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B”H

Shalom and Bracha!

This Shabbat combines the joy of Sukkot, the festival of joy, and the serenity of Shabbat.
 

This Shabbat we read about the second tablets and Hashem’s thirteen attributes of mercy. After the sin of the golden calf, when Hashem forgave the Jewish people, Moshe asked Hashem to reveal to him Hashem’s glory. Hashem responded that seeing His “face” was impossible but He would show Moshe His “back.” When Moshe brought the second set of tablets up to Mount Sinai, Hashem passed before him and called out, “Hashem, Hashem, benevolent G-d, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in kindness and truth. He preserves kindness for thousands of generations, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, who acquits.” These traits are known as Hashem’s thirteen attributes of mercy and are a part of the liturgy, particularly prominent in the Selichot and the Yom Kippur prayers.
 

The word Torah means teaching. When the Torah relates something, it is a lesson. Both Moshe’s request and Hashem’s response are lessons. Moshe teaches each one of us that we have to seek to understand Hashem’s glory. It is not sufficient to only follow the rules of the Torah. Our love for Hashem should bring a desire to understand Him in every way possible. This can be attained through learning Chassidut.
 

Hashem responded that you cannot see my face, but you can see my back. This teaches us that Hashem is infinite, and therefore we cannot grasp Him. However, we can and must come as close as possible. Every step opens new doors. When Hashem recounted the thirteen attributes of mercy, it was a lesson. Hashem’s glory is not just in the supernal: it is this world through patience, good, kindness and forgiving.
 

Last Shabbat we discussed that Hashem’s name is revealed in each of us. Accordingly, the narrative this week teaches us to recognize and cultivate the name of G-d that is within each of us. We might have thought that cultivating our divine nature is through removing ourselves from the world. Hashem teaches us otherwise. Through patience, compassion, kindness and forgiving, we reveal the spark of G-d in each of us. We must also realize that our G-dly spark gives us the power to emulate G-d. Hashem’s patience is infinite. He waits years for individuals and centuries for nations to go on the right path. The Torah says that He not only appreciates a good deed, but continues to reward for two thousand generations. We can make the same mistakes thousands of times, ask forgiveness, and He grants it. His kindness is called “Great Kindness.” The human parallel is going far beyond our duty in the help of others: be it in time, effort, or money. Our divine spark teaches us that we must aspire to these levels.
 

When Moshiach comes, our thirst for the knowledge of Hashem will be quenched because the knowledge of Hashem will fill the earth as the water fills the ocean bed. May Hashem grant us the ultimate mercy and kindness and bring Moshiach immediately!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Biggs

B”H
 

Simchat Torah-Transcending the High Holidays with Joy

Hoshana Rabba is Sunday

NY City Candle Lighting Sunday 6:10 p.m.

Yizkor Monday Morning

Candle Lighting Monday Night after 7:07 from an existing flame

Simchat Torah ends Tuesday at 7:05

For worldwide times on the web go to www.chabadgn.com/Candles

Shalom and Bracha!

Sunday is Hoshana Rabba. Every day of Sukkot we circle the Bimah with the Lulav and Etrog. Hoshana Rabba we circle seven times. We beat five willow branches on the ground, symbolizing sweetening Hashem’s severity with kindness. Hoshana Rabba is the final step in the judgment of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
 

This Sunday night, in honor of Shemini Atzeret, and Monday night, for Simchat Torah, we take out the Torah scrolls and dance with them. Seemingly, both the holiday and the custom seem out of place! The Torah was given on Shavuot, Several months ago. Why make Simchat Torah now? We conclude the reading of the entire Torah and begin again on Simchat Torah. But why don’t we do that on Shavuot? Furthermore, why do we rejoice by dancing with the Torah? Torah is made for studying. Why don’t we rejoice by studying all night?
 

After the Torah was given, Moshe shattered the first Tablets. Thereafter, he beseeched Hashem to forgive the Jewish people for having made the golden calf. On Yom Kippur, Hashem fully forgave the Jewish people and Moshe brought down the second Tablets. Together with the second Tablets, he was given a much deeper insight into the Torah. Since the second tablets are the tablets that remained, we celebrated Simchat Torah and conclude the cycle of reading the Torah in connection with the date of their being given. Yom Kippur rightfully should be celebrated as Simchat Torah, but as it is a day of fasting and atonement, we celebrate Simchat Torah shortly thereafter.
 

As aforementioned, together with the second tablets a new depth in Torah was granted. Seemingly, to demonstrate forgiveness, it would have sufficed to merely replace the previous Tablets. Why then were we granted new depths? When a person does a sin, and thereafter does Teshuvah to the extent that Hashem forgives him, his bond with Hashem becomes stronger than before. The bond of the soul to Hashem is compared to a rope. When a rope tears and is tied back together, the knot is much thicker than the original rope. Similarly, when the Jewish people repented after the sin of the golden calf, the bond with Hashem was strengthened. Therefore, new depths in the Torah were revealed, symbolizing the deeper bond.
 

In our connection to Hashem through Torah, there are different levels. Our minds are connected to the Will of Hashem via studying the Torah. On a deeper plane, our very essence is bound to Hashem through the essence of Torah. This is the bond we celebrate Simchat Torah. Therefore we take the Torah in its entirety, while it is covered, and rejoice with it. We rejoice with our whole being, which is expressed through dancing. As we dance, all of us are equal, because every Jew’s essence is one with the essence of Torah.
 

Whatever we sought to accomplish through prayer on Rosh Hashanah can be accomplished through dancing and rejoicing on Simchat Torah. As unity is the channel for blessings, every person we encourage to join in the festivities greatly increases in Hashem’s blessings. May we go from the joy of Simchat Torah to the celebration of Moshiach’s coming!!

Chag Sameach,

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated to Shmuel Chaim Ben Chaya for a full and speedy recovery

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