Reflections for the High Holidays
August 30, 2019
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the High Holidays. Rosh Hashanah is the New Year and Yom Kippur ,ten days later ,is the day of Atonement. This is a time of T’shuvah, repentance or literally “returning”.
This is the season when we as Jews, stand together before G-d and examine our lives in our past, present and future. Where did we succeed last year? Where did we fail.
We plead not for our innocence but our all-to-frequent guilt. Yet despite the solemnity of this drama ,its ultimate message is one of hope and divine forgiveness. We atone for our individual and communal sins committed over the course of the previous year. G-d’s rule over humanity and our need to serve G-d are stressed time and again over the course of this holiday.
During this High Holiday season, Jews all over the world will be entering synagogues, broken in spirit ,only to leave renewed and rededicated to making the world a better place.
As we begin this New Year 5780 , let us prayer a year of health ,happiness and prosperity for all our members and their dear families .To all members of our armed forces, may the Almighty watch over them and reunite them safe and sound with their dear families.
On behalf of my dear wife Norma, our dear children and grandchildren, we wish all our members and your dear families a Healthy and Happy New Year. May all of you be inscribed in the Book of Life.
To Tell the Truth
October 9, 2019
In 1956 a popular television program debuted, whereby panelists questioned contestants in an attempt to determine the actual person associated with a story. This show was named “To Tell the Truth.” The afternoon prayer (Mincha-מנחה) of Yom Kippur includes the reading of the Book of the Prophet Jonah (יונה) who lived in Israel about 2,700 years ago. Its theme is to pursue repentance and truth throughout one’s life in order to achieve atonement and a happy life. His name is Yona ben Amittai-יונה בן אמתי. Yona (Jonah) is the Hebrew name for a dove and Ben Amittai translated is “the son of truth.”
The dove is a metaphor for the Nation of Israel. Just as a dove is always loyal to its partner so is Israel loyal to G-d. G-d is the ultimate truth and His creations are bound to tell the truth. The Psalmist declares:
“מִי-הָאִישׁ, הֶחָפֵץ חַיִּים, אֹהֵב יָמִים, לִרְאוֹת טוֹב. נְצֹר לְשׁוֹנְךָ מֵרָע; וּשְׂפָתֶיךָ, מִדַּבֵּר מִרְמָה.”
“Whoever loves life and desires to see many good days? keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.” (Psalm 34, v.12-13).
“דאמר רבי חנינא: חותמו של הקדוש ברוך הוא אמת.”
Rabbi Chanina said: the seal of G-d is “truth.”
Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat, page 59a.
Throughout history mankind has experienced conflicts spiritually and physically. The source: not knowing ALL the facts and not being able to be objective.
The Torah commands each one BEFORE making a comment:
“וְדָרַשְׁתָּ וְחָקַרְתָּ וְשָׁאַלְתָּ הֵיטֵב וְהִנֵּה אֱמֶת נָכוֹן הַדָּבָר.”
“Then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly And if it is true and it has been proved…..” Deuteronomy ch. 13, v.14.
It takes tremendous scholarly research in conflicting opinions to come to the truthful conclusion. How many people have the ability to achieve that? In Judaism, study is paramount on a daily basis. There is no “vacation” from studies. Each of us has an obligation to challenge lies and deceit in order to have a more peaceful civilization.
As we approach the joyous holiday of Sukkot, let us make an effort to promote truth and may G-d bless society with the wonderful blessing that Jews recite Fridays and Holiday evenings:
“וּפְרֹשׂ עָלֵינוּ סֻכַּת שְׁלוֹמֶךָ”
“May it be Thy will to bless us with your Sukka of Peace. “
With blessings for a joyous holiday and a wonderful year,
Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz
National shomrim Chaplain