Thursday, November 24, 2016

It Really Works! - Rav Weinberger's Drasha after the Yomim Noraim

Baruch Hashem, Rav Weinberger has approved this version of this write-up of his drasha from the way back on parshas Haazinu. Big thank you to Reb Dovid Frei who wrote up this drasha! See here for past shiurim at's website by Rav Weinberger both as Mashpia at YU and from the past 20 years. You can also click on one of the following links to subscribe to the shiurim: emailrss feedpodcast, or iTunes. Please note that these drashos will only be available online for one month. If you notice any mistakes, please let me know so I can correct it. If you are interested in a particular drasha that is no longer online, you can email me (right sidebar) and I'll send it to you IY"H, BL"N.

Rav Moshe Weinberger
Parshas Haazinu 5777
It Really Works!

The tzadikim say that the period between Yom Kippur and Sukkos is a very special time quite apart from the fact that the Jewish people are busily immersed in the building of Sukkos and the acquisition of the four species.

The Tosher Rebbe, zy’a, explains that every day, each Jew enacts the lesson of the opening passuk of our parshah, “Listen o Heavens and I will speak, and the earth will hear the words of my mouth.” A Yid wakes up and immerses himself in davening, reflection, and learning, asking Hashem in Heaven to hear his entreaties. Only after he has sincerely prayed to Hashem is he then in a position to go out in to the world (“the earth”) and embark on his daily working life, always mindful that his actions are governed by “the words of My mouth,” the instructions of Hashem.

Similarly, the intensive period of Elul, Rosh Hashanah, the ten days of teshuvah, and Yom Kippur is one long continuous tefillah, when we are continuously involved in “Listen o Heavens and I will speak,” trying to minimize our contact with the outside world while embracing matters pertaining to the Heavens and fulfilling “and I will speak” with the numerous selichos and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur tefillos.

After Yom Kippur, we have reached the position of “after davening.” Rav Naftali Tzvi Horowitz, the Zerah Kodesh of Ropschitz, zy’a, would say that during the period between Yom Kippur and Sukkos, he could hear the tumultuous sound of Jewish prayers soaring Heavenward.

The Tosher Rebbe explains that after Yom Kippur, we enter into the period of “and the earth will hear the words of my mouth.” We return to the everyday world, interacting with our peers and families, but on an elevated plane so that our actions and speech are infused by a spirit of “the words of My mouth.”  

We are now fortified by our involvement with the Heavens in the Elul/Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur period to go confidently forward to rejoicing with our family and friends over Sukkos in a spirit that “the words of my mouth” will govern our behavior and interactions.

The Tosher Rebbe says that in these days following Yom Kippur, it is important to have faith that out tefillos have been accepted and that Hashem has acknowledged the sincerity of our teshuvah.

He cites a comment of the Bas Ayin on the passuk in Beshalach which speaks of how the Jewish people were hemmed in at the Red Sea, surrounded by wild animals to the sides, the Egyptians behind them, and the sea in front of them. When Moshe cried out to Hashem, He responded by asking (Shmos 14:15), “Why are you davening to Me”?

All the commentaries ask the obvious question: Why was Hashem asking why Moshe was davening? What was he supposed to do at a time of crisis? Are we not all taught to beseech Hashem when in danger?

The Bas Ayin quotes a teaching of the Arizal that the opening letters of the words “Why are you davening to Me? –  מה תצעק אלי” form the word אמת – truth. HaShem was telling Moshe that because his prayers had been expressed with a truthful and sincere heart, he should have the faith and trust that those tefillos have been accepted and no further tefillah was required.

This is the meaning of Rashi’s comment, “The matter is dependent on Me and not you,” i.e., that he had completed his task with the sincerity of his tefillos, and that now he should rely upon Me to answer them. Moshe was therefore commanded, “Speak to Yisroel and they should move forward.” They should proceed confidently into the sea, trusting that their tefillos had been accepted.

This is the position in which we find ourselves after Yom Kippur, needing to truly believe that our tefillos have been accepted. There is a tendency to doubt whether our efforts over the Yomim Noraim have borne fruit.

The Alter Rebbe, zy’a, commenting on the passuk (Tehillim 35:4), “For with You is forgiveness in order that You may be feared,” suggests that Hashem hides the fact that He has forgiven the Jewish people. In other words, He is aware of our forgiveness but we are not aware of it. This is in order that we not become complacent in our teshuvah. The forgiveness is hidden with you.

Nevertheless, Hashem does want us to believe that our tefillos and teshuvah have been accepted and this is our task in the approach to Sukkos – to understand that we are at the stage “and the earth will hear the words of My mouth.”

We are at the point of “Speak to Yisroel and they should move forward.” Significantly, the notion of moving forward is mentioned in the Torah more than once in connection with Sukkos. In Bereishis (34:17), we read that, “And Yaakov travelled to Sukkos,” and in Shmos (12:37) we read “And the children of Israel moved forward from Rameses to Sukkos.” Sukkos is the time to move forward to everyday living when we can fill the world with “the words of My mouth.”

Rav Yisroel of Ruzhin, zy’a, used to comment, in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek fashion regarding that which we begin davening on Shmini Atzeres, following the Yomim Noraim season, “May He return the wind and cause the rain to descend.” Because the word for wind (רוח) also means spirituality and the word for rain (גשם) also means materialism, he explained that after such a long period of davening and spirituality, we are asking Hashem to return the spirituality to where it came from and cause the materialism to descend. While he made his point in a humorous way, his lesson, that we should recognize that after Yom Kippur it is time to bring that spirituality back down to earthly life, is equally true.

May we all merit to bring the spirituality and success of our davening during this season into our material lives!

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1 comment:

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