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Monday, September 29

The Weekly Shtikle - Rosh HaShanah

While Rosh HaShanah is one of the most crucial days of the year in our calendar, its details in the actual pesukim are very scarce. One need only open a Bible to read that we eat matzah on Pesach, eat in the sukkah on Sukkos, and that Yom Kippur is a day of atonement. But nowhere is it mentioned that Rosh HaShanah is a day of judgement. Even the procedures concerning the blowing of the shofar are barely mentioned. Rosh HaShanah is merely referred to as "zichron teruah," (Vayikra 23:24) and "yom teruah," (Bemidbar 29:1).


Why, though, is the word teruah used? Why is it not referred to as "yom tekiah?" We are first introduced to the contrast between tekiah and teruah in the portion dealing with the blowing of the trumpets. We are told that on holidays and joyous days, "uskatem bachatzotzeros," (Bemidbar 10:10) tekiah rather than teruah is mentioned. But when we are faced with war and we must engage in intense prayer, we are told (10:9) "vahareiosem bachatzotzeros," teruah rather than tekiah. Teruah, in its nature, a series of broken sounds, denotes a broken spirit as applicable in such a solemn time as the onset of war. While Rosh HaShanah is a holiday, it would seem that the broken sounds of the teurah more accurately represent the tone and the seriousness of the day.


It is ironic, though, that in machzorim, the shofar blowing is generally referred to as "Tekias Shofar." However, the very first halachah in Rambam's Hilchos Shofar states "Mitzvas aseih shel Torah lishmoa teruas hashofar..."


The word teruah is an intriguing word. It seems to share a common root with "ra," bad. However, we observe in the Rosh HaShanah davening that the word "teruah" can also be used to mean close friendship or affection, as in "ve'ahavta lereiacha kamocha." How do these seemingly opposite ideas come together in the same word? I leave you with that to discuss over apples and honey.

Have a kesivah vachasimah tovah and shanah tovah umesukah!

Eliezer Bulka


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