by Joel Rich
Rosh Hashanah has been difficult for me for a long time. Rosh Hashana is both a Yom Din and a coronation night(malchiyot). F Scott Fitzgerald said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” So how can we experience the pure joy of a coronation at the same time that we feel the dread of judgement day?
But now I realize that I had really heard the answer many decades ago from Rav Nissan Alpert ZT”L. Everyone questions why on Pesach there is no blessing over saying the Haggadah, after all we are completing the mitzvah of sippur yetziat mitzrayim. Rav Alpert explained that we need to consider the text of a bracha which is usually of the form, “elokeinu MELECH haolam, asher kidshanu bmitzvotav VTZIVANU”. This text implies that before there can be a commandment, there must be an accepted commander. Since on Pesach we are re-experiencing the exodus in which we accepted the commander, we cannot say a blessing before such an acceptance.
I think this applies on Rosh Hashanah as well. It is the very act of accepting HKB”H as our king that engenders the fear of the Yom Hadin exist. If we don’t perceive authority, we have no reason to fear. It’s only once we accept that authority that we can experience our responsibility to that authority. Thus both feelings are caused by the same acceptance. We are thrilled by the ein od mlvado nature of our unique relationship with HKB”H even at the same time as we feel the weight of our assumed responsibility.
I found a fascinating statement by R’Avraham Ben HaRambam in “Hamaspik l’ovdei Hashem” chapter 30 (al shar brachot).
It sounds very much to me like R’YBS on maaseh/kiyum.
- The Rav’s 1979 Teshuva Drasha(Yiddish with Engllish with Yiddish subtitles-2+hours)
Topics include: Why we say the avodah in mussaf; The story of Yankel the ragged porter; The experience of hearing the recitation of the avodah by The Rav’s father and grandfather : The transition in the avodah from ecstasy to mourning; Understanding the Itzumo Shel Yom (essence of the day) and The role of Ne’ilah as a prayer that HKB”H accept all our prayers of Yom Kippur which is a special day of prayer.
- Rabbi Jeremy Wieder-Second Day of Rosh HaShanah: How is This [Second] Day Different From All Other [Second] Days?
A history of why a second day of Rosh Hashana was enacted by Chazal.
- Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh-Pesachim perek 1 shiur 6 (דף ב: – דף ג. ענייני קדשים)
Ongoing Talmud Shiur. Miscellaneous topics including hekter chalavim, kiddush yadaim and notar.
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Adler-Kol Nidrei and Tefillot Yom Kippur (Part 1)
Lessons from R’YBS concerning kol nidrei including: All (including sinners) must be included in our prayers; Past and future vow annulments mirror the tshuva process; three standing at amud (two plus chazzan) remind us of Amalek and our need to defeat our internal Amalek; Tshuva is both intellectual and emotional (each of us finds our own balance); and Lfnei hashem means putting aside everything else.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Davening For a Covid Patient Who Was Negligent Didn’t Wear a Mask
Why it’s ok to pray for someone who was careless and got Corona. (me – what about someone who recklessly endangered others?)
- Rabbi Ari Kahn-לערבב השטן
Perhaps the Satan is confused that we don’t appreciate the power of the shofar.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Ki Teitzei 5780
Parsha topics including: Amalek; Yerusha; Ben Sorer; Burial; Hashavat aveidah; Shiluach hakan; Klayim; Tzitzit and more.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5780
Parsha topics including: Splitting double parshyot; Singular vs plural usage when addressing klal yisrael; Torah as a composite text; Tshuva; Kibbush yachid; What mitzvah is not far from us?; and Hakheil
- Rabbi Eliav Silverman-Zrizin makdimin l’mitzvot
Zrizin makdimim lmitzvoth, why do we want alacrity? Is it to show our positive regard for the mitzvoth or just to be sure we don’t forget? Is it a hiddur or a chiyuv? How does it stack up vs. rov am? How early in the day is zrizin?
- Rabbi Itamar Rosensweig-הכל כמנהג המדינה: מנהג הדיוט, מנהג ותיקין, והסכמת אדם חשוב
Minhag vs. halacha in choshen mishpat – how does this work philosophically and in practice? What is the difference between a minhag hedyot and a minhag vaatik? (Me-the beholder?)
- Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh-Issur Veheter 6 (89:1)
Detailed analysis and discussion concerning waiting between milk and meat.
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-Making Sense of Chazal’s Values When They Appear to Contradict Modern Norms
Relating to “problems” with statements by chazal requires intellectual humility, the ability to perceive cultural transference and to be able to view chazal as closer to the mesorah.
- Dr. Yehudah Mirsky-Teshuva in the Teachings of Rav Kook (Part 1)
Part I – Kabbalistic elements of tshuva as cosmic rebirth as well as ultimate reconciliation.
- Rav Asher Weiss-התרת נדרים ערב ראש השנה
What’s the relationship between hatarat nedarim, kol nidrei, and Rosh Hashana? Who, how and when, especially in Covid times.
- Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh-Pesachim perek 1 shiur 7 (שלמים באור לשלישי, לשון נקיה, זמן בדיקת חמץ)
Ongoing gemara shiur. Topics include: Burning notar at night; Tosefet Yom Kippur; Preferred language – short or respectful or just not bad? and Why the preference to search for chametz early in the evening.
- Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom-A Voice Is Heard in Ramah: The Haftarah of 2nd Day Rosh Hashanah
Hearing the description of what turns out to be Mama Rachel crying is enough to make me cry. The message is one of our accepting mussar which will lead to our return.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Rosh Hashana 2020 YCQ
Rosh Hashana topics including: Praying to angels; Mikveh; Cholera epidemic; Candle lighting; Shechiyanu; Duchanin; Havdalah; Shofar; Vidui; Kol nidre/hatarat nedarim; Nusach haavodah; Korim and much more.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Sleeping on Rosh Hashanah
What are the reasons for the practice (of some) not to sleep on Rosh Hashana? In any event be sure not to waste your time! [me – all year long]
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Piyutim
13 middot are the key to selichot, the piyutim are nice but you should really understand them. Probably the aneinus at the end of slichot are more important than the piyutim.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-The Chazan for the Yamim Noraim: Can He Be a Baal Teshuva?
Is the S”A’s statement that the chazzan should not have had a bad name in his youth evidence in favor of the tsaddik vs the b’al tshuva in the “who is better” debate or just a din in prayer. R’YBS has an interesting insight (no help though for older baalei tshuva)
- Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg-שליחותיהו קעבדינן
Lomdus on does shlihutayhu work drabannan or duraita? In what cases might it not work?
- Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg-ביאור בדיני ברירה
Lomdus on whether the talmud’s cases of breirah (trumah, eivuv and yerusha) are all based on the same theory. How does breirah differ from tnai? Does today’s money have a din of kesef, shtarot or something else?
- Rabbi Reuven Brand-Risk Assessment in Halacha
Halacha recognizes subjectivity in defining acceptable risk both on an individual and group basis.
- Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb-R. Soloveitchik’s Approach to Reward and Punishment
Short insights from R’YBS on hashgacha pratit and tzidduk hadin.
- Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh-Pesachim perek 1 shiur 8 (דף ג עמוד ב)
Why does Pesachim start with defining Or? Then onto taharot; kodshim; Lashon; and The non-ben brit who ate karban pesach.
- Rabbi Eliakim Koenigsberg-Halacha Topics – Hilchos Yom Kippur
Yom kippur topics including: Eating on erev yom kippur (mitzvah or practical practice); Seeking forgiveness; Deodorant; Shiurim; Alleviating fasting discomfort; Mouthwash; Handwashing; Vidui; Tfilat zakah; Shofar and Ner sheshavat.
- Rabbi Moshe Kurtz-Rav Soloveitchik on Tzom Gedalia and Rav Asher Weiss on Videoing High Holiday Services
R’YBS on why the Rambam gave a reason different from the gemara for Tzom Gedalia (it’s really all about exile). R’AW on filming a holiday synagogue service for tv (no)
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Sheva Berachos After Shekia on the Last Day, and on Shabbos
Is sheva brachot part of birchat hamazon or a separate bracha? If Shabbat is the last day of sheva brachot, motzai Shabbat may be a bit different from other days as a carryover period.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-Which Mitzvot Did the Rabbis Uproot by Gezeirah to Prevent Issurin? (1)-R. Soloveitchik’s Approach to Reward and Punishment
Part one of how Chazal evaluate risk/reward in making takanot.
- Rabbi Etan Schnall-Avinu Malkeinu: Authorship and Anomalies
Avinu malkeinu zachor ki afar anachnu seems out of place as it is not a request. Perhaps it was written by R’Akiva who was maavir al midotav in order to remind us to do so with others so we could request the same treatment from HKB”H.
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