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B”H

Nitzavim-Vayeilech Shabbat Selichot- Renewing the Bond
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs

 

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Shalom and Bracha!

May Hashem inscribe and seal you, your entire family and all of those who are dear to you for a healthy, happy, prosperous successful and sweet new year and may we see the redemption through Moshiach immediately!

On the Shabbat preceding every Rosh Chodesh (Hebrew Month), a special blessing is said that the new month should be filled with all sorts of blessings. Although Rosh Hashanah ushers in the month of Tishrei, this Shabbat is the exception and no blessing is said. Why? The primary explanation given is that this is one of many things done to confuse the forces of evil and prevent them from hindering our favorable inscription on Rosh Hashanah. The Baal Shem Tov taught that on this Shabbat, Hashem Himself blesses the coming month, and with the power of His blessing the Jewish people bless the other eleven or twelve months of the upcoming year(The coming Hebrew year has thirteen months). The previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchock Schneerson, instituted the custom of saying the entire Tehillim and having a special gathering in honor of Shabbat Mevarchim (the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh) in order to elicit Hashem’s blessings and protection. These customs are observed this Shabbat as well.

This Shabbat we read the portions of Nitzavim and Vayeilech. The portion of Nitzavim is always read before Rosh Hashanah and begins with a message that is central to our approach to the High Holidays. The portion begins “You are all standing today united before Hashem your G-d; from the heads of your tribes… until your water carriers to enter the covenant of Hashem.”

The Alter Rebbe explains in Likutei Torah that this verse refers to Rosh Hashanah. The Torah teaches that our connection with Hashem is a covenant. A covenant is a bond that transcends logic. When two people have a great love for each other, they create a covenant, a bond, so that even if at some time they have difficulties with each other or they don’t see each other for a period of time, they remain united. The exact term in the verse is ‘L’avrcha Bivrit” which means to pass through a covenant. The ancient way of making a covenant was to slice something in half and for both parties to pass through, symbolizing that they became as one body. Our connection with Hashem is a covenant. Even if we have strayed, we are one. Every year, on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah, that bond is renewed and enhanced.

The Torah says that we must stand as one. Unity is the key to Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is the day when we crown Hashem as our King. In the Rosh Hashanah prayers we say “There shall be in Yeshurun a King when then people are gathered, the tribes of Israel are united.” When there is unity, we can accept Hashem’s Kingship. When there is a divided nation, we diminish the coronation. A beautiful and significant way to express this unity is to encourage and invite others to participate in observing Rosh Hashanah. For those who need a place to worship, Chabad centers throughout the world have services and do not turn people away for not paying. Invite someone new to share in apples and honey for a sweet new year!

Further, unity is there source of all blessings. When Hashem sees His children united, it awakens His love and forgiveness. Each day way pray, “Bless us our father all together in your countenance.” When there is unity, there is blessing.

Further, unity is the key to Moshiach’s coming. Strife was that cause of the destruction of the Temple and unity will be the key to the coming of Moshiach. Moshiach will unite the entire world to serve Hashem as one. By our unity, we initiate that global unification.

The path to unity is illuminated in the verse. The Torah says that you are all standing in front of Hashem. When I look at my neighbor I must remember that just as Hashem made me an integral part of His creation, so did He make my neighbor. Helping my neighbor reach his perfection helps my reach mine. In Hashem’s eyes we are all limbs of one body: if limbs are in conflict, they damage themselves.

The word Vayeilech means and he went. It teaches us that we must always advance. As people, we constantly change. If we don’t go higher, we fall lower. Once, a great Rebbe asked his students the following: if two people are on two ladders, one on the second rung and one on the fiftieth, which is higher? Realizing there must be great depth in the question, the students waited for the answer. The Rebbe concluded “It depends which way they are going!” As we prepare for the New Year, we must advance in our service of Hashem. In addition to general improvement, it is important to take a new step, both in keeping a positive Mitzvah more carefully, and in being cautious concerning a prohibition. When our desire to improve is a general one, it often withers. When it is connected to a specific deed, it lasts and bears fruit. In Tanya, the Alter Rebbe explains that on the day of Rosh Hashanah a new divine illumination enters the world, the likes of which have never been revealed until now. The new Mitzvah or new step in a Mitzvah is our preparation to receive the new Divine light. May G-d grant that the new light this year will be the light of the redemption with the coming of Moshiach.

Shabbat Shalom and Ketivah Vachatimah Tovah!

Rabbi Biggs


Pruzbul

This coming year is a Shemittah (Sabbatical) year. In biblical times when the Yovel was observed, there was a Torah obligation to cancel all debts. Now the obligation is purely rabbinical. The Rabbis instituted that by assigning one’s debts to a Bet Din (Jewish court of three) one can collect them later. This assignment of debt is called Pruzbul. The Pruzbul can be done online before Wednesday evening at

http://www.chabad.org/tools/feedback_cdo/aid/5212/jewish/Fill-Out-a-Pruzbul.htm

A Pruzbul can also be made verbally, by saying to 3 Jewish men before Rosh Hashanah “I hereby transfer my debts to you as a court so that I can collect them whenever I want.” This is generally done during the annulment of vows.

Dedicated in memory of Adele Shiloach Adi Bat Miriam

May Hashem grant her perfect peace in Gan Eden and bless her entire family

http://www.chabadgn.com/holidays/jewishnewyear is a great website to better understand this month and the upcoming holidays. It also has times and services throughout the world.

Many families are struggling to put food on the table and the holidays are upon us. Please send a generous donation to the Chabad holiday food fund at the address below so that people who are out of jobs can have a dignified and enjoyable holiday. Contact me at rabbibiggs@gmail.com to make online donations.

A Project of Chabad of Great Neck
400 East Shore Rd. Great Neck NY 11024
516 4874554 fax 516 4874807

 


 
   
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