Wednesday, September 28, 2011

last minute dvar Torah for the table tonight

I just heard a nice dvar Torah from a friend and thought I would quickly post it before Rosh Hashana.

Why do we eat apples and honey on Rosh Hashana?

The Maharil says it reminds of of a midrash that says that when Yaakov disguised himself as his brother Esav and stood before his father Yitzchak, Yitzchak smelled Yaakov and the midrash says that Yaakov smelled like an apple orchard.

Why an apple orchard?  that is a subject for a future blog post maybe.  But the maharil says that on Rosh Hashana we want to remember that episode in Jewish history because it should conger up a certain mood.

Yaakov was very nervous when he stood before his father.  His purpose was to show his father that he was worthy of a brachah.  He feared that his father would examine him carefully and would discover that the clothes that he donned for the occasion was just a disguise but in reality he was a different person.

This is us on Rosh Hashana.  We are standing before our Father in Heaven.  Before we do we have to carefully examine ourselves.  We must be sure that the appearance that we present on Rosh Hashana is not a disguise, rather it is the standard of conduct that we set for ourselves for the rest of the year.

I have my own idea for the honey.
Honey comes from bees which are not kosher and honey, it would seem should be treif.  Yet for some reason it is kosher.  So honey is a plea that even if we do not meet the standard and perhaps we should be marked treif, Hashem should view us as if we are kosher and inscribe us all in the book of life.

Rosh Hashana 5772

Rosh Hashanah is unique to Jewish holidays in that its history extends back to before we were a people. Pesach, Sukkot, Shavuot, and Yom Kippur all commemorate events that happened at or around the Exodus from Egypt.
Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of Adam.
It is certainly reasonable to believe that Rosh Hashanah was a holiday long before there were Jews to celebrate it.
The day was probably observed by the people who lived in the time of Adam. No doubt the tradition around this holiday made its way to Noach. And when Noach boarded the ark, in addition to the animals he also brought with him the traditions that he learned from Metushelach and the other elders who lived before the flood.
After the flood Noach's family continued to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and passed it down to their children. Eventually this tradition was passed down to Avraham who passed it onto his children who took the tradition down to Egypt. When the Torah was given, this day was included as one of the holidays.
The observance of Rosh Hashanah testifies that all men were created equal by God. Therefore the tyrants and despots of each generation sought to obscure this tradition as they usually predicated their power on a claim that they were divine and therefore superior to other men.
When Avraham celebrated Rosh Hashanah it was a direct affront to Nimrod who claimed to be a God in order to rule over others.
When our ancestors celebrated Rosh Hashanah under Egyptian slavery it was an act of defiance against Pharaoh who claimed to be God in order to enslave others.
When the Jews during the Holocaust celebrated Rosh Hashanah it was an act of defiance against the Nazis who claimed there is no God in order to exterminate a people.

In addition to being a day of prayer, the observance of Rosh Hashanah makes an ideological declaration that all men were created by God in the image of God and no man or group can claim innate superiority over another that gives them the right to rule, enslave or murder.
Rosh Hashanah also reminds us that we are all children of Adam and Chava and therefore all part of one family.
May the observance of Rosh Hashanah send a message of peace, brotherhood, and love to the world and may we all be inscribed in the book of life.