Rejuvenating Our Bond

27 09 2011

Based on a shiur by Rabbi Moshe Weinberger

Rejuvevating Our Bond The first Rosh Hashana at the beginning of creation was different than all future Rosh Hashanas. The presence of Hashem descended upon Adam without any effort. It wasn’t a matter of avoda, working to achieve an awareness of Him. Rather it was a complete itaruta dl’eleh, an arousal from above.

In the Rosh Hashana davening we say, “Zikaron l’yom rishon, a remembrance of the first day.” In order to reveal Hashem’s kingship upon us we must remember the brit. The brit is the immutable bond between Hashem and the Jewish people that can never be obliterated. This requires effort, an itaruta dl’tata, an awakening from below. This awakening is accomplished through the shofar. The shofar is an aspect of the highest teshuva. It is like a cry, a yearning from the depths of the heart, something very profound and powerful and impossible to contain in words.

The sages divided the service of Rosh Hashana into three parts: Malchiyot, Zichronot, and Shofrot. These are not three independent aspects but one unit with interdependent parts. Why does the memory of the brit depend on the shofar? Rosh Hashana is the beginning. On that day Adam was created and he accepted malchut Hashem (kingship). When we say, “Zikaron l’yom rishon” we connect once again to the memory of the beginning of the revelation of Hashem. The Rambam says the avoda of teshuva is shofar. It signals to us, “Uru yesheinim mishnaschem! Awaken from your sleep, you slumberers!” The brit, the covenant between Hashem and knesset Yisrael is hovering above us waiting to be rejuvenated once again.

The Zohar teaches that there are two levels of repentance, a lower teshuva and a higher teshuva. The lower teshuva is meant to return the soul to its state of purity before sin. The higher teshuva leads the soul back to the level of d’veikut, attachment to Hashem that it had before it became connected to the body. Shofar is an aspect of this highest teshuva. It is the return of the soul to the root of its existence. It could be that the Baal Hatanya uses the term teshuva ilohe to mean a higher level of teshuva where the person is so deeply affected by his distance from Hashem that it touches the deepest point of his heart and he is overcome by uncontrolled weeping and brokenness.

The Rebbe Maharash retold a parable from the Baal Shem Tov about a king who sent his son away to a faraway land to learn the ways of the world. After many years the prince returned to his father’s kingdom, bereft of everything he had and clad in tattered clothing. When he arrived, the people did not recognize him. They taunted him and beat him until he reached the palace courtyard and a cry of pain escaped from deep inside of him. The king recognized his son’s voice and ran out to embrace him. Similarly, Hashem decreed that the soul should descend into the world, to attain its reward. Lost in the maelstrom of physicality it moves far away and forgets that it was once connected to Hashem. The voice of the shofar, the cry from the depths of the heart, contains all the regrets and past mistakes of the soul. It expresses the profound pain of the Jewish people and how we have distanced ourselves and yearn to return. The call of the shofar, awakens Hashem’s love for us and we too are aroused to come back once again to His warm embrace.

Insights of the Chassidic Masters-Seeking Hashem #9

4 09 2011

Based on a shiur by Rabbi Moshe Weinberger   

Seeking G-d

In his essay, “Atem Nitzovim,” the Baal HaTanya writes about connecting to Hashem through penimiyut halev-the innermost depths of the heart.

The process begins by awaking the chitzoniyut halev-the outer heart. This is accomplished through daat (knowledge) and hitbonnenut– meditating on the greatness of Hashem. Thinking about how Hashem created everything and brought the world into being from nothing and how He renews our existence at every moment, should arouse us.

Concentrating on these truth further, brings to ze’akat halev- a cry from the heart, which is compared to the roar of a lion. This comes forth from the outer point of the heart because in the vision of the heavenly chariot in Yechezkel, the lion is on the right side of the camp of Michael. It is an expression of our great love for Hashem, our tremendous desire to negate ourselves in the light of Him, and the will to sense that chiyut Elokut (the Divine spark), although only external.

What is the difference between chitzoniyut (externality) and penimimyut (internality) in the spiritual sense? Similar to physical reality, only the outside is visible while the inside is hidden.  It is compared to a great sage learning with a young child whose comprehension is still limited. The sage will teach the child the superficial aspect of the truth, rather than the deep ideas contained in his heart. Similarly, we cannot grasp Hashem’s presence and thoughts. It’s only the external aspects that are somewhat accessible. His penimiyut ha’or, His Infinite Light, which transcends the boundaries of creation, is hidden, much like the penimiyut of the teacher’s mind. If so, how can a Jew cry out to Hashem from penimiyut halev which is higher than anything that can be clothed in words?

Hashem’s name is exalted above and beyond what a human mind can comprehend, “Ani Hashem lo shanisi” (I am Hashem, unchanged). The same way He was before creation, He is afterwards. His penimiyut hasn’t diminished in any way.  Where Hashem’s essence isn’t enclosed in chitzoniyut nothing has changed. Hashem is like an eish ochla-a consuming flame. By nature, fire is the opposite of water which flows down. Fire rises up and doesn’t spread out to the lower world. This refers to the penimiyut ha’or-the Inner Light of Hashem which we can’t experience. When Hashem’s Infinite Light reaches down to give life and light to our world, it’s a tremendous descent from a very high place. Just as the rebbe must constrict his knowledge to connect to the mind of the child, there are many veils that conceal the revelation of Hashem’s light so that the world can continue to exist.

Hashem displays extraordinary kindness when He descends to us in the way of flowing water that comes down from above as chitzoniyut ha’or. He listens to us despite the fact that He’s Kel Elyon- higher and exalted than anything we can imagine. This awareness should shake a person to the core so that a cry escapes from the depths of his soul, l’mala min hadaat-higher than anything he can understand himself. This cry from his penimiyut halev which can never be separated from Hashem. It is like burning coal, like a flame that rises higher on its own.

Hashem relates to the world in two ways: He is memaleh– fills all worlds and m’sovev-surrounds all worlds, but His Essence remains above, unchanged. When a person is aware of this reality, believes it, and meditates on the idea that there is nothing other than Hashem, it creates within Him a great love and longing in the depths of his heart to become one with the Creator; to the point that He feels nothing of himself and disappears into the infinite reality of Hashem. In such a state, a person is capable of giving up his life for the sake of His Name. This great love is called the outpouring of the soul and is not constrained to anything the mind can comprehend. It’s a deveikut penimiyut which awakens from the inner essence of the heart and can never be extinguished.

Insights of the Chassidic Masters: Standing Before G-d

5 09 2010

Based on a shiur by Rabbi Moshe Weinberger

Chassidic Masters

The Baal Hatanya, in his introduction to his essay, “Atem Nitzavim” explains the Torah’s ambiguity about Rosh Hashana. He writes that Rosh Hashana is the day we were created. It is the beginning of man’s existence. Therefore, Hashem wanted us to strain to understand it, to uncover the starting point within each of us, to remember the struggle and to recapture the magic of this very pivotal moment. This is compared to a couple remembering their wedding, and to parents recalling the birth of their first child.

When we study the Torah, mussar, chassidut, or halachot relating to a particular holiday, it is critical to understand its central core.  All learning and prayer connected to a particular holiday shines forth from this point. The Torah does not specify the theme of Rosh Hashana, but Chazal tell us that “Hamelech” sums up the essence of the day. In fact, old Chabad chassidim would call Rosh Hashana the “Day of Coronation,” for on this yom tov we crown Hashem as king over us.

The Gemara writes, “On Rosh Hashana, Hashem tells us, ‘Say before me these prayers: Malchiyot, so you will accept my kingship, Zichronot, so that I will remember you in a good way. How does one accomplish this? With the shofar. From this passage we understand that the essential theme of Rosh Hashana is accepting Hashem’s kingship, and the shofar is the means to attain this. Additionally, if we examine the prayers of Rosh Hashana, we will find that they revolve around the theme of kingship. The writings of Chassidut explain that our mission on Rosh Hashana is to reconstruct the malchut of Hashem by making ourselves worthy of crowning Him.

Rav Sadya Gaon lists several reasons why we blow shofar, but the inner meaning of the shofar is kingship and coronation. We verbalize and actualize our acceptance of Hashem’s kingship through the shofar.

In Tehilim, King David writes, “Bakshu fanei, es panecha avakesh.” Hashem says, “Seek my face.” Panei is related to penimiyut. Our avoda on Rosh Hashana is to reveal the deep inner connection between our soul and the essence of Hashem. For a person to say “Hamelech” on Rosh Hashana and ignore the King is not only absurd but dangerous. If Hashem is really our King what kind of effect has He had on our life? Accepting the yoke of Hashem’s kingship as a means to fulfill one’s responsibilities as a Jew is a very important outgrowth of Rosh Hashana but it is not the core. The essence is making Hashem a part of life during the year; knowing what “melech haolam” means when we say a bracha and developing a real connection with malchut Hashem. This will all depend on how we crowned the King on His coronation day. The call of the shofar jolts us awake and the prayers of Rosh Hashana helps us realize that nothing rules over us except Hashem.  Our “Hamelech” is not Wall St, Elvis Presley, our boss, or our physical desires.   We answer to a Higher Authority.   By tapping into the power of “melech” in everything we do, we will become stronger more dedicated servants of Hashem.

Rav Moshe Weinberger & Rebbetzin Heller Answer Your Questions! Deadline Fast Approaching

5 09 2008

In response to your requests, will be filming its next Question and Answer video classes entitled Achieving Balance: G-d, Family, and Work! Rabbi Moshe Weinberger of Aish Kodesh in Woodmere will be answering questions relating to the unique challenges faced by today’s Jewish men, while Rebbetzin Heller, in a separate shiur, will answer questions relating to the challenges of contemporary women. Please email questions on balancing the different aspects of your life to by Sunday September 7th at 5 PM EST. We hope you will take advantage of this amazing opportunity!

Our Elul Zman is in full swing! Click on the images or links below to watch our newest classes. For other Naaleh classes and topics visit

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