One reason that a ger would say the blessing “who did not make me a gentile” is simply that G-d did not create him as a gentile - rather, G-d created him as ger with the potential to complete the geirus process and become a Jew. G-d placed a Jewish soul within him, yet caused the Jewish soul to be born within the body of a gentile."
— Bnei Avraham Ahuvecha: Gerim in Chassidic Thought by Dov ben Avraham, page 37 (via longskirtclub)
I love this picture from Chabad. Hooray for diversity within Judaism 😊 shavuah tov!
"…and you shall afflict your souls in the 9th day of the month in the evening …" (Vayikra/Leviticus 23:32)
What does it mean to fast on the 9th day? Don’t we fast on Yom Kippur itself, which is the 10th of the month? The Talmud answers in Brachos 8b that if one eats and drinks on the 9th day of Tishrei - the eve of the awesome day of Yom Kippur, and then fasts on Yom Kippur, it is regarded as if he afflicted (fasted) himself on both the 9th and the 10th days.
The Noam Elimelech; Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk zt”l, asked why eating on the 9th of Tishrei should be regarded as fasting. He answers:
"If on Erev Yom Kippur (the eve of the day of atonement), one were to contemplate the awesome and holy character of the approaching day; how his repentance is hanging in the balance, he certainly would not be able to even take a bite of any food in his mouth. Therefore, observing the mitzvah to eat on the 9th day is indeed a hardship and an affliction.”
Once a chossid came to visit the first Chortkover Rebbe, R’ Dovid Moshe Friedman zt”l, outside the Rebbe’s room he saw a large mirror on the wall and since a mirror is a sign of vanity he thought to himself, “how can there be such a large mirror in the Rebbe’s house?” When he went inside by the Chortkover Rebbe and was awestruck by the rebbe’s Hadras Ponim [majestic countenance] the chossid immediately corrected his earlier bad thought thinking, like "the rebbe probably just looks in the mirror and is mezalzel b’saro". The moment he had that thought the Chortkover said:
”Once upon a time by my father, the Holy Rizhiner zy”a, a philanthropist came with two large mirrors. One of the gabboim thought to himself, "why should there be such a large mirror here by the Rebbe in his house?" The gabbe answered himself as follows, "It is written it’s a segulah to look upon a Tzadik Emmes. It’s a segulah for Yiras Shomayim and the tzadik also has to see the Tzadik HaDor! Because of that there has to be a mirror."
The Holy Rizhiner knew what the gabbe was thinking and said “no, it’s not like that”. “Before a Yid enters by a tzadik’ he has to look clearly at himself and see with what kind of face he comes before the tzadik. Before he goes in he already needs to have a Hirur Teshuva [thoughts of teshuva]”
In these days, Aseres Yemei Teshuva, we go to the water and say tashlich. Water is like a mirror כמים הפנים לפנים כן לב האדם לאדם (as in water, face answers to face, so is the heart of a man to a man.) We should look clearly at ourselves –examine ourselves- with what kind of face we appear before the Eibishter. Not just from the outside, but to see inside ourselves in our hearts and see where we’re holding.
Tzadikim always have to be melamed zchus other Yidden and to encourage people to do teshuva, so that they’ll look at themselves and inspect themselves. Once the Rizhiner was traveling in the middle of a heavy winter, there was lots of snow on the ground and it was raining. His wagon slipped off the road and got stuck in the mud; and so they had to wait for another horse to come to pull them out. The Rizhiner saw this as a sign to do teshuva. The Rebbe looked up to the Heaven and said, "Ribono Shel Olam, of course You mean that I have to do teshuva." This is how the tzadikim were. They used everything that happened as a sign from Hashem they had to do teshuva.
"But Ribono Shel Olam," the Rizhiner continued, "we’ll have to do teshuva here in the mud??? When the wagon gets out of the mud I’ll go back home to my own house. There I’ll be able to do teshuva."
Explained the Boyaner Rebbe shlita, “the Holy Rizhiner meant that Yidden need calmth, Menuchas haNefesh [peace of mind] and haChovas haDaas to be able to do teshuva. Currently Yidden are in a harsh golus [exile] with all kinds of tzaros and distractions. With all these things going on, how can one do emmese teshuva? How can one then have true remorse?”
This is what Dovid HaMelech said (Tehilim 23):
"ה’ רעי לא אחסר" There will be a bechina Hashem will be our shepherd (רעי) and then לא אחסר I will not fear. Then, בנאות דשא ירביצני על מי מנחות ינהלני: He’ll cause me to lie down in green pastures [and] He leads me beside still waters. And that will "נפשי ישובב" (restore my soul) and ינחני במעגלי צדק למען שמו; then He will lead me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
A מי מנוחות (Mei Menuchas) is a pool of quiet still water. When can one look inside and actually see himself clearly? Only when it’s a מי מנוחות; when the water is clean, calm and peaceful. A person won’t be able to see his own reflection if it’s wild or dirty. מי מנוחות; when Yidden have a Menuchas HaNefesh and HaChovos HaDaas will Hashem be able to bring good things for the Yidden.
על מי מנוחות – when we can clearly see ourselves in peaceful and quiet water – will we be able to נפשי ישובב (restore our soul); to return back to Hashem in complete teshuva.
By discussing the third inyan of Tekias Shofar Rabbeinu Saadya Gaon says that “one should remember Maamad Har Sinai [the gathering at mt.Sinai].” How we stood there and said “נעשה ונשמע" (we will do and we will hear) and therefore be again mekabel [accept] the Torah with “נעשה ונשמע” and do a complete teshuva. Maybe that’s why in most of the Jewish world the minhag is to say tashlich on Rosh Hashana.
On Rosh Hashana Hashem wants us to remember Maamad Har Sinai, the Torah HaKedosha and Na’aseh v’Nisma (נעשה ונשמע). But when we stand at the water we want the Ribono Shel Olam to remember that before Ma’amad Har Sinai there was the water of Krias Yam Suf. There Klal Yisroel was elevated to such high spiritual levels even the lowest person of all was on a higher madreigah than Yechezkel HaNovi. And because of that, those generations were able to be Mekabel the Torah HaKedosha “נעשה ונשמע”!
But we are in golus today. A harsh and bitter Golus with a Hester Ponim, אנכי הסתר אסתיר. With all these difficulties -the tzaaros and yissurim, the broken hearts and everything else we’re going through- every thing that a Yid does should be very choshuv [important] to Hashem. Especially now in these days when Yidden do Teshuva and want to be close to Hashem, the Ribono Shel Olam should have mercy on all of us on the Holy day of Yom Kippur.
May we always remember that even though we might have our own aveiros, every little thing we do is very important to Hashem. Don’t think, “I did so-and-so” or “I don’t do this or keep that” and therefore “I might as well do nothing because otherwise I’m such a hypocrite”. Every little thing you do for the Ribono Shel Olam is Choshuv. We all learnt everything we know today in slow steps. By falling and getting up. The same way is for teshuva. It’s a process. A process that with Hashem’s help will be successful in the end.
May we all merit to do a Teshuva Sheleima and welcome Moshiach Tzidkeinu speedily in our days!
First of all a Gmar Chasima Tova to all of my followers and readers of this blog. Today we are at the beginning of Aseres Yemei Teshuva, the ten days of teshuva in between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. As we all know Rosh Hashana is the Yom haDin, the day when we -and the whole world- are being judged by Hashem.
From Rosh Hashana until Yom Kippur we still have ten days to work on ourselves until our ‘judgement’ is sealed. As I wrote in this reply these days are not particularly some of my favorite days since I know I could still improve a lot and the Yom haDin is “serious business”. Hashem is our King and this is not a children’s game. But at the same time while Hashem is indeed our King, He is also our Father who loves us.
The following maaseh I once heard from my Rebbe helped me a lot:
During one Rosh Hashana by the Chozeh m’Lublin the Rebbe refused to come out of his room for tekias shofar (blowing of the shofar). Since the chozeh had the minhag of davening in a side-room the chassidim were waiting a long time for him to come out. Once they saw he didn’t come’ one of the Chozeh’s closest talmidim went inside to see what was going on.
Reb Dovid Lelover, who would later become the first Lelover Rebbe, went inside to see why the Rebbe didn’t come. After hours of waiting he asked the Rebbe to come out and listen to the shofar but he refused. No matter what Reb Dovid would say the Chozeh wouldn’t budge. He locked himself up in his room and refused to listen to anyone being too worried about the judgement in Shomayim. He had worries and questions that didn’t allow him to listen to the kol hashofar.
Among the mispalelim was also a little boy. This boy’s name was Shlomo Rabinovitz, who later later become the Tiferes Shlomo; the first Radomsker Rebbe who would attract many thousands of chassidim. Others say it was Itzikel Vorker, who would later become the famous Rebbe R’ Yitzchok Vorker. In any case Reb Dovid Lelover had adopted this little boy who was clutching on to his gartel as he went to speak to the Chozeh..
The Chozeh then asked the little boy for his name and what he was learning.
"Choshen Mishpat*" answered the boy.
"Tell me," said the Chozeh in a troubled voice. "I don’t understand. Why is a korev not allowed to testify for a beis din?" The halacha is that when a Korev (a close family member) testifies for a Beis Din they are not allowed to accept him as a witness.
"Because a korev is always trying to do a toiveh [favor] for his relative, and so we suspect him of having his own interests."
"But why the korev is posul [unfit] for both for zchus [speaking good] and for chov [speaking negatively]. I understand if he has something good to say we should not accept it because he is a korev; but if he has something terribly bad to say it must be true!”
Answered the little boy: “That’s because one shouldn’t say anything bad about a korev. We don’t want a korev to speak bad about other kerovim. A korov who testifies against his own flesh and blood is not a mentsh, and the posuk says ועמדו שני אנשים [Devorim 19.17] and two mentschen have to testify!”
After hearing this the Chozeh smiled and told the boy he comforted him saying, “Klal Yisroel are called kerovim of Hashem [Devorim 4.7] So the Ribono Shel Olam will not speak evil of His Children!” Now he walked inside the Beis Medresh b’simche [with a joy] and signaled to start with the tekias shofar.
*A very complicated part of Shulchan Oruch that deals with finances/legal procedures etc.
Let us always remember and trust that no matter what; we are still Hashem’s kerovim. The Shem m’Shmuel writes that even though these are Yemei HaDin (days of judgement) we still say “שהחיינו וקיימנו לזמן הזה” on Rosh Hashana after kiddush because we are glad to be at this moment. The Tur brings down a medrash that a person has to dress nicely, get a haircut [and] act like it is any other Yom Tov where there is a mitzvah of simcha. Which is a very interesting thing to say. A simcha? We are being judged! That’s a simcha? It’s Yom haDin!
Yes, that is all true. It is a Yom haDin indeed; on the outside we do stand trembling in awe, but deep inside we all know that Hashem only wants it to be a good year for us, and therefore, it is a moed [a yom tov] as well.
Let it takeh be only a good year, a healthy and sweet year; a year of simches and teshuva sheleima for all of us!
On a Rosh Hashanah which fell on Shabbos - R’ Levi Yitzchak of Berditchiv rose and said:
"Lord of the Universe, today You judge each person for the coming year, and grant him life or condemn him to death. But, on this Rosh Hashanah You are forced by Your own Torah to grant a good and healthy life to all Your people in coming year. After all, on Shabbos You have decreed in Your Holy Torah that it is prohibited to write. How then can You fulfil ‘On Rosh Hashanah it is written down’? There is no way for You to inscribe anyone in the Book of Death, because writing is forbidden. On the other hand, You may certainly inscribe us all in the Book of Life, because when there is pikuach nefesh (danger to life) the prohibition on writing does not apply.""
— Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l (via bennistar)
— Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe z”l (via girloverhere)