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.
Rachel-רחל – Our Matriarch
October 30, 2019
ירמיה פרק לא:
שִׁמְע֤וּ דְבַר־יְהוָה֙ גּוֹיִ֔ם וְהַגִּ֥ידוּ בָֽאִיִּ֖ים מִמֶּרְחָ֑ק וְאִמְר֗וּ מְזָרֵ֤ה יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ יְקַבְּצֶ֔נּו
ושְׁמָר֖וֹ כְּרֹעֶ֥ה עֶדְרֽוֹ׃ כִּֽי־פָדָ֥ה יְהוָ֖ה אֶֽת־יַעֲקֹ֑ב וּגְאָל֕וֹ מִיַּ֖ד חָזָ֥ק מִמֶּֽנּוּ׃ וּבָאוּ֮ וְרִנְּנ֣וּ בִמְרוֹם־צִיּוֹן֒ וְנָֽהֲר֞וּ אֶל־ט֣וּב יְהוָ֗ה עַל־דָּגָן֙ וְעַל־תִּירֹ֣שׁ וְעַל־יִצְהָ֔ר וְעַל־בְּנֵי־צֹ֖אן וּבָקָ֑ר וְהָֽיְתָ֤ה נַפְשָׁם֙ כְּגַ֣ן רָוֶ֔ה וְלֹֽא־יוֹסִ֥יפוּ לְדַֽאֲבָ֖ה עֽוֹד אָמַ֣ר יְהוָ֗ה ק֣וֹל בְּרָמָ֤ה נִשְׁמָע֙ נְהִי֙ בְּכִ֣י תַמְרוּרִ֔ים רָחֵ֖ל מְבַכָּ֣ה עַל־בָּנֶ֑יהָ מֵֽאֲנָ֛ה לְהִנָּחֵ֥ם עַל־בָּנֶ֖יהָ כִּ֥י אֵינֶֽנּוּ׃ כֹּ֣ה אָמַ֣ר יְהוָ֗ה מִנְעִ֤י קוֹלֵךְ֙ מִבֶּ֔כִי וְעֵינַ֖יִךְ מִדִּמְעָ֑ה כִּי֩ יֵ֨שׁ שָׂכָ֤ר לִפְעֻלָּתֵךְ֙ נְאֻם־יְהוָ֔ה וְשָׁ֖בוּ מֵאֶ֥רֶץ אוֹיֵֽב׃ וְיֵשׁ־תִּקְוָ֥ה לְאַֽחֲרִיתֵ֖ךְ
ושָׁ֥בוּ בָנִ֖ים לִגְבוּלָֽם
Jeremaiah chapter 31:
“Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.
For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.
Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; RACHEL weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they wereTAKEN FROM their homeland, Israel
Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy efforts shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.
And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.”
The month of Cheshvan-חשון is referred to as Mar (bitter) Cheshvan-מר חשון because following all the Jewish Holidays in the previous month of Tishrei- תשרי, there isn’t a single holiday to celebrate. Thus we are somewhat bitter and have the “blues.”
However on the 11th Hebrew day of this month is the Yarzeit of our Matriarch Rachel. Rachel, was the beloved wife of our Patriarch Jacob, and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. She died while giving birth to Benjamin and was buried in Bethlehem-בית לחם, future birth place of King David. It was here that the First Exile took place some 2,600 years ago. As the suffering Jewish people were passing Rachel’s Tomb, she was crying for her children and refused to be comforted until their return to their homeland
During the miraculous Six Days War in 1967, Bethlehem and all the lands of Judea and Samaria were liberated by the Israel Defense Forces. Our generation is witnessing the words in the Book of Jeremiah, a witness to the First Exile and destruction of the First Temple, come alive. The children of Israel have and are continuing to return home from all over the world. Mother Rachel’s prayers are being answered.
Let’s continue to pray for peace and raising our children in times of peace.
Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz
National shomrim Chaplain