Parashat Haazinu / Yom Kippur / Sukkot
In Honor of My Wife Jeanne and My Beautiful Family That Hashem Has Blessed Me With by Raymond Kassin
Parashat Haazinu / Yom Kippur / Sukkot Haazinu This week’s parasha is written as a song to B'nei Yisrael. In the previous parshiot, Moshe spoke to the Jewish people about all the good that Hashem will bestow upon them if they follow the ways of the Torah. Moshe describes the ultimate joy that will come to them as they enter the land of Israel and keep the ways of the Torah until our final redemption! We read this poetic passage about Yaakov, “He discovered him in a desert land, in desolation, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He granted him discernment, He preserved him like the pupil of His eye (32:10).” Rashi comments that Hashem discovered Israel’s loyalty during the forty years in the desert, and they proved themselves. Hashem surrounded B'nei Yisrael with clouds of glory and protection from the elements and gave them the maan as food to sustain them. He also granted them the wisdom of the Torah. Yom Kippur Charlie Harary once explained his theory about Yom Kippur. He said Yom Kippur is a day that you’re alone with your Dad in Heaven. It’s a day He clears out the things that separate you from Him—food, comfort, routine, failures, insecurities, and grudges. He strips us down to the real us, the soul underneath all the clutter. One day a year, G-d says, “Come home. Be with Me for a day. Talk to Me for real.” The Gemara Rosh Hashanah (16b) says that there are three books open on Rosh Hashanah: the Book of the Righteous, the Book of the Wicked, and the Book of the Benoni—the in-between, who are at 50:50. The Gemara tells us that the Benoni people need one more merit to push them into the Book of the Righteous. As we mentioned last week, the Rambam explains that we should do teshuvah to tilt the scale in our favor. If we do not take advantage of teshuvah this week of Aseret Yemei Teshuvah it would be a great sin, because Hashem is very close to us, and doing proper teshuvah can easily push the scale to the Book of the Righteous. Will Dad Want Me? Every day in the Amidah, we recite a blessing about teshuvah. The blessing ends with the words “Hashem HaRotzeh b’Teshuvah—Hashem desires repentance.” We recite these words so many times during the year that perhaps they lose their impact. These words do not mean that the Almighty will just accept our repentance, but that He wants our repentance. His desire for us to come back is so enormous that as long as we make even a minimal effort, He will be waiting there to take us back. Rabbi Frand told a story about a boy who finished high school and, as is quite typical of youth that age, he told his parents he wanted to see the world. His father told him, “No, I want you to start college.” The boy would not accept his father’s advice. “I need to see what the rest of the world is like. I want to travel.” The father told his son “If you leave, don’t bother coming back. You can start college now or you can leave this house and keep on going because you will never be welcome again.” The boy decided to leave anyway. He left his home in Maryland and began hitchhiking across America. He did odd jobs here and there just to keep himself going. After some time, the boy became home sick. He missed his parents. He missed home. He started hitchhiking back to the east coast. He got as far as Iowa, sat down on a curb somewhere and wrote a letter home. “Dear Mom, I’m tired. I’m hungry. I’m lonely. I want to come home. But I don’t know if Dad will let me home. Mom, the train passes an apple tree near the tracks by our house. If Dad will let me in, please tie a white cloth around a branch of that tree. I’ll get on the train and look for the apple tree and check. If Dad still feels the same way and there’s no white cloth, I’ll know that I can’t come home.” The boy boarded a passenger train and started heading towards home. As the train approached the tree, he became terribly nervous. Would there be a cloth there? As it came closer and closer, he turned to the man sitting next to him on the train and said, “Please do me a favor. We’re going to pass a farm with an apple tree right near the tracks. I am going to close my eyes. Just tell me if there is a white cloth wrapped around a branch on that tree. I’m too nervous to look myself.” He was so scared that the towel wouldn’t be there. He sat with his eyes tightly shut as the train passed the tree. The man said, “Son, there is a white cloth around every branch on that tree.” The father couldn’t wait for the son to come home. This is what “Hashem desires repentance” means. Hashem wants us back, passionately, just like any father who may have had disagreements with his son. Hashem certainly wants us back as much as any flesh and blood father would ever want his son back, if not ten times more. May we all merit to do a complete repentance and be sealed for a long life of happiness, health, and success. Amen! Sukkot - Samachta Bechagecha This upcoming week we will be celebrating the wonderful holiday of Sukkot, which is marked by a unique command to “live” in the Sukkah. We are commanded to eat our meals in the Sukkah, and many people even sleep in the Sukkah as well. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks comments, “When I sit in a Sukkah, I think to myself: that is how our ancestors lived. Not just in the desert in the days of Moses, but for most of the twenty centuries of exile, not knowing from one year to the next whether they’d still be there, or whether they’d be forced to move on, as Jews were so often. Between 1290 when they were expelled from England and 1492 when they were evicted from Spain, Jews knew what it was like to have no fixed home: to know that the place you were living was just a temporary dwelling, which is what a Sukkah is.” On Sukkot, more so than any other holiday, we are supposed to be happy -- Samachta Bechagecha! Sukkot also marks a change in the mood of the holidays that we have during the month of Tishrei. After Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, holidays of awe and solemnity, we have Sukkot, a holiday on which we are commanded to be happy and rejoice. The Chida, R’ Chaim Yosef David Azulay, writes that there is a reason these holidays are so close together. During Sukkot, we are commanded to leave our homes and move to a temporary dwelling outdoors. We just celebrated the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Those were days that we had spoken about how spiritual matters should be primary in our lives, days on which we dedicated ourselves to serving Hashem and asked forgiveness for our pursuit of earthly pleasures. The Sukkah now highlights what we have just experienced, and it reminds us that our materialistic values in this world are only temporary, just as our dwelling in the Sukkah. Hashem is giving us a booster shot. After the serious times of the high holidays have slipped away, the Sukkah reminds us about our decision to pursue the spiritual. When we sit in the Sukkah, we are reminding ourselves that our goal is to do mitzvot in this temporary world for our next long life in Olam Habah. As it says in Pirke Avot, this world is “A vestibule before the world to come (4:21).” So on this holiday of Sukkot, we must follow the instruction “Samachta Bechagecha.” The Torah teaches us that happiness is not solely contingent on material possessions. One man who lives in a small apartment can be happier than another man living in a mansion. Therefore, eating our meals outside in a temporary dwelling can be just as fulfilling as being in our comfortable homes. Happiness is knowing that everything we have is from Hashem. “Ezehu ashir? Hasameach bechelko! -- Who is rich? The one who is happy with what he has!” On Sukkot, the joy comes from being with our families, having a door open to guests and ushpizin, and gratitude to Hashem for all He gives us. Eating and sleeping in the Sukkah is intended to assist us in clarifying our outlook on life. We must remember that life in this world is only temporary and that we can’t take anything with us. We also remember that all that we have, we received from Hashem. The Sukkah is a sanctuary of spirituality; the message of the Sukkah must remain with us during the long winter months, so that the type of year we asked Hashem for on Rosh Hashanah is the one that we'll merit to live. May we all appreciate the amazing gift of Yom Kippur and teshuvah that Hashem gave to us. May we take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to get closer to Hashem and our fellow Jew and make a complete atonement for all our sins. May we all live with true joy and bring on all the beautiful blessings of health, success, and peace for all of B’nei Yisrael! Amen! Shabbat Shalom and Tizku Leshanim Rabot! Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey Discussion Points:
Do we strip away all the clutter of everyday life and talk to Hashem with sincerity on Yom Kippur?
Are we truly joyful people?
In Parashat Haazinu, we learn that Hashem discovered Israel’s loyalty during the forty years in the desert, and they proved themselves. Hashem surrounded B'nei Yisrael with clouds of glory and protection from the elements and gave them the maan as food to sustain them.
Yom Kippur is a day that you’re alone with your Dad in Heaven. It’s a day He clears out the things that separate you from Him—food, comfort, routine, failures, insecurities, and grudges. He strips us down to the real us, the soul underneath all the clutter.
Every day in the Amidah, we recite a blessing about teshuvah. The blessing ends with the words “Hashem HaRotzeh b’Teshuvah—Hashem desires repentance.” These words do not mean that the Almighty will just accept our repentance, but that He wants our repentance.
On Sukkot, more so than any other holiday, we are supposed to be happy -- Samachta Bechagecha! Sukkot also marks a change in the mood of the holidays that we have during the month of Tishrei. After Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, holidays of awe and solemnity, we have Sukkot, a holiday on which we are commanded to be happy and rejoice. Happiness is knowing that everything we have is from Hashem.
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