Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Dr. David Pelcovits related the following story:
“A number of years ago, a man who is a respected and well-known personality in the yeshiva world, approached me to seek my guidance in dealing with his son. His son was involved in terrible things and the situation was deteriorating rapidly. At one point the father told me that he had spoken to his Posek in Eretz Yisroel to decide whether he could keep his son at home. The Posek told him that because the son was a negative influence on the other children, he had the din of a rodeph, and had to be sent out of the home.
“I was very bothered by the p’sak. I told the Rav that throwing his son out of the house could prove to be a disastrous mistake. The son had already gone from doing drugs to dealing drugs, and was already involved with dangerous drug gangs. The Rav insisted that he wasn’t going to go against the p’sak of his Posek. I asked permission to discuss it with the posek who happened to be in town. The father gave permission and the posek and I met late one night.
“I was very impressed with the posek who sat and listened intently to every word I said, for over two hours. When I finished the posek said to me, “You were right and I was wrong. He cannot send his son out of the house. However, I don’t think we can simply allow him to move back in. “I suggest that for Rosh Hashanah he go to his uncle and aunt who live in an out of town community. Let’s see if there’s some sign on his part that he’s ready to at least have an inkling of change so he can move back in.” I liked the idea and we arranged it.
“On Tzom Gedaliah the boy came to see me looking very upset. “Doc, you gotta help me!” I became very nervous, knowing all the things he was involved with. Then he told me what occurred on Rosh Hashanah while he was staying in the home of his uncle and aunt:
“I didn’t go to shul on Rosh Hashanah. But as the day wore on I decided that I should walk my uncle and aunt home from shul. They had treated me so nicely that I thought it was the least I could do.  I waited until the time I thought davening was over and walked to shul. However, when I arrived there I didn’t see anyone at all. I walked into the shul but didn’t want to walk further in because I wasn’t dressed appropriately for shul. I realized they were blowing the last 40 tekios at the end of davening.
“Suddenly, out of nowhere I burst into tears. As the shofar kept blowing I kept crying louder, until I was crying out of control. People were motioning for me to be quiet so they could hear the shofar, but I couldn’t control myself. Doc, what happened to me? You have to help sort this out.!”
“I don’t want to make it sound like a fairy tale because there were many struggles and challenges along the way. But that incident was the beginning of a long journey back.”

In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy gathering; you shall do no labor; it shall be a day of teru'ah for you.”[1]
Rabbi Yonasan Eibshitz explained the deep connection between the anniversary of the creation of Man[2] and the mitzvah to blow shofar: When the Torah records the creation of Man it writes, “Al-mighty G-d formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul[3]. Man became a living, sentient being when G-d breathed His own breath into him, as it were. It was that metaphysical breath that transformed him from physical matter into a living hybrid of physical and spiritual.
When we blow shofar on the anniversary of the day of Man's creation, it serves as a commemoration of that first Divine breath of life blown into man on the sixth day of Creation, Rosh Hashanah.

The gemara[4] writes an intriguing statement: "כיון דלזכרון כבפנים דמו", since the purpose of blowing shofar on Rosh Hashanah is to affect a favorable remembrance before G-d, it is equivalent to a service performed inside the Holy of Holies in the Bais Hamikdash.
During the moments when we hear the shofar being blown, on some level, it is as if we were performing the service in the Holy of Holies.
When the Torah details the service that the Koahin Gadol performed on Yom Kippur, it discusses the apex of the day’s service, i.e. his entry into the Holy of Holies. On the holiest day of the year, the holiest man in the world, entered the holiest place on earth. About that awesome moment the Torah states[5]: “And no man shall be in the Tent of the Meeting when he comes to provide atonement in the Sanctuary until his departure.”   
Rabbi Meir Shapiro zt’l explained that when the Torah states that no “man” can enter the sanctuary, it includes the Kohain Gadol himself! At that surreal moment, he had to temporarily surrender his physical being. During those moments, the Kohain Gadol had to be alone with his true inner self - the soul within which contains the true spark of life.

A shofar is the horn of an animal[6]. The sound of the shofar is the sound of breath - the spark of life - being blown through a natural medium, created by G-d. The sound of the shofar is therefore reminiscent and symbolic of primordial man in his untainted pristine state.   
When the Kohain Gadol entered the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, for a few moments he had to disassociate himself from his animalistic and base desires and needs, to assume the guise of a metaphysical being, above sin and physicality. The call of the shofar, which is to accomplish that same objective, therefore has the potential to raise us to the level of the Kohain Gadol entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur.

After Adam sinned by eating from the forbidden fruit in Gan Eden, the Torah relates, “G-d called to Adam and he said to him, Ayeka -Where are you?!”[7] Adam immediately blamed Chava, who in turn blamed the snake. G-d’s response was “Where are you?” That question was also posed to Adam on that sixth day of creation, Rosh Hashanah.
The path to repentance begins with the question, “Where are you?”
The shofar is a catalyst for reflection and introspection. It is a reminder that we must never view ourselves as intergraded with the exile around us. We must remember that internally we are different and have a higher mission.[8]
The message of the shofar must resonate throughout the year: We must seek to be true to ourselves - the real us! 

“No man shall be in the Tent of the Meeting”
“Equivalent to a service performed inside the Holy of Holies”

Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW
Rabbi, Kehillat New Hempstead
Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – Heichal HaTorah
Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor

[1] Bamidbar 29:1
[2] Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of man.
[3] Bereishis 2:7
[4] Rosh Hashanah 26a
[5] Vayikra 16:17
[6] Although the shofar may be polished and molded somewhat, it is essentially the horn as it appeared on the animal. 
[7] Bereishis 3:9
[8] With this in mind, we can understand why we do not blow shofar when Rosh Hashanah coincides with Shabbos. A properly observed Shabbos invariably becomes a day of introspection and reflection. When we abstain from involvement in the physical world and engage in a more spiritual lifestyle, we cannot help but feel more committed to what is truly important in life. On Shabbos, the shofar’s message becomes superfluous, for the essence of the day calls out to us with the same message as the shofar. 


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