Friday, October 30, 2009

Strings and Straps

When Avraham Avinu flatly refuses any of the spoils of war offered him by the king of Sedom - he states - "I will take not a string nor a shoe strap".
Chazal comment that this action earned Avraham's descendants the string of techeles and the straps of teffilin.
Avraham Avinu was a paragon of Chessed - and as a direct result, we - his children - are tremendously inclined towards kindness ( so much so that a lack in this regard calls one's Jewish roots into question ). However we may along the way need reminders to stave off the ever present human selfishness that screams in our hearts - "what's in it for me?!".
So Hashem gives us two mitzvos that are referred to as signs or memory aides. The strings of techeles ( "... and you shall see them and you shall remember all the mitzvos of Hashem ...") and the straps of teffilin ("... and it will be a sign against your heart ...").

So next time we feel the ever present pull of greed - remember - we're above that - we are the children of Avraham. Besides - both Mitzvos represent ways to bind yourself to Hashem - would you really want some petty materialistic thing to get in the way ?

Hatzlacha !!

Friday, October 02, 2009

In The Shade Of The One Above

The Vilna Gaon discusses the particular appropriateness of the date we celebrate Sukkos by calculating when the Divine Presence ( Shechina ), and with it the Clouds Of Glory ( Annanei HaKavod ), returned to the Israelites after the Sin of the Golden Calf.

The final and complete atonement for the grievous breach was received on Yom Kippur ( thus setting the stage for Yom Kippur to be a day of atonement for all time ). Following that – the Israelites were commanded to build a tabernacle so that they would have a constant reminder of Hashem's presence in their midst ( and would not feel the temptation to create foreign representations of divinity ). The building drive took two days – and on the third day of the drive the Jews were told to stop bringing gold and other materials – there is a sufficient amount. (See Shemos 36:3-7).

So, on the 11th of Tishrei the mishkan project was unveiled. On the 12th and 13th the building drive took place. On the 14th, the Jews were told that no further materials were needed. And on the 15th, the mishkan began to be constructed – thus returning the shechina to Israel.

Therefore, on the 15th of Tishrei we sit in Sukkos in order to recreate the divine presence that was felt in the desert.

May we merit, this year, to truly rest beneath the holy shechina in our sukkos and may we see the coming redemption, speedily and in our days, amen.

Hatzlacha !!