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Wednesday, September 29

The Weekly Shtikle - Shemini Atzeres / Simchas Torah

    The Hoshanos ritual which is performed daily on Sukkos ends with a passage from Shelomoh HaMelech's prayer upon the completion of the Beis HaMikdash: (Melachim I 8:59-60) "May these words of mine, which I have suplicated before HaShem, be near to HaShem, our God, by day and by night; that He bring about justice for His servant and justice for His people, Israel, each day's need in its day..." On Shemini Atzeres, when we no longer perform the Hoshanos ritual, this passage appears once again in the haftarah.
    There are some obvious and practical reasons for the inclusion of this passage but I would like to suggest another. The Mishnah (Rosh HaShanah 16a) states the virtually obvious, that we are all judged on Rosh HaShanah. However, the opinion of R' Yose in the gemara is that we are in fact judged every day. The pasuk which the gemara eventually determines is R' Yose's source, is the above quoted pasuk from Melachim.
    The final seal of the judgement of Yom Kippur is said to stretch until Hoshana Rabba. As the intensity of the Yemei HaDin wanes, one might tend to feel that the judgement is "over." One might feel that we will not be judged again until the next Tishrei. This is certainly not the mindset with which we want to be leaving the great month of Tishrei. The repetition of this pasuk throughout Sukkos, and then one last time on Shemini Atzeres, drives home the message that Divine judgement is not something reserved only for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur but something we must be constantly aware of on a daily basis.


  For Simchas Torah, I would like to revisit a question I had last year and a nice thought contributed by a cousin of mine. Here is the original question: When Moshe blesses the tribes before his passing, nearly all of the blessings are given in the third person - "Yechi Reuvein ve'al yamos," "Shema HaShem kol Yehudah," etc. But there are a number of exceptions. First, the berachah of Levi begins "tumecha v'urecha," in the second person."Semach Zevulun betzeisecha, veYissachar be'ohalecha" would probably also qualify as second person. So why are these blessings different from the others in that manner? (A similar analysis may be done on the berachos in Vayechi.)

   First, my question was based on a slight misconception. A more careful analysis of the berachos reveals that they are in fact expressed as Moshe beseeching HaShem on each tribe's behalf. "Tumecha v'urecha" is not an exception. It's not Levi's "Tumim veUrim," but rather HaShem's. But that opens up a fascinating insight into the berachah of Yissachar and Zevulun. One would not necessarily expect "tzeisecha," the comings and goings of Zevulun, to be expressed as belonging to HaShem. But we see, nevertheless, that when the classic Yissachar-Zevulun relationship is arranged, with Zevulun engaging in business in order to support Yissachar's Torah study, his business is regarded with the same "Divinity" as Yissachar's learning.

   (The berachos of Vayechi are more difficult to explain, however. I guess I have a couple of weeks to come up with something on that.)

Have a chag samei'ach!

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Do You Sea what I Sea?
AstroTorah: Sukkos and Going Extreme by R' Ari Storch

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