Sunday, September 30, 2018

the closing act

This limud should be a zechus for a refuah sheleimah for Shulamis bas Sarah Sacha.

Apologies for not having time to write more...

1) The Mishna at the end of the 5th perek of Chulin writes that even though normally only meshicha is koneh, there is a takanah that 4 times a year ma'os konos to buy meat.  Meaning, if you paid the butcher for a brisket for Yom Tov, even if he has to shecht an entire cow to give it to you and he doesn't know if there will be any other customers, he has to do so and can't just return your payment.  The payment completes the sale and the butcher can't back out.  There is such a demand for brisket for the Yom Tov that Chazal made is easier for everyone to get their meat : )  

Interestingly, Sukkos is not one of these 4 days, but erev Shmini Atzeres is.  Chasam Sofer in his Derashos quotes from the Yaavet"z that this proves that the chasima of our din is still incomplete until the end of the chag.  Who can truly fully celebrate when there is an unresolved judgment hanging over their head?  Who can enjoy their brisket in that state?  It's only at the end of the chag, as we approach Shmini Atzeres, when all will be resolved l'tovah IY"H, that we can celebrate.

2) The Midrash teaches that ha'posei'ach, the one who opens the Torah reading, recites a bracha, and the choseim, the one who reads last, closes the reading with a bracha.  (In the days of Chazal there was not a bracha recited before/after each aliya like we do, but rather one bracha was said before the start of the kriah and one at its conclusion).  The source of the bracha before reading, says the Midrash, is the pasuk "baruch atah Hashem lamdeini chukecha."  The source for the bracha at the conclusion of the reading is because "v'zos habracha..."  follows the shirah of Ha'azinu.

The obvious question: the pasuk of "v'zos habracha…" is not a blessing on the words of Torah that Moshe read.  It is a blessing given to Klal Yisrael.  What does that have to do with birchas haTorah?

Sadly, for a lot of people Torah is a closed book.  Take a peek at your average yeshivah high school classroom, for example, and you will see the glazed over eyes of the students, the captives forced to sit listening to lectures on topics that have no interest in, analyzing a dry book written in a language they cannot understand.

"Ha'posei'ach ba'Torah…"  How do you open that book?  It starts with "baruch atah Hashem lamdeini chukecha."  No one comes to school and says "Thank G-d we can study algebra today!" or "Thank G-d for Hamlet today!"  But when we sit down and crack open a sefer, that's how we have to start our learning.  We need to build love and appreciation for Torah first, before getting to the Tosfos or the R' Chaim, or we will never get out of the starting gate.

But even after you come to appreciate Torah, that's not enough.

"Sameini k'chosam al libecha…"   A chosam is a seal; it identifies who you are.  V'zos habracha is about who we are as Klal Yisrael -- our strengths and weaknesses, our future destiny.  Ha'choseim ba'Torah means Torah defines who we are.  It's not just a book we study; it's our identity.

We opened the Yamim Tovim with Rosh haShana and tekiyas shofar; now we come to the chasima: not just the closing of the books, the closing of the din, but the "sameini k'chosam" -- when we take all we have gleaned from these special days and make it part of our identity, part of who will be will during this coming year.  (based on Shem m'Shmuel Nitzavim 5672)

1 comment:

  1. "We opened with...Rosh we come to the chasima"

    but erev Rosh haShana is one of the "4 times a year" to koneh meat with money! how so? is not "judgment hanging" overhead?

    on Rosh haShana one needn't be in Yerushalayim, directly under G-d, as on Sukkos [at the start of the month, judgment is hanging over yonder mountain*]

    *of course one shouldn't get too caught up in "dancing and partying" on the front end of tishrei, lest he eat his "own kishkes up with grief down the road" (D.C., July 23 '18)...