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RABBI CHAIM LOBEL הרב חיים לובל

This week is Parshat Nitzavim
Candle Lighting 7/14/12 6:47 PM NYC DST
Rabbi Chaim Lobel – Young Israel of Aberdeen, NJ
www.yiaberdeen.com

 

 

The Best Lifestyle – In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren (Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z’L)

On the day of his death, Moses gathers the whole people of Israel and proclaims “You (Israel) are all standing here today . . .” (Deuteronomy 29:9) According to Nahmanides (Rabbai Moses ben Nahman, Gerona, Spain; 1194 – 1270), the purpose of this gathering was to reaccept the covenant of Mt. Sinai, to observe a Torah lifestyle without compromise. And Moses didn’t speak to just the people before him. Moses spoke to all future generations of Jews as well. “And not with you alone do I make this covenant and this curse because this is for those who are standing with us today before Hashem, our G-d, and for those who are not with us today.” (Deuteronomy 29:13-14)

The Ohr HaChaim (Rabbi Chaim Attar, Morocco & Jerusalem; 1696 – 1743) raises an interesting question. What right do we have to bind future generations to our covenant? The answer is that Halakha allows a parent to confer a benefit to a child and our Jewish heritage is a benefit.

But where’s the proof that Judaism is a benefit? The seven Noachide laws are fairly easy to fulfill. But the 613 Torah commandments? Who among us can escape sin? Perhaps it’s better to be a righteous gentile than a Jew who sins and, if that’s the case, we have no right to bind our children to our covenant with Hashem.

The Ohr HaChaim explains that Moses confronts that very question. The above passage continues – “Because you know that you dwelled in the land of Egypt and that you passed among the gentiles whom you passed. And you saw their abominations . . .” (Deuteronomy 29:15-16)

Think of all the restrictions we have. Work. Community. Food. Marriage. Marital relations. Education. Entertainment. Business. Charity. Clothing. Not to mention the time we need to set aside for Torah study and prayer.

By every measure, our lives should be worse than the other nations who have almost no restrictions or obligations beyond their own families.

Yet, we have seen how the gentiles live. And can anyone truthfully argue that, on average, they have richer lives? The Egyptians had wealth, power, and slaves. But we “saw their abominations”. Is that the life we want for our children?

We bind our children to our heritage and faith because we recognize the extraordinary value of living a Jewish life. Other religions can make empty promises of great reward in the hereafter but we can point to the lives we’re living today. Here and now, our families are better off for having inherited a life imbued with Torah and Mitzvot.

This Rosh Hashanah, as we stand before G-d in judgment, let us remember that among the myriad cultures, nations, and religions in the world and throughout history, nobody has discovered a better lifestyle than the one given to us by Hashem. May we thank Hashem for the Torah and Mitzvot He has bequeathed to us and express our regret for not having enjoyed His gifts to the fullest. May this year be a year of blessing and fulfillment.

Wishing All a Shana Tova – Kesiva V’Chasima Tova – Happy and Healthy New Year

Shabbat Shalom

--

Choose Life – In Memoriam of Mr. Herman Brenman (Tzvi Hirsh ben Moshe)

“I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses, and you will choose life so you and your children may live to love G-d and hearken to His voice...” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Rashi comments on the wording, “and you will choose life”. It seems as though it is not a choice. Rather, it’s something that we will do, because we have to, and there is no alternative.

Like a father who tells his son to choose a portion for himself but shows his son which is the best portion, Rashi explains that G-d is showing us the best choice – to choose life. “To love G-d and hearken to His voice.”

Just as the son would choose the best portion, so would any person who recognizes the value of Torah will choose a life to “to love G-d and hearken to His voice.”

Yet, therein lies the challenge. How will a person recognize that Torah is the best choice unless he has already committed himself “to love G-d and hearken to His voice”?

Rashi answers that very question through his parable. A son may question whether his father knows all the answers but he never doubts his father’s love and dedication. Nor should we ever doubt Hashem’s love for us.

This past year has been difficult. We do not understand G-d’s ways. However, so long as we remember G-d’s love for us, we “may live to love G-d and hearken to His voice.” We will “choose life”.

May we all have a blessed year. May this be the year of our redemption.

Wishing All a Shana Tova – Kesiva V’Chasima Tova – Happy and Healthy New Year

Shabbat Shalom


 
   
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