"For You are HaShem, our G-d, Who makes the wind blow and brings down the rain."
(from the Shmini Atzeret prayer for rain)Tishrei 18, 5770/October 7, 2009
Tishrei, the month of the creation of the universe, is also a month of holy days. Beginning with Rosh HaShana on the first of Tishrei and concluding with Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah on the twenty second day of the month, Tishrei presents us with an annual spiritual ascent, both enabling us to draw necessary conclusions concerning the past year, and to ready ourselves for the upcoming year. How does it work?
From the hearing of the shofar on Rosh HaShana through the ten days of repentance and return leading to Yom Kippur where we stand before G-d, our King, our Judge and our Father, we are involved in a reckoning and confrontation with ourselves, in the presence of G-d. We've got to come clean, we've got to get it right, we've got to return to our own pure source, and G-d won't let us go through this process and conclude the Yom Kippur dialogue until we do. Completing this ten day period of intensive soul-searching necessarily involves spiritual growth and maturity. Like our father Yaakov who wrestled with an angel, (Genesis 32:25-29), we, too, emerge victorious from our confrontation.
We then enter a four day period leading to the seven day festival of Sukkot. Our efforts shift from being intensely introspective and spiritual to being intensely physical and materialistic: We acquire our arba minim, the palm frond, myrtle, willow and citroen, as we are commanded to do by Torah, and we construct our temporary dwellings - sukkot - also as we are commanded by Torah. And then, as the Sukkot holiday enters, we enter our sukkot, and perform the one commandment required of us: We sit and we eat in our sukkot. From standing in judgment and trepidation in the palace of the King, we have now become kings in our own palace.
As kings we are empowered to decree and to proclaim, and through our prayers on Sukkot this is precisely what we do. And what do we pray for over the seven days of Sukkot, climaxing on the final day of Sukkot, known also as Hoshana Rabba? We pray for rain in the world! For this is what we need to sustain our world, the world that through our prayer and supplication, our repentance and our return, we have merited for one more year to shepherd toward recognition of G-d's presence, toward knowledge of Him in all creation. On Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, the holiday which immediately follows the conclusion of Sukkot, we begin to mention the rains in our thrice-daily prayers, "Who makes the wind blow and brings down the rain." The Hebrew phrase "mashiv haruach umorid hageshem" can also be translated and understood as "Who revives the spirit and subdues the physical."
Creation has begun anew. With fortified spirits we venture forth once again into the world. By conducting ourselves in G-d's world according to His will, we fill the world with purpose, lifting it up in our service to Him. May we be blessed in the upcoming year with rain from the heavens, and with love and determination in our hearts may we merit to greet the day of which the prophet Zechariah speaks: "HaShem will be King over all the world - on that day HaShem will be One and His name will be One." (Zechariah 14:9)
This week features the new Light to the Nations teaching by Rabbi Chaim Richman, entitled, "Joy and Prophecy in the Sukkah: sukkot is a time for family and friends to gather for festive meals, song and Torah teachings inside the the spiritually charged environment of the sukkah. The joy of the closeness to G-d which permeates the Sukkot experience, was, in the time of the Holy Temple, also a public inspiration of prophecy. Join Rabbi Chaim Richman with his family and friends as he presents an unforgettable teaching in his Jerusalem sukkah." Click here to view.
If you still haven't see last weeks Light to the Nations special presentation entitled, "The 5770 Sukkah Building Special," in which Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven build their sukkah, then please do so now. You won't want to miss it!
This 28 minute Light to the Nations teaching can be viewed in full on UniversalTorah.com, or in three parts, (high quality) on youTube.com.
V'Zot Habracha: It's the final Torah reading of the year. We read it on Simchat Torah just before we begin our Torah reading cycle all over again with the reading of Beresheit (Genesis 1:1 - 6:8). So, you ask, how does Torah end? Stay tuned next week when we read Beresheit, because the end is in the beginning and the beginning is in the end, and what G-d requires most from us is simply the heart. Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat V'Zot Habracha (Deuteronomy 33:1 - 34:12).
Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven have been much too busy sitting in their respective sukkot to be able to record Temple Talk this week, but next week, (October 13th), G-d willing, Temple Talk will be broadcast at its usual time. Be sure to join us!
Chag Sameach - a joy filled holiday - from the holy city of Jerusalem,
THE TEMPLE INSTITUTE
PO Box 31876
Jerusalem, Israel 97500