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Wednesday
Sep132017

SEVENTH MONTH; SEVENTH GENERATION

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

This Shabbos (Nitzavim-VaYeilech, 25 Elul) is Shabbos Mevarchim Chodesh Tishrei. While the minhag Chabad is to say T’hillim and have a farbrengen on this Shabbos as we do every Shabbos Mevarchim, we will not say the “Birchas HaChodesh” in davening.

There are a few reasons given for this minhag (see Encyclopedia Talmudis vol. 4 pg. 453):

Because the pasuk in T’hillim (81:4) says: “Sound the shofar on the New Moon, on the appointed time, בכסה, for the day of our festival.” The literal translation of the word “בכסה” means hidden. This implies that the time of Rosh HaShana, when you “sound the shofar,” should remain hidden.

The reason why the chachomim instituted the concept of publicly announcing the date of Rosh Chodesh in Shul was so that people should know when Rosh Chodesh is. Being that everyone knows when Rosh HaShana is, a reminder is not necessary on the Shabbos before.

Being that the first day of Tishrei is Rosh HaShana, it is not considered a regular Rosh Chodesh.

This is a tactic by which we bewilder Satan. When Satan sees that we do not bless the upcoming month of Tishrei, he assumes that he must have miscalculated the calendar dates, with Rosh Hashanah not starting until after the following Shabbos. Hopefully he then misses the court date set for the 1st of Tishrei, and we are thus rid of the prosecuting angel.

We always bless the new month on the Shabbos preceding Rosh Chodesh, because Shabbos is the wellspring of blessing for the entire week. Thus, the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh bestows its blessing on the upcoming month. Rosh Hashanah is in a different category; it calls to mind the beginning of Creation, as we say in Musaf, “Today is the birthday of the world” — it is the first moment in time, with nothing preceding it. Before Creation, the concepts of time and Shabbos did not exist. Hashem’s glory filled all of existence. Hashem was One and His name was One. That’s why we do not bless Rosh Chodesh on the Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah.

In the “Kovetz T’hillim,” printed in the back of the T’hillim “Ohel Yosef Yitzchak” (pg. 193), the Frierdike Rebbe describes a story that took place in a small town near Lubavitch in the year 5658, and which adds a sixth reason to not making the Birchas HaChodesh this coming Shabbos:

During the Shabbos meal of Shabbos Nitzavim-VaYeilech, my father (the Rebbe Rashab), said a long Sicha. In that sicha he recounted the following story:

When I was a child, I asked my father the Rebbe Maharash, that being that we bless all the months of the year, why do we not bless the month of Tishrei? The Rebbe Maharash answered: When I was a child, I asked the same question from my father the Rebbe the Tzemach Tzedek and he told me that he asked the same question from his grandfather, the Alter Rebbe.

The Alter Rebbe answered (HaYom Yom 25 Elul): When I was in Mezritch, I heard the following teaching from my revered master, the Maggid, in the name of his revered master, the Baal Shem Tov.

The seventh month [which is Tishrei] is the first of the months of the year. The Holy One Himself blesses it on Shabbos Mevarchim, the last Shabbos of the month of Elul. And with the power of this [blessing], the Jewish people bless the months eleven times in the year.

[This week’s Torah reading begins:] Atem nitzavim HaYom — “You are standing firm today.” The word “today” alludes here to Rosh Hashanah, which is the Day of Judgment, for the phrase, “The day came,” is rendered by the Targum with the words, “the day of great judgment came.” [And it is concerning this day that the Torah tells us:] “You are standing firm”; that is, you are vindicated in judgment.

On the Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah, which is the last Shabbos of the month of Elul, we read the parsha that begins with the words, Atem nitzavim. This [reading constitutes] the blessing that G‑d gives on the Shabbos that blesses the seventh month, the month that is satiated and that satiates the entire Jewish people with abundant bounty for the entire year.

[An important lesson we can learn from this HaYom Yom: Right before this quote of the Alter Rebbe, the Rebbe writes: “When the parshiyos Nitzavim and VaYeilech are read on separate weeks, both the Maftir and the shvii reading of Parshas Nitzavim begin with ‘R’ei nasati lefanecha.’ Seemingly, this instruction is not relevant to the HaYom Yom written for 5703, when the two parshiyos were together? We see from here that the Rebbe expected us to be looking at the HaYom Yom in the following years as well.]

This HaYom Yom reminds us, that just as Hashem gives special blessings to the seventh month of the year (Tishrei), so too there are special Brachos and kochos given to us, Dor HaShvii, the seventh generation, as “All sevenths are beloved.”

Let us remind ourselves of the words of the Rebbe (Basi L’Gani 5711) that he said right at the beginning of his official acceptance of the leadership of our generation:

The fact that our Sages say that “all those who are seventh are cherished” rather than “all those who are cherished are seventh,” indicates that the seventh’s primary quality lies in his being seventh. In other words, he is cherished not on account of his choice, desire, or spiritual service, but because he is seventh — and this is something that he is born into. Yet, the fact remains that “all those who are seventh are cherished.” It was for this reason that it was Moshe who was privileged to have the Torah given through him.

…. It is true that the seventh of a series is very much loved and that this status comes not as a result of choice nor as a result of one’s Divine service, but as a finished product, merely as a result of birth. Nevertheless, there are no inherent limitations that should cause an individual to say that this status is beyond him and that it is accessible only to a select few. On the contrary, this is a situation similar to that which is explained in Tanna d’vei Eliyahu (chs. 9 and 25) and quoted in Chassidus, that every Jew, even a slave or handmaiden, can attain the inspiration of the Divine Spirit. [Similarly,] each and every Jew is obligated to say, “When will my actions equal those of my forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov?”

At the same time we should not delude ourselves: we must know that we should “not stand in the place of the greats,” and that the merit of the seventh of a series consists of his being seventh to the first, i.e., he is capable of doing the Divine service and fulfilling the mission of the first…

This, then, is why the seventh is so cherished: it is he who draws down the Sh’china, in fact — the essence of the Sh’china; moreover, he draws it down into this lowly world.

Dear Chassidim:

We are still in the year of 5777, a chazaka of the number seven, and although we are intensively preparing for Rosh HaShana, we “await your coming every part of every day!” We must demand from Hashem (in the words of the Rebbe, Chayei Sara 5752):

“Further and fundamental: since the work of shlichus has already ended, every Shliach needs to approach the true M’shaleiach, G-d, and declare: I have done my shlichus and now the time has come that You, as it were, should do Your shlichus…

“And even if there is only a doubt that G-d will restrain the Jews in exile even a minute for the great pleasure and satisfaction that the Divine service in exile creates for Him, a Jew cries: ‘all that the master of the house tells you, do, except to leave.’ All that the master of the house – this is G-d – says, one must do ‘except to leave.’ One must not remain even a minute, G-d forbid, in a situation of ‘leaving,’ the table of their father. One begs and demands, as it were, of G-d: ‘send now the one You will send’ – in the beginning of the year ‘by whom You will send’ and bring already the true and complete Redemption!”

 

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com

 

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