Wednesday, September 09, 2015

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Chassidic Tidbits for Rosh Hashana

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Sounding the Shofar

The Baal Shem Tov explained the effect of the shofar through the following mashal: A king once decided to send his only son to a faraway land to broaden his experience. The prince set out from the royal palace loaded with gold and silver, but he frittered it all away on the journey and arrived there penniless. The local people, who had never heard of his father the king, laughed off his claims. Was this a prince? Impossible! Unable to bear the suffering any longer, the son decided to make the long trek homeward.

He finally arrived in his homeland, but he had been away for so long that he had even forgotten the local language. The poor tattered fellow tried motioning to the people around him that he was the son of their mighty king, but they mocked him and beat him.

Arriving at the palace gates, the son tried again but was ignored. In utter despair, he cried aloud so that his father would hear him. The king recognized his son’s voice, his love was aroused for him, and he came out to welcome him home.

Similarly, the King, Hashem, sends a neshamah down to this world to benefit by observing the Torah and fulfilling its mitzvos. However, when hankering after pleasures, the neshamah may lose all its wealth and arrive at a place where his relationship with his Father, Hashem, is unknown.

Moreover, the neshamah forgets how things were Above. In the long galus, it even forgets its own “language.” In desperation, it cries out by sounding the shofar, expressing regret for the past and determination for the future. This simple cry arouses Hashem’s mercy: He shows His love for His only son, forgives him, and welcomes him back home.

(Keser Shem Tov, Hosafos 394)

The King’s Debt

Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev would tell the following mashal: A king once lost his way in the forest, until he met a man who directed him out of the forest and back to his palace. He rewarded the stranger richly and appointed him a senior minister. Years later, that minister acted rebelliously and was sentenced to death, but the king granted him one last wish. The minister asked that both he and the king put on the clothing they had worn long ago, when he had rescued the king from the forest. This reminded the king of his indebtedness to this man and he revoked the death sentence.

Similarly, we willingly accepted the Torah from the King, Hashem, when all the other nations refused the offer. But since that time, like the minister, we have been rebellious by doing aveiros, and are therefore fearful on Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment. So we sound the shofar to remind Hashem of mattan Torah, when we accepted the Torah and made Hashem our king, and we express our renewed eagerness to crown Him once again. This zchus stands by us: Hashem forgives our aveiros and inscribes us immediately for a good life.

(Hemchech V’kacha 5637, ch. 70)

The Main Thing Is the Cry

Before Rosh Hashanah 5640 (1879), the Rebbe Maharash requested his meshareis to relay the following to the chassidim: “It is written that sounding the shofar is like the cry, ‘Father, Father!’ The main thing there is the cry.”

That Rosh Hashanah, the entire village wept with remorse.

(Sefer Hasichos 5704, p. 4)

The Greatest Effect of All

The Baal Shem Tov would usually be present for tekias shofar together with his talmidim. One year he requested one of them, the tzaddik Reb Yaakov Yosef of Polonnoye, to take his place there, while the Baal Shem Tov himself sounded the shofar with the simple folk and the children.

Those unsophisticated people cried out to Hashem, “Father in Heaven, have rachmanus!” And that had the greatest effect of all.

(Sefer Hasichos 5705, p. 6)


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