Rabbi Yonasan Eybeschutz – a Kabbalist, posek, rosh yeshiva and dayan in 18th century Prague who authored many sefarim – writes in his famous Ye’aros Devash that man should take note of the awesomeness of the Day of Judgment. He paints a vivid picture: up to the moment when the shofar is blown, intense flames completely surround us and even the angels themselves tremble in fear in the face of the conflagration. Then, when the shofar blasts are sounded, they create a spirit of Heavenly chesed (loving kindness) that extinguishes the fire and showers the world. This is the reason cited for why the Shacharis prayers on Rosh Hashana should not be prolonged – for how could we delay tekias shofar when we are threatened by the impending danger of the raging fire?
The Be’er HaChaim determines from this that the shofar has the power to revoke and nullify harsh judgments and accusers from our midst. It inspires heavenly compassion and loving kindness in the world.
In Arvei Nachal, Rabbi Dovid Shlomo Eybeschutz writes that the shofar blasts of Rosh Hashana are equivalent to the tekios that were blown at the time of Yericho. The Jewish Nation entered Israel and embarked on their conquest of the land, beginning with the walled city of Yericho. With the kohanim and the Ark in front, they circled the city once a day for six days. On the seventh day, they circled it seven times; the kohanim then blew their shofars and the walls of Yericho crumbled, like when the shofar blasts of Rosh Hashana break down the barriers that separate us from Hashem and there is a clear path to our Father in Heaven. All the judgments disintegrate, replaced by mercy and abundant kindness.
The Shlah HaKadosh likewise explains that when the shofar is sounded it has the power to nullify even the harshest judgments. To explain this anomaly, the Zohar tells the story of a murderer who is incensed by one of his enemies and sets out to kill him. His target luckily has a friend standing in his doorway, and the friend blocks the would-be murderer’s access. Eventually, after waiting a long time for a break without success, the murderer’s anger subsides and he is no longer intent on killing his enemy. He remarks: “If that friend had not been standing in the doorway, I would certainly have killed him.”
In a like manner, Hashem, the beloved friend, stands at the doorway so that the accusers cannot enter while the Jewish Nation listens with a humbled heart to the sound of the shofar. It is said that when Rabbi Elazar Rokeach, the author of Maaseh Rokeach, was on a ship headed towards Eretz Yisrael, a storm broke out at sea. The rough seas began to toss the vessel around like a ball, putting the passengers at great risk. Since Rabbi Rokeach appeared to be a very righteous individual, the passengers approached him and begged him to pray for their salvation. It happened to be the night of Rosh Hashana, so the rabbi requested that his shofar be brought so that he could fulfill the mitzvah of the day as soon as it was daylight.
As soon as the sky began to brighten, Rabbi Elazar Rokeach blew the blasts of the day. After a short time, the storm abated, the winds subsided, and the ship continued to sail on calm waters. When presenting this story to his disciples, Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa explained that it was not the intention of Rabbi Rokeach that the shofar blasts should serve as a charm to quiet the storm. Rather, when he saw that all other efforts had failed and the ship would sink at any moment, causing the loss of all the passengers’ lives, he wanted to do one more mitzvah before his neshama left this world. Even at a time of such great danger, he forgot his own pain and suffering and only desired to be involved in a heavenly pursuit. It is that devotion that stirred the mercy of Heaven, saving him and all the passengers from certain death.
Now, during these auspicious days of teshuva, an opportunity is available for each person to add another mitzvah to their record of good deeds.
Each year I undertake to collect money, especially for Yom Tov, on behalf of destitute people. I have established a special Yom Tov Fund that I personally administer and distribute directly into the hands of those who are most in need.
I humbly beseech all our loyal readers of the Jewish Press and friends of Klal Yisroel to feel the pain of our brethren and to take a part in this great mitzvah. Let us give chizuk to families, individuals, and children in need. In the zechus of your contribution, may you merit blessing and success, a year of good health, nachas, happiness and prosperity. If you would like any special tefillos to be offered for a shidduch, shalom bayis, parnassah, or a refuah, please include the person’s name and the mother’s name.
Please send your contribution to Khal Bnei Yitzchok Yom Tov Fund, c/o Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, 1336 E. 21 Street, Brooklyn, NY 11210.