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September 28, 2016 / 25 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Time’

Q & A: Elul – A Time To Repent (Part III)

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Question: Where does the name Elul come from? Also, how can Elul be both the last month of the year and the prequel to the holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) that occur in the following month, Tishrei, the first month of the new year? Finally, can you please discuss the religious practices of Elul?

M. Goldman
Miami Beach, FL

 

Summary of our response up to this point: Elul is really the sixth month of the year, as the Torah counts the new year from Nissan when the Jewish nation was freed from slavery and able to serve G-d exclusively. The Gemara explains that Rosh Hashanah is when we are judged for the coming year; that’s why Tishrei is also considered the beginning of the year (Rosh Hashanah 7a). Rosh Hashanah is mentioned as the time for being judged and blowing the shofar (Numbers 29:1).

* * * * *

The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 581:1) states the following in the name of Acharonim: “It is the custom in our countries that from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Yom Kippur, we say LeDavid Hashem Ori (Psalm 27) every day at the conclusion of the morning and evening tefillah, and then we recite Kaddish. We, however, are accustomed to say it until Shemini Atzeret, which includes the day of Shemini Atzeret as well.”

The Mishnah Berurah continues: “On days when we say Mussaf [such as Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, or Yom Tov], we say it at the conclusion of Shacharit, before Ein Kamocha. In the evening, we say it at the conclusion of Minchah [or Maariv according to Nussach Ashkenaz]. In places where it is recited after [Mussaf] on Rosh Chodesh, it is proper to first say Barechi Nafshi [Psalm 104]. In places where it is said after Shacharit, it is proper to first say Shir Shel Yom.”

We find almost identical language in Matteh Ephraim (by R. Ephraim Zalman Margolies of Brod), Orach Chayim 581:6, where we find the commentary Elef Hamagen (by Rav Meshulam Finkelstein of Warsaw), who notes, as we stated, that some say LeDavid Hashem Ori after Maariv and not after Minchah.

It would seem that those who say LeDavid Hashem Ori after Maariv would start saying it the eve of Rosh Chodesh Elul while those who say it after Minchah would only start saying it the following day. However, Likutei Maharich, who cites Matteh Ephraim (see also Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128:2), seems to imply that either way, we only start saying it the morning of Rosh Chodesh Elul. He writes that “we say it in the morning and in the evening.” Indeed, that is our custom. Both those who say LeDavid Hashem Ori after Minchah and those who say it after Maariv only begin saying it the morning of Rosh Chodesh Elul.

Most agree that we continue saying this psalm through Shemini Atzeret.

In Otzar Erchei HaYahadut (by Rabbi Joseph Grossman, p. 246), the source for saying LeDavid Hashem Ori at this time of year is explained. Rabbi Grossman cites Midrash Shocher Tov, which states that the word “ori – my light ” in this psalm refers to Rosh Hashanah. (In Elef Hamagen ad loc. R. Finkelstein cites R. Israel Hapstein, the Koznitzer Maggid, who explains that out of fear of Hashem’s judgment, darkness descends upon man. Then, Hashem in His great mercy, shows light to man from afar.) Midrash Shocher Tov states further that “veyish’i – and my salvation” refers to Yom Kippur; “ki yitzpeneini besukko – He will conceal me in His tent” alludes to Sukkot; and “mimi i’ra – whom shall I fear” alludes to Hoshana Rabba, which is understood to include Shemini Atzeret as well.

As to why we say LeDavid Hashem Ori for the whole month of Elul, Rabbi Grossman cites Minhagei Yeshurun (13a), which notes that the word “lulei” (lit. “that I would”) in the penultimate verse in the psalm contains the letters alef, lamed, vav, and lamed, which are the letters of “Elul.” This explanation also accounts for why we recite this psalm only starting on the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, since the first day of Rosh Chodesh is actually the last day of the previous month, Av.

We find another custom relevant to the month of Elul, as cited by Ba’er Heitev (Orach Chayim 581:10): “When a person writes a letter to his friend [in Elul], he should mention at the beginning that he wishes a year full of goodness for him.”

Today we expand upon this practice during the entire month: When we meet and greet people, we wish them either a “ketiva vechatima tova – May you be written and inscribed for good,” or the variant, “Leshana tova tikatevu vetechatemu,” which means the same.

Likutei Maharich (ad loc.) notes that the Ba’er Heitev is essentially quoting the Maharil, and an allusion to this custom might be found in Parashat Yitro (Exodus 18:7): “Vayetze Moshe likrat chotno vayishtachu vayishak lo vayish’alu ish lere’ehu leshalom vayavo’u ha’ohela – Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and bowed and kissed him, and each inquired about the other’s well-being, and then they came into the tent.” The words “vayish’alu ish lere’ehu leshalom” begin with the letters vav, alef, lamed, and lamed, which form the word Elul, meaning that during the month of Elul, we inquire about each other’s well-being.

Likutei Maharich points out that some start their letters with this greeting (as seen in the introduction to Avodat Hagershuni as well as in Matteh Ephraim) while others sign off with these words as a salutation.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

ON THE FRONTLINES: For the First Time Since 1930’s Jews Returning to the Lions Gate

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

{Originally posted to the Israel Rising website}

Today’s trip into the depths of the “Muslim Quarter” brought myself and Rabbi Ben Packer to a recently reacquired pro
perty near to the Lion’s Gate. The property was found to belong to Jews when an attorney investigating another property saw this one listed in the binder.

Nestled up and to the left of the Lion’s Gate, the neighborhood has had no Jews living in it since the 1930’s when they were driven out.  In fact, the Border Patrol by the Lion’s Gate stopped us before getting permission from their commanders to let us through.

The property shares a courtyard with an Arab family who were very pleasant and received us warmly. According to reports the Arab on Arab crime in the neighborhood makes it a dangerous area altogether.  The family like others hopes that the presence of Jewish residents will bring much needed police and development.

Watch the video.

lions-gate_-packer-4-768x432

David Mark

Tamar Yonah Show – Is it Bomb Shelter Time? [audio]

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

So much news, so little time! 1) Join Paul Miller, director of www.SalomonCenter.org as he discusses the latest in the New York Bombings, the United Nations and a class/course that was canceled in Berkeley.

2) A Jordanian Arab calls into the show and sadly tells Tamar that his country hates Israel and thinks Jews are robbers and ‘occupiers’.

3) Tamar reminds people that there will be an emergency drill in Israel due to the possibility that Hezbollah will open fire on Israeli towns and cities. Israel’s Home Front Command will be sounding off a siren so citizens can practice getting to a bomb shelter in times of attack.

Tamar Yonah 19Sept2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Converted to Islam Just in Time for Hajj

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Simon Collins, 60, is the first British ambassador to Saudi Arabia to attend the Hajj pilgrimage, which is verboten to non-Muslims. This is because Collins has converted to Islam. He joined an estimated 100 thousand Brits who have embraced the religion of Mohammad, including, possibly, the late Sir Winston Churchill.

Inayat Bunglawala, founder of Muslims4UK, a Muslim missionary organization, told the Independent in 2011 that these figures were “not implausible.” He pointed out they mean “that around one in 600 Britons is a convert to the faith,” noting, “Islam is a missionary religion and many Muslim organizations and particularly university students’ Islamic societies have active outreach programs designed to remove popular misconceptions about the faith.”

Collins was pictured wearing the white robes of the pilgrimage. The photo was posted on the twitter account of Saudi Arabian writer and feminist Fawziah Albakr, who wrote in Arabic: “First British ambassador to the Kingdom undertakes the Hajj following his conversion to Islam. Simon Collins with his wife Huda in Mecca. Praise be to God.”

Twitter users who congratulated the Collinses included Saudi Arabia’s Princess Basmah bint Saud, who wrote: “Special congratulations to the ambassador and his wife.”

Collins was posted in Riyadh in 2015, after fleeing Syria where he represented the UK until 2012. Before that Collins was the UK’s ambassador to Qatar, after stints in the UK missions to Bahrain, Tunisia, India, Jordan and Dubai.

Are the Brits easily influenced by outside religions? You bet. In 2014 a letter was discovered by Warren Dockter, a history research fellow at Cambridge University, in which Winston Churchill is being beseeched by his future sister-in-law, Lady Gwendoline Bertie, in August 1907: “Please don’t become converted to Islam; I have noticed in your disposition a tendency to orientalize, Pasha-like tendencies, I really have.”

Lady Gwendoline cautioned: “If you come into contact with Islam your conversion might be effected with greater ease than you might have supposed, call of the blood, don’t you know what I mean, do fight against it.”

Churchill wrote Lady Lytton, also in 2007: “You will think me a pasha. I wish I were.”

Mazal tov.

David Israel

Q & A: Elul – A Time To Repent (Part II)

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Question: Where does the name Elul come from? Also, how can Elul be both the last month of the year and the prequel to the holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) that occur in the following month, Tishrei, the first month of the new year? Finally, can you please discuss the religious practices of Elul?

M. Goldman
Miami Beach, FL

 

Summary of our response up to this point: Elul is really the sixth month of the year, as the Torah counts the new year from Nissan when the Jewish nation was freed from slavery and able to serve G-d exclusively. The Gemara explains that Rosh Hashanah is when we are judged for the coming year; that’s why Tishrei is also considered the beginning of the year (Rosh Hashanah 7a). Rosh Hashanah is mentioned as the time for being judged and blowing the shofar (Numbers 29:1).

 

* * * * *

 

The Yamim Nora’im, a time of introspection and reflection as we await our annual judgment, are properly introduced by the month of Elul, which acts as a facilitator to the great task ahead. Thus, each year, with the arrival of Elul, we start the process of teshuvah (repentance).

One way we begin the intensified focus on teshuvah is with the sounds of the shofar. The shofar, which we blow throughout Elul, is mentioned by the prophet Amos: “Im yitaka shofar be’ir ve’am lo yecheradu – Is the shofar ever sounded in a city and the people do not tremble?” (Amos 3:6). Amos emphasizes the unique property of the shofar’s blasts – the piercing sound, which causes one to tremble.

Likkutei Maharich (Dinei U’minhagei Chodesh Elul 55b) states: “It happens to be the custom in all Jewish communities to blow the shofar in the month of Elul.” He cites the Tur (Orach Chayim 581), who gives Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer (chapter 46) as the source for this practice. There we read: “On Rosh Chodesh Elul Moses went up on the mountain [Sinai] to receive the second set of Tablets. They then sounded the shofar in the encampment. Therefore, our sages instituted that we blow the shofar starting on Rosh Chodesh Elul every year.”

Likkutei Maharich continues: “In Yitav Panim by the Sigheter Rav, Rabbi Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum, he quotes his grandfather, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, author of Yismach Moshe, who provides a beautiful hint for the source of our custom.” He points out that there are 12 words containing the syllables ha-lle-lu in Psalm 150. The first mention corresponds to Nissan, the first month, and the sixth mention – “Halleluhu be’teka shofar – Praise Him with the sound of the shofar” – appropriately corresponds to Elul, the sixth month. (The practice of saying Hallel on Rosh Chodesh in general is alluded to in these 12 mentions of ha-lle-lu, writes the Beit Yosef [Tur Orach Chayim 422, in the name of Shibbolei HaLeket].)

Likkutei Maharich continues: “In Sefer Roke’ach (siman 208) we find that the original enactment was to sound the shofar from Rosh Chodesh Elul until Yom Kippur, just as they sounded the shofar all 40 days that Moses was on the mountain to receive the Tablets, but Sefer Roke’ach concludes that in ‘this country’ [i.e., the custom in his day] we sound the shofar only until Rosh Hashanah.”

The Maharshal (Shabbos 89a, in the back of our Vilna Shas) cites a dispute between Rashi and Tosafot (89a ad loc.) on whether the day Moses ascended the mountain is considered part of the 40-day count. He cites Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer as proof to Tosafot’s contention that we count Moses’ ascent on Rosh Chodesh as the first day of the count of 40 – which will be arrived at if we include his ascent on the first day of Rosh Chodesh, which is the 30th day of Av (Av is always a “full” month containing 30 days whereas Elul is always “deficient,” containing only 29 days).

However, in Bava Kamma (82a s.v. “Kedei Shelo etc.”) Tosafot states that in the year Moses went up to receive the luchot, Elul was a “full” month, containing 30 days. Thus, he would have gone up on the first day of Elul (see Bach, Orach Chayim 581).

The above dispute is relevant to the discussion concerning when to begin blowing the shofar – on the first or second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul.

Tosafot reasons that in the year Moses went up on the mountain, Elul was a “full” month. Today, therefore, when Av is always a “full” month and Elul is “deficient,” we surely do not start to blow the shofar on the first day of Rosh Chodesh, which is now always the 30th of Av.

Indeed, our minhag is to blow the shofar only starting on the second day of Rosh Chodesh, according to the Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 581 ad loc.), up until and including Rosh Hashana, with the exception of Shabbatot, when we are prohibited to blow the shofar, and Erev Rosh Hashanah, when we refrain from blowing so as to differentiate between tekiot reshut, optional shofar blasts, and tekiot chovah, biblically-required blasts.

As for why we only blow the shofar for 30 days, not 40, Matteh Moshe (ad loc.) and Likkutei Maharich (loc. cit. quoting Minhagim) explain that there is a hint to this custom in Psalms 81:4-5: “Tik’u bachodesh shofar bakesseh leyom chagenu – Blow the shofar at the moon’s renewal when [the moon] is covered on our festive day.” The verse seems to suggest that we blow the shofar for a month, which is generally 30 days. And that is what we do. Elul is 28 days (excluding Erev Rosh Hashanah) and Rosh Hashanah is two days, giving us 30 days.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Q & A: Elul – A Time To Repent

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Question: Where does the name Elul come from? How can Elul be both the last month of the year and the prequel of the holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) that occur in the following month, Tishrei? Finally, can you please discuss the religious practices of Elul?

M. Goldman
Miami Beach, FL

 

Answer: The name Elul, as well as the names of all the other months of the year, are of Babylonian, not biblical, origin. They are the names the exiles brought back with them to the land of Judea after their 70-year expulsion.

The first mention of Elul in Tanach is in the Book of Nehemiah (6:15): “Vatishlam hachoma ba’esrim vachamisha le’elul lachamishim u’shenayim yom – So the wall [around the city of Jerusalem] was completed on the 25th of Elul in 52 days.” This verse appears amidst the story of the return of Ezra and Nehemiah with the exiles from Babylonia in their quest to resettle the land of Judea and restore Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.

As to its position in the calendar, Elul is actually not the last month of the year but the sixth; Nissan is considered the first month according to the Torah. Thus, we read in Parshat Bo (Exodus 12:2): “Hachodesh hazeh lachem rosh chodashim, rishon hu lachem lechodshei hashana – This month shall be for you the beginning of the months, it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Rashi (ad loc.) explains that this pasuk refers to Nissan. And if Nissan is the first month, Elul is the sixth.

It seems strange that the first day of the first month – i.e., Nissan – is not Rosh Hashanah. We read in the Gemara (Rosh Hashana 8a-b): “R. Nachman b. Yitzchak said: [The first of Tishrei is the New Year] for judgment, as the Torah states [Deuteronomy 11:12], “…einei Hashem Elokecha bah mereishit hashana ve’ad acharit shana – …the eyes of Hashem your G-d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to year’s end.” This means that from the beginning of the year, judgment is issued regarding what will occur until the year’s end.”

The Gemara asks, “How do we know that this verse refers to [the first of] Tishrei? Because Psalms 81:4 states, ‘Tik’u bachodesh shofar bakesseh leyom chagenu – Blow the shofar at the moon’s renewal, when [the moon] is covered on our festive day.’”

The Gemara asks further, “Now on which festival is the moon covered [i.e., not visible]? We must surely say this is Rosh Hashanah,” which falls on the first day of the month, when the moon is not visible, the only festival so placed in our calendar. Furthermore, the following verse (Psalms 81:5) reads: “Ki chok leYisrael hu, mishpat leElokei Yaakov – Because it is a statute for Israel, a judgment [day] unto the G-d of Jacob.” We thus see that Rosh Hashanah is the day of judgment.

As to clearly placing this day of judgment on the first (and second) of Tishrei, we read the following in Parshat Pinchas (Numbers 29:1): “Uvachodesh hashevi’i be’echad lachodesh mikra kodesh yihyeh lachem kol melechet avoda lo ta’asu yom teruah yihyeh lachem – In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, there shall be a holy convocation for you, you shall do no laborious work, it shall be a day of shofar sounding for you.”

Thus we see that the day(s) specifically set aside for blowing the shofar is the first (and the second) of the seventh month (counting from Nissan).

Why, then, is Nissan counted as the first month? Because it celebrates the purpose of Hashem’s creation – the nationhood of the Children of Israel – as we were freed from slavery in Egypt at this time (see Rashi, Genesis 1:1 s.v. “Bereishit”).

We find two allusions to the name “Elul” in the Bach’s commentary to the Tur (Orach Chayim 581), citing the verse (Song of Songs 6:3), “Ani ledodi vedodi li – I am for my Beloved [Hashem] and my Beloved is for me.” The Bach notes that if we take the first letter of each word – aleph, lamed, vav, and lamed – we get the Hebrew word “Elul.” If we take the last letter of each word – yud, yud, yud, and yud – we have the gematria (numerical computation) of 40, which corresponds to the 40 days from Rosh Chodesh Elul until Yom Kippur. During those 40 days of repentance it is traditionally understood that one’s heart is closer to the Beloved (Hashem) through repentance, and consequently that the Beloved is closer to accept our repentance with love.

The Bach notes that we find another verse alluding to Elul in Parshat Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 30:6): “U’mal Hashem Elokecha et levav’cha ve’et levav zar’echa le’ahava et Hashem Elokecha bechol levav’cha u’vechol nafshecha lema’an chayyecha – Hashem your G-d will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your offspring, to love Hashem your G-d with all your heart and all your soul, that you may live.”

The first four letter of the words “et levav’cha ve’et levav – your heart and the heart of [your offspring]” are aleph, lamed, vav, and lamed – i.e., Elul.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

ICC on the Way to Israel…Will This Time be Different?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

{Originally posted to Israel Rising. Written by Orit ben Tzvi}

For the first time since 2014 a major international investigative body is coming to Israel. In the past the ICC took one-sided stances as far as Israel and the “Palestinian” Arab, yet the International Criminal Court has promised that this time would be different.

For one, neither of the past two commissioners of previous investigations have been allowed in the country. Secondly, the ICC and Israel out of mutual interest will be carrying joint press conferences. The question for observers is why?

There are no real answers, but Bibi Netanyahu’s seeming change in approach is most likely due to the ICC coming down from its own tree. Afterall the region has changed from bad to worse, with the Syrian conflict overshadowing anything the ICC has accused Israel of in the past. Furthermore, past investigations have been so one-sided the ICC has lost a great deal of legitimacy.

Perhaps the about-face by Israel has more to do with its new-found involvement in Sub Saharan Africa and increased integration as a tech giant with many of the emerging economies. After all, most of the attacks on Israel throughout the years have been directed from developing nations that have been cajoled to support Arab causes. With this the Arab block losing its leverage on these countries, Israel has far more wiggle room in the international arena.

Don’t Trust Them

That being said, the trip is not just for PR, but to determine whether the ICC needs to step in and run its own investigation on Israel’s actions. This is the same ICC that declared its support for a Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria.

The government may feel it is in its best interest to placate the court with a warmer visit, but the ICC as an arm of Western ambitions throughout the region and the developing world does not have Israel’s interest in mind.

Part of the trip, led by chief investigator Fatou Bensouda is to find out if Israel can be trusted to run its own investigation into the 2014 Gaza war as well as the “Palestinian” territories in Judea and Samaria. Although Bensouda recognized Palestinian statehood as per the recommendation of UN General Assembly in 2015, she has since struck a far more conciliatory tone.

Fatah Deputy_Prosecutor

In an interview earlier in the year with the Jerusalem Post Bensouda insists she will only follow the Rome Statute:

“We are not looking, judging the whole judicial system of any state or any system that is supposed to have jurisdiction or that could exercise jurisdiction. We are not looking at the judicial system and how it is functioning. We are looking particularly at specific crimes and we are looking at specific conduct, we’re looking at specific persons, who bear responsibility for those crimes and what is being done with regard to that…and as I always say [we are doing this] in an independent and very dispassionate way and this is very critical whether it is in…any other situation.”

Yet, given Israel’s experience in the past and the wide ability for the ICC to operate once it is allowed to do so, should give Israel pause in how much leeway it gives the court. For now it is still deliberating on keeping the trip to a series of photo-ops or allowing the court to bring reps into Arab villages inside Judea and Samaria.

Israel Rising

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