Divrei HaRav

Nitzovim-Rosh HaShana / נצבים-ראש השנה

Nitzovim-Rosh HaShana / נצבים-ראש השנה
In the Medrash, the story that occurred on the last day of Moshe Rebeinu’s life is related. HaShem spoke directly to Yehoshua. When asked by Moshe what He had said, Yehoshua responded, “did I ask you what He said all the forty years?!” Moshe was gripped with a sense of jealousy. He agreed that it is better to die then to live in such framework. Why was Yehoshua so mean to his teacher? The Vilna Gaon gives a beautiful interpretation. HaShem wanted so much that Moshe should agree to his final fate, that He commanded Yehoshua to respond with the exact words he said. Only afterwards did Moshe realize the source of the statement, but by then he already had tasted the taste of jealously and agreed to the divine decree.

Man was created with many multiple limbs – two hands, two feet, and so on. However, he was created with only one mind. Why is this so? The answer is that if he were to possess two minds, he would be constantly pulled in two separate directions. This is what HaShem told Yehoshua in His charge to him as the new leader: “Strike them on the head, one leader to a generation.” He was saying that the mind is the leader and there should only be one. (M’Shulchan Gevoah) We know however, that Chazal refer to the Yetzer HaTov and the Yetzer HaRa as two hearts. So we see that, in essence, man was created with two seats of thought and decision making. This is what the possuk “See I have placed before you good and evil” means. That is to say, you are being drawn in two directions - choose the right path.

In the parsha when it discusses the abundance of your property, it lists the animals first and then the produce of the field. In parshas Ki Savo the list is reversed - first the fields and then the animals. R’ Chaim, shlita, explains that the parsha of Ki Savo is a reference to those who adhere to the words of the Torah, the tzadikim. Their lives paralleled the sequence of the cycle of the year starting with Nisson. Hence, the grain is first harvested and only later in Av and Elul is the time for tending to the animals (MS’ R.H.8) This parsha, however, is the parsha of the Baal Tshuva, who only changes in midstream. As such, the Torah lists the more important possessions of a man, the animals, before the grains of the field. (MS’Chulin 86).

At the end of the parsha, Moshe Rebeinu writes a Sefer Torah and commands the people to place it on the side of the Aron HaKodesh. In Bava Basra 14 there is a famous controversy as to whether it was actually inside the Aron HaKodesh or on a ledge on the side of the Aron HaKodesh. Perhaps, both are essential to the understanding of the Sefer Torah. On one hand, it parallels the importance of the tablets. It deserves a place alongside the “luchos” and is of equal “kedushah”. On the other hand, the significance of the Torah is of even greater meaning to the Bnei Yisroel. This is their teacher and guide. This is what is held up to them as a model and also as a testimony of the life they should live. Hence, it could not be concealed or encased out of sight of the people. So, in essence, the Sefer Torah filled the role of both places and both are correct.

"Hashem Ori Viyishi" - Hashem is my light and my salvation. The Medrash explains that "my light" is Rosh Hashanah, and "my salvation" is Yom Kippur. R' Yisroel Salanter asks, "if Yom Kippur is forgiveness of sins, and Rosh Hashanah is the day of Judgement, shouldn't Yom Kippur come first?" He answers. Rosh Hashanah is the judgement of all our physical existence and we connect more with these problems than the spiritual parts of our life. Since Yom Kippur is our atonement for the spiritual we would not be up to it if not for the fact that we first are fired up for the Rosh Hashanah encounter. This then is the kindness of Hashem; He gives us light on Rosh Hashanah and therefore can offer salvation on Yom Kippur. (Kihilos Yitzchok)

In all our davening we recite the holy words the text prepared by the Anshei Kinesses Hagedola. Now, we strive to understand the sublime and secret inner meanings of each passage. However, we fall far short. We should not despair. We could liken ourselves to the horse that turns the wheel that creates the power to grind the wheat. The horse itself knows nothing of the real inner workings of the wheel and only is aware of the path upon which it walks. The rest follows as a result of his action. So too, our job is just to walk the path of the simple "kavana" of davening. All the rest of the heavenly and elevated implications of the prayer occur automatically. (Kihilos Yitzchok)

It is written in the Maasei Rav of the Vilna Gaon that one should not cry on Rosh Hashanah for it is not the theme of the day to cry. On the other hand, it is written from the Ari 'z'l that he commended those who cry on Rosh Hashanah. R' Yisroel Salanter reconciled these two opinions. The Gemora in Rosh Hashanah expresses the theme of Rosh Hashanah as bending ones personality and as being a time to humble oneself. If so, then one whose tears flow freely for every little calamity should, on the contrary, not cry on Rosh Hashanah. One, however, who by nature refuses to cry should bend himself and cry on Rosh Hashanah. (Kihilos Yitzchok)

To understand the power of the Shofar we need only to read the Gemora in Rosh Hashanah 26. The Gemora tells us of the prohibition of using gold in the service in the Bais Hamikdosh for it reminds Hashem of the golden calf. Likewise, the Gemora points out that the horn of a calf should not be used, for it is also a reminder of the golden calf. The Gemora, however, asks that, the prohibition only applies to the Kodesh Kodeshim. To this the answer is that since the Shofar is a direct reminder to Hashem it is equal to the Kohain Gadol entering the Kodesh Kodeshim.



Previous Parshos

Tazria Metzora Achrei Mos Kedoshim Emor Behar Bechukosai Bamidbar Shavuos Naso Behalosicha Shilach Korach Chukas-Balak Pinchos Matos-Masei Devorim Voeschonon Ekev Reah Shoftim Ki Seitzei Ki Savo Nitzovim - Vayelech Rosh HaShana Haazinu-Yom Kippur Sukkos V'zos HaBrocha Breishis