Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Page title
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Ending Well: Understanding Aleinu

Yehoshua and Achan

Yehoshua led the Jewish people in their miraculous conquest of Eretz Yisrael. One of the most sublime moments of victory was when the walls of Jericho crumbled to the ground after the people encircled them for seven days. In expression of his awe and wonder at Hashem’s greatness, Yehoshua composed the first paragraph of the Aleinu prayer at that time (Kol Bo 16).

At first, during Yehoshua’s war against the nations who dwelled in the Land, there were no casualties among the Jewish people. However, later during the war against the city of Hai, the Jewish people suffered heavy losses. Afraid that this could cause a desecration of Hashem’s Name, Yehoshua prayed for insight into the reason for this unexpected setback.

Hashem revealed to Yehoshua a number of reasons for these deaths, among them that one member of the Jewish people had violated the ban against taking spoils from battle at Jericho. When Yehoshua asked Hashem who the guilty party was, Hashem refused to divulge this information on the grounds that this was lashon hara. He advised Yehoshua to draw lots and find out for himself.

Yehoshua had the Jewish people draw lots, and eventually it became clear that Achan was the perpetrator of this offense. At first Achan denied his guilt, but when he saw that his defiance was causing violence among the Jewish people, he confessed. By transgressing Hashem’s direct command that Jericho not be plundered, and by causing the deaths of his fellow Jews, Achan had committed a capital offense. He was sentenced to death.

Before willingly accepting his sentence, Achan confessed all of his transgressions and attained complete repentance. He expressed his newfound sense of closeness to Hashem by composing the second paragraph of the Aleinu prayer, an eloquent expression of Hashem’s all-encompassing greatness. His authorship is hinted to in the first three words, “al ken nekaveh,” which share the same initials as his name, Achan.

The Aleinu prayer was thus composed by great tzaddikim at times when they were elevated by great love and awe of Hashem. Through a deeper understanding of the halachos and customs of this prayer, we too can access these feelings when reciting Aleinu.


Text Copyright © 2011 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 
Sell Chometz Online







ARTICLES ON PESACH AND THE OMER:

View Complete List

The Counting of the Omer
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

A Ritual Memory Transfer
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5760

“Letter to my Son Akiva” (born 10 years ago, on Erev LAG B’OMER)
Jon Erlbaum - 5771

> Father-on-Loan
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

Pesach: The Obligation of Profound Appreciation
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Feeling Jewish
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5774

Looking for a Chavrusah?

There's One in Every Generation
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

Pesach Food
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

The Meaning of Freedom
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Break Free!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Taking It Personally
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Kid Tips
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

ArtScroll

Early Emancipation and Sour Grapes
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Ha Lachma Anya
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

Would it Have Sufficed?
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Love of Money, or Money of Love?
Rabbi Gavriel Prero - 5761



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information