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FIRST DAY ROSH HASHONNA 1981

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FIRST DAY ROSH HASHONNA 1981

    FIRST DAY ROSH HASHONNA 1981

    Rabbi Joseph Radinsky

    Why do we mention Zecher LTsuyas Mitzroyeem on Rosh Hashonna? What does

    Rosh Hashonna. have to do with the Exodus of Egypt? Rosh Hashonna is not a historical holiday. Pesach celebrates the Exodus from Egypt. Shavuos celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. Succos celebrates the wandering of the Jewish people in the desert after the Exodus but Rosh Hashonna really celebrates no historical event. There is even an argument between Rabbi Yoshua and Rabbi Eliezer whether or not the world was created in Tishri or Nisan. Rabbi Yoshua says it was created in Nisan. We agree with Rabbi Eliezer who says it was created in Tishri but even if you would say that the world was created around this time it was only man who was created on the first of Tishri. If you believe the world was literally created in six days then the world would be created on the 24th of Elul, but if you believe as the Kabala does and modern science that the world is billions of years old then today does not celebrate the creation of the world. Jewish tradition generally believes that this is only the date of the creation of man as we know him. Why then do we mention remembering the Exodus from Egypt? Man is a divided creature. We are different than an animal. An animal does not cook its food. It does not wear clothes. It does not change its environment. It does not learn as we learn. It does not have curiosity. We are both part of this world and not part of this world. We are part animal but we are much more. We want to know whats going on. We want to understand

    ourselves and nature. We want to know how things work, how our body works. This, though, causes us to be terribly divided. The more we become an objective observer the more we must divorce ourselves from passion. Western culture especially has always vacillated between understanding and enjoying. If you understood something you could

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not enjoy it. We do not know how to fuse our emotions and intellect. Thats why

    university students who during the week are such objective observers divorce themselves from things they are studying on weekend and get drunk and go out on a bash. We either try to suppress all emotion and in effect dehumanize ourselves or divide ourselves from life, or we go to the other extreme and indulge in all sorts of passion in order to feel life. This can explain the rise of Nazism in such an intellectual country. The emotions were starved. We learn about this in the Torah portion we read today. We learn about Yishmoel and Yitzchak. At first glance it would seem that Yishmoel would be the more religious of the two. His name even means he listened to G-d while Yitzchak means

    laughter. Yishmoel was raised in Abrahams house. Abraham gave him much Torah,

    but he did not teach him how to integrate his emotions and his intellect. Sarah saw that he was Metzachaik which means sporting, indulging in passionate vices and she told Abraham to send him away. Abraham did not want to but G-d told him to listen to his wife. It says that Abraham gave him bread and water Mayim. Mayim in Hebrew always signifies Torah. He had given him the material things and Torah but an intellectual Torah. Yishmoel was still a Pereh Odom, a wild man. He had intellectual concepts but he could not integrate them in his life. It says that he then wandered in the Midbar, the desert. Midbar in Hebrew is really not a desert. It means an uncultivated area. Yishmoel tried to make his own way in the world, but he failed. He could not. He is referred to as a Yelled. A Yelled means a boy. How could we refer to him as a boy? He was 13 years old when Yitzchak was born. He must now be 18, 19, or 20, but emotionally he was a boy. He could not make it in the world and his mother could not stand to see him degenerate. How often do we see in our age today brilliant people who are hooked on drugs and alcohol? A

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    woman came to me a few weeks ago. Her son was a Phi Beta Kappa, a brilliant violinist but was in jail because he was selling drugs and was himself on drugs. Intellectual achievement is not enough. G-d appears to Haggar, Yishmoels mother, and says, Open

    your eyes and you will see a Ber Mayim, literally a well of water. G-d does not tell her

    to just seize, take Mayim, Torah, but Ber Mayim. Ber means a well in Hebrew. Ber

    also means to explain. Ber also stands for Brocha Or Rachameem. Torah is not enough. You must know how to integrate it into your personality. You must have Brocha. Brocha in Hebrew means not only to bless but also to greet, to thank, and to appreciate. We must have or, enthusiasm and you must have Rachamonas, a feeling of sympathy and empathy for people. This comes also through effort like digging a well. Torah is not enough if it is not integrated to our emotions. The intellect and the emotions must be fused. Emotions can be very dangerous. Thats why we are so much afraid of them. All the movies and

    plays try to extol living life to the hilt, but all the bars and taverns they extol are very dangerous places. Twenty-three people come to Ben Taub emergency room every night for shotgun wounds. Passions alone are no good. What we want on Rosh Hashonna is to live a life in which we have integrity, our emotions, and our intellect. This is one of the meanings of the Shofar, too. The Tekiah is a clear note, the note of the intellect. The Teruah and Shforeem are notes of emotion. We must learn how to fuse them. We cannot freeze out either of them. Thats, too, why we mention the Exodus from Egypt on Rosh

    Hashonna because the Egyptians symbolized passion gone wild. We Jews had intellectual ideas of freedom. We, too, did many things wrong. In the Exodus of Egypt we remember about the burning bush, a bush which burns and burns but is not consumed. We, too, should be like that burning bush. We should be filled with enthusiasm and fire but not

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    consume each other or ourselves. On this Rosh Hashonna we listen to the calls of the Shofar. Let us have a full life, a happy life, and a life in which our emotions and intellect are fused.

    SEPTEMBER 1981 -- ROSH HASHONNA

    Rabbi Joseph Radinsky

    Many times people tell me, Rabbi, I know that I was born Jewish, but really what

    difference does it make if I stay Jewish or not? As long as I am a good American what else is necessary? And in truth, it is hard to answer such a question especially if we believe that being a good Jew and being a good American are the same thing. We have for so long told ourselves that being a good Jew makes us a good American, that many people believe that the end all and be all of being a Jew is to be a good American. Obviously, there are many Christians who are very good Americans. You do not have to be a Jew to be a good American and if being a good Jew and being a good American are identical, why go through all the effort of staying Jewish? After all, George Washington was not a Jew, Abraham Lincoln was not a Jew, Thomas Jefferson was not a Jew, and yet they were very good Americans. The problem for the immigrant and first generation American Jew was, I am a Jew, how can I become an American? The problem for the

    present generation is, I am an American, why should I remain a Jew?

    It is true that there are many similarities between the American way and Judaism. America has a Torah. It is called the Constitution. It is a nation of law. It stresses deed over creed. It has a Supreme Court, a Sanhedrin. It emphasizes the individual over the state, and it even has pure food and drug laws, etc., just like Judaism. But still, Judaism and Americanism are not the same thing. Judaism has something more which the world and America stall needs. America is based upon a system of beliefs most of which are compatible and even based on Judaisms beliefs, for example, the belief in human

    equality. However, America has a creed, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which is questionable.

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    We can go along with the belief in life and liberty. It is the pursuit of happiness which gives us trouble. On Rosh Hashonna and Yom Kippur we pray for a Chayeem Toveem, a good life not a happy life. The reason for this being, there is no way to achieve a happy life directly. A happy life can only be the product of a good life. We believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of Mitzvahs.

    In the Torah portion, Ki Saytze, we learn about lifes challenges. When you will go out

    to battle on your enemies G-d will give him in your hand, The Rabbis all ask, enemies is

    plural but it says G-d will only give him in our hand? Him is singular. The Rabbis tell us that really we face two challenges in this world. One, the forces outside of ourselves with which we have to struggle in order to be successful and, two, the struggle within ourselves. We have to struggle to make a living. We have to struggle many times with our clients, our friends, community, bureaucracy, etc. However, even if we succeed in overcoming all these external forces we have still only won half the battle. We must always constantly struggle with the enemy within, with ourselves. Many times, it is possible to achieve all our goals, to be very successful but to have lost anyway, because in the process of achieving success, we have destroyed ourselves by destroying our humanity and by stooping to means which defile us.

    Man is composed of many conflicting drives and goals. Outward success alone will not satisfy us. Look at all the famous and rich people, especially entertainers, who have had everything but who have committed suicide. Each of us knows that there is more to life than the pursuit of happiness. Running, running, running doesnt make us happy it just

    make us tired and unhappy. We must all believe that we are important, that we are needed to be happy. Rosh Hashonna tells us that there is meaning in life. As the Psalmist said,

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    Happy are the people who know the Teruah, O Lord. They walk in the light of Thy faith. Blowing the shofar tells us that our cries from within are heard. Someone cares. Someone is concerned but, whats more, it also tells us that we also can listen to the cry from within ourselves and of others, that G-d has given us a task on this earth, that we can realize ourselves by hearing the call of the shofar by doing Mitzvahs. On Rosh Hashonna we blow the Teruah note and we read the Machulyas prayers which crown G-d as king. We say that G-d is autonomous, that G-d has integrity and dignity and the capacity to act, that G-d is adequate to all the challenges at hand. In Judaism, the greatest Commandment is to imitate G-d. We, too, must feel adequate to the tasks at hand. We can handle things. We can set goals and accomplish them. If we banish inhumanity, sin, we can draw close to G-d and accomplish great things. Knowing that we have this capacity gives us great joy, knowing that we are worthwhile. In spite of all the troubles that are symbolized by the Shofars tremulous Shevoreem note, we know that we can

    overcome. We know that we are accepted. G-d wants us and needs us. The Shofars

    staccato Teruah note was sounded on Mount Sinai. It is the note which proclaims to the world, you human beings are not vile, are not corrupt; you do not have to be evil. You can conquer your inner doubts and depression. Do Mitzvahs. Help Me by helping each other and you will have no problem with the inner enemy, yourselves.

    Life can be looked at from many vantage points. Some people choose to look at life as a stage where everybody struts and pretends. The problem with this view is that the inner life of man becomes hollow and he quickly becomes depressed and loses his inner battle. Others look at life as an athletic contest. This can only lead to cruelty and hate because there can only be one winner, and the losers quickly are looked upon by themselves and

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others with feelings of disgust and inferiority. Others compare life to a circus. Lets see

    how many freaks we can see. Lets be on a constant high. Lets constantly explore the

    outer limits and that leads to perversions and inhumanity because it exploits the weak and it, too, destroys the inner man.

    To Judaism, life is a book. Everything is written down. Everything counts. Nothing is lost. Each of us is given a blank page and we are told your contributions are necessary. You are important. Your help is required in order to eradicate hatred and inhumanity, poverty and disease. We are assured that if we concentrate on doing good we will have no problem with our inner life, and that G-d will help us overcome all our external challenges. Judaism has yet much to give the world. The world at large still does not have a Rosh Hashonna and Yom Kippur. The world at large is still confused about their conception of life, and until America changes its motto to life, liberty, and the pursuit of Mitzvahs, America will still need Jews. On behalf of Juliette, myself, and our family we wish you all a Fulfilling, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year which will be truly happy because it will be filled with Mitzvahs.

    FIRST DAY ROSH HASHONNA 1982

    Rabbi Joseph Radinsky

    Today is Shabbos. On Shabbos we do not blow the Shofar. Why should this be? Why shouldnt we blow the Shofar on Shabbos? On Pesach we still eat matzah on Shabbos. Shabbos does not push aside the matzah. On Succos we still eat in the Succah. Succos does not push aside the Succah. When we read the Torah we read the Torah portion for the holiday and not for Shabbos. Even when the Temple stood the Shofar was only blown in the Temple but not in Jerusalem or the rest of Israel on Shabbos. This is especially surprising when we read. the verse Happy are the people who know the Teruah, O Lord,

    they walk in the light of Thy favor. The Teruah is the sound that is vouchsafed just for

    the Jewish people. That is the sound of the Jewish people. No other people has the sound of the Teruah.

    The Tekiah is the sound of achievement. All nations achieve things. The Sheforim is the sound of troubles, of pain, of suffering. All peoples suffer. The Teruah, though, is a different kind of a sound. It is a staccato ta-ta-ta-ta sound. It is the sound of the hustle and bustle of doing Mitzvahs. Even the letters of the word Teruah stands for this. The first three letters of Teruah Tof Raysh Vahv stand for 606. Everybody in the world has seven commandments to perform, the seven commandments of Noah, but we Jews were given 606 more. The word Teruah ends with the letters Ayn and Hay, which can stand for Ezrasy Hashem with the help of G-d. With the help of G-d we are able to transform this world, to make it a better place, or these letters can stand for Alov Hasholom which means death. We can fail in one mission in this world and bring only death and destruction. Thats why the Rabbis say that here are many people who when they are dead are still living and many who when they are living who are dead.

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    There are many who do not hear the cries of others. They think only about themselves. They say that the world can never change for the better. There are many people who are so selfish. They have no compassion and are so hard to deal with. If we would not have to sometimes ask them for money it would be better to leave them alone. They do not hear the cry of the oppressed or the depressed. They are not listening to the cry of the Teruah. On Rosh Hashonna we are not commanded to blow the Teruah, but to hear it. Unfortunately, these people do not want to assume responsibility for anybody. It reminds me of the story of the fellow who went to a supposedly kosher hotel in Miami. He went to his room and noticed that there was no mezuzah. He went down to the clerk and said, Are you sure this hotel is kosher? The clerk said, Of course it is. He then asked him

    Where is the mezuzah on my door? and the clerk answered, Well, you do not

    understand. We have a master mezuzah on the roof, but friends, you know and I know

    that there is no such thing. We have to each put up our own mezuzah. We each have to listen to the Teruah. If the Teruah then is so important, why dont we blow it even when

    it is Shabbos?

    All right, do not blow the Tekiah, the note of achievement and do not blow the Sheforim, the note of pain and suffering, but blow the Teruah. The Torah mentions Shabbos twice in the Ten Commandments. In Deuteronomy it mentions Shemor, to observe the Sabbath. In Exodus it mentions Zochor, to remember it. In Exodus it says that we are to remember the Sabbath because we were slaves in Egypt. In Deuteronomy it says we observe it to remember G-d, the creator. We are to remember what the Sabbath is all about. The abbath is a little piece of the Garden of Eden the Rabbis say, a little piece of the world S

    to come. Shabbas is the goal we are all working for. We are supposed to remember it.

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