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!
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
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!!
Dedicated to Shmuel Chaim Ben Chaya for a full and speedy
A project of Chabad of Great Neck
400 East Shore Rd.
Great Neck NY 11024
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