Parshas Re'eh 5757 - '97
Outline # 49
Parshas Re'eh is read before Rosh Chodesh Elul. It concludes with a description of the shalosh regalim (three festive `pilgrimage' holidays). Also in the parsha, we find the mitzvah to purify one's self before the festivals (14:8 and Rashi there; Rosh Hashanah 16b).
Last week, we wrote in the name of the Yismach Moshe that the service is an "assistance." This subject is discussed in the Siduro Shel Shabbos, in explaining the difference between Shabbos and Yom Tov (festivals). (From Shoresh 1, Anaf 1)
In the days immediately preceding the receiving of the Torah, Moshe reported various aspects of the Torah to the people. They responded: "Everything that Hashem has said we will do." This, indeed, was the purpose: to cause the people's hearts to be aroused for the service of Hashem.
Every mitzvah needs the arousal of mankind; every mitzvah, that is, except for the Shabbos. For the Shabbos is there whether we perceive it or not; it is not in the least dependent on us. For this reason, the Shabbos was commanded and discussed earlier, before the receiving of the Torah. The people were not told about it in such a way that they could accept it or reject it.
Unlike Shabbos, which occurs every seven days, the Yom Tov is actually declared holy because the Beis Din (Jewish legal court) sanctified the month. The holiness of the Yom Tov is literally dependent on the Jewish People.
The kavanah (intention during prayer) of the Yom Tov services is actually to produce a certain effect above; quite the contrary in regard to the Shabbos. The kavanah of the Shabbos davening is to receive influence from above.
The idea of the "help" or "assistance" finds its source in the Talmud (Shabbos 89a). What exactly is the nature of this "help?" Yismach Moshe had explained in a kabalistic manner, but see the Bnei Yisaschar, (Rosh Hashanah 2) for a simple analogy:
The Talmud (Brochos 32), explains that we should recite praises before praying for our needs. When the melachim (angels) hear Hashem's praises, they respond with enthusiastic affirmation. Later, when requests are heard, it would be impolite for the melachim to attack the person who had just praised, so they do not interfere with accusations. So, for example, when we praise Hashem as "Healer of the sick," it actually makes it easier for Hashem to heal, because the accusers cannot interfere.
Rav Elie Munk, in Olam Hatefilos ("The World of Prayer") explains how each brocha begins with an affirmation of faith. It mentions Hashem's providence, and then "King of the World." Mentioning Hashem's providence is the affirmation that each person receives his share, and "King of the World" affirms that He has the wherewithal to accomplish our requests.
Why would we pray, if we didn't believe? Would Hashem help, if we didn't believe in His ability to help? (Several years ago, we referred to various scientific studies which indicated that prayer and faith increases patients' chances measurably.)
"One who prepares for Shabbos, will eat on Shabbos." The sixth day of the week is the preparation for Shabbos, the seventh day. Similarly, the sixth month -- Elul -- is the preparation for the seventh month -- Tishrei. (Hamo'adim B'halacha)
The day before Rosh Chodesh is called Yom Kippur Katon (the Short Yom Kippur). Some people fast every month at this time; some people, who do not regularly observe the fast, do so only on the day before Rosh Chodesh Elul. As the month comes to its end, we are held accountable for the entire month. As the year comes to its climax, we can atone for the entire year... (Mateh Efraim 581:3 and Tosfos Chaim 113)
Rosh Chodesh Elul is two days; this year, it occurs from Mon. night, Sept. 1 through Wed. Sept. 3. The shofar is sounded in synagogue every morning, beginning with the second day of Rosh Chodesh (excluding Shabbos and Erev Rosh Hashanah).
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
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Text Copyright © '97 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.
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Last Revision: January 27, '97