VOLUME 19 NUMBER 2 SEPTEBER 18, 2020 29 ELUL 5780
UPCOMING Rosh Hashana By: Rabbi Landsman
There is an age old practice mentioned by Chazal to eat certain foods on the night
Candle Lighting of Rosh Hashanah. These are known as simanim - signs that we pray will symbolize a good
September 18: 6:40 year. Short tefillot accompany the simanim and the poskim comment that the intent and
thoughts of teshuva that occur at this time can help make the simanim a reality. Perhaps
Candle Lighting the most popular of the simanim is the custom to partake of an apple dipped in honey. At
September 19: 7:38 this time, we fervently beseech Hashem for a shana tova u'metukah, a good and sweet year.
By analyzing what this dual request of "good and sweet" represents, we can gain a greater
Havdallah: 7:36 appreciation of what to concentrate our thoughts on at this opportune moment.
Friday, September 18 Rabbi Tzvi Sobolofsky, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva University explains that the
Erev Rosh Hashana Rabbis teach us that when events occur that are especially good, we are required to recite
the bracha of Hatov V'hameitiv - Hashem is good, and does good. There is
No Sessions another bracha that is recited when something bad happens, the bracha of Dayan
Saturday and Sunday Ha'Emet - Hashem is the true judge. These different berachot are only recited in this
world; in the world to come, only the bracha on good will be recited. The future is described
September 19-20 as a day that is only good. Creation was originally supposed to be this way. When Hashem
Rosh Hashana began the creation of the world with the creation of light, the Torah tells us that the light
was good. Unfortunately for us, this light could not be retained in this world and Hashem
Monday, September 21 hid it away for the righteous for days to come. When we ask Hashem for a shana tova, we
Tzom Gedaliah are not just asking for good things in this world. We are elevating our thoughts by
1:30 PM Dismissal beseeching Hashem for a world that is all good. We are dreaming about a world in which the
Grades N-8 original light of Creation of Hashem's presence is discernible.
Sunday, September 27 In addition to a good year, we also ask for a sweet one. The words of Torah are
Erev Yom Kippur compared to gold and honey. "More precious than gold and sweeter than honey" is
Dovid HaMelech's description of Hashem's words. What is the significance of comparing
Monday, September 28 the Torah to honey if it is already comparable to gold? Isn't gold obviously more valuable
Yom Kippur than honey? Rabbi Sobolofsky explains that gold and honey are fundamentally different
Yizkor from one another. Although gold is more valuable, it is only significant because of what it
No Sessions can purchase. It does not provide actual pleasure, but rather it enables one to purchase
worldly pleasures. Honey, although not particularly expensive, is intrinsically enjoyable. The
words of Torah are compared to both gold and honey. Torah is like spiritual gold in that the
acquisition of Torah knowledge enables one to better perform Mitzvot, and Torah study
helps perfect a person's character traits. Like gold, it is valuable for what it can
accomplish. However, Torah is also much more than spiritual gold, because the words of
Torah are sweeter than honey. Even without any other advantages gained by Torah study,
learning Torah is the sweetest gift Hashem has given us. It is both more precious than gold
and simultaneously sweeter than honey.
The Ohr HaChaim has a remarkable comment wherein he describes how we would
react to the goodness and sweetness of Torah if we truly appreciated it to the fullest. We
would be so overwhelmed by the sweet taste of Torah that we wouldn't be able to pursue
anything else. As we dip our apple in our honey on Rosh Hashanah, we should be focusing on
the lofty dreams of having a good and sweet year. We beseech Hashem to see His light and
taste His Torah.
May this year be a year of only goodness and sweetness for all of Klal Yisroel.
Shana Tova U’Metuka!
YCQ Gets Musical
YCQ got off to a great start last week as faculty and students returned to
the physical building for the first time in six months. As a special surprise
on Friday in honor of Shabbat, Rabbi Ribalt, Judaic Studies elementary
school assistant principal, visited the classrooms along with some very
special guest. Two members of
Rabbi Ribalt’s former acappella
group, and current members of
Y-Studs, joined Rabbi Ribalt in
each class in the elementary
school and entertained the
students with some favorite songs.
It was an amazing way to end our
first week and a special way to go
YCQ Parent-Child Selichot Program
On Motz’ai Shabbat, many of our YCQ students in grades five through eight, along
with their parents and Rebbeim joined together for a meaningful selichot program in
the YCQ yard. The evening began with beautiful words of chizuk by Rabbi Shmuel
Marcus, Rav of Young Israel of Queens Valley. Rabbi Marcus was extremely
invigorating and enlightening. The evening concluded with an uplifting recitation of
Selichot led by Rabbi Hamel. It was a most inspiring evening.
A Special YCQ ALUMNI Event
and the Yomim Noraiim
Featured Speakers Tuesday Evening 8pm
September 22, 2020
Rabbi Mark Landsman
Rabbi Yaakov Finkelstein Zoom Meeting ID:
JHS Rebbe 605 903 562
Mrs. Alyssa Schussheim
Morah for JHS Tanach
Presented by the YCQ Alumni Association
Randi Beeber-Luxenberg ‘73
Michael Schussheim ‘72
Followed by a Question and Answer Session
sWE THANK THIS WEEK’S SPONSOR
MONDAY, 25 ELUL
AVIGDOR GLASER Z”L
יחיאל אברהם אביגדור ז“ל בן ר‘ אליהו נ“י
IN MEMORY OF
BETTY WEIN A"H
GRANDMOTHER OF YCQ GRADUATES
PENINA ('06)), AVRAHAM ('08), SHIRA ('11), TALIA ('15), AND MICHAEL WEIN ('18)
THE WEIN FAMILY
WEDNESDAY, 27 ELUL
ON THE FIFTH YAHRZEIT OF
OUR DAUGHTER-IN-LAW REBECCA
JAY AND JENNIFER JAFFE
CEREMONY & בס"ד
WITH RABBI LORD JONATHAN SACKS
ROSH HASHANAH 5781
Rosh Hashanah in a Nutshell
THE TEN DAYS that begin on Rosh Hashanah • Who am I? Points to
and end with Yom Kippur are the holy of holies • Why am I here? Ponder
of Jewish time. On the Yamim Noraim, the • How shall I live?
Days of Awe, we can almost feel God’s presence • How have I lived until now? 1Aren’t these ques-
and sense His closeness. For although we know • How have I used God’s greatest gift: time? tions we should ask
that God is always close to us, we do not always • Whom have I wronged, and how can I put ourselves every day?
feel close to Him. He is always to be found, but Why especially now
we do not always seek Him out. The atmos- it right? on Rosh Hashanah?
phere in the synagogue is intense and serious. • Where have I failed, and how shall I over-
Yet this year, as a result of the coronavirus 2Does the recog-
pandemic, many of us will be prevented from come my failures? nition that life is
experiencing this intensity. The challenge will • What is broken in my life and needs mend- short help or hinder
be finding the spiritual energy to replicate this you live your life?
atmosphere in our own homes. ing?
On Rosh Hashanah God judges the whole • What chapter will I write in the Book of 3Ask yourself these
world and decides on their fate for the coming questions now. Do
year. It is as if the world has become a court- Life? you have answers?
room. God Himself is the Judge. The shofar These are days of reflection and introspection
announces that the court is in session, and we when we stand in the presence of God and ac- Adapted from the
are on trial, giving an account of our lives. If tak- knowledge how short and vulnerable life really introduction to the
en seriously, this is a potentially life-changing is, and how little time we have here on earth. Koren Rosh Hashanah
experience. It forces us to ask the most fateful There is no time to waste to become the very Machzor with com-
questions we will ever ask: best people we can be! mentary and transla-
tion by Rabbi Sacks
What Rosh Hashanah Says to Us
THE GENIUS of Judaism was to take eternal Here are 10 messages from Rosh Hashanah that
truths and translate them into time, into lived speak directly to our lives today.
experiences. Other cultures have constructed
philosophies and theologies, elaborate systems 1. Life is short
of abstract thought. Judaism prefers truth
lived to truth merely thought. Ancient Greece However much life expectancy has risen, we
produced the logical imagination. Judaism will not, in one lifetime, be able to achieve
produced the chronological imagination, truth everything we might wish to achieve. This life is
transposed into the calendar. Rosh Hashanah, all we have. How shall we use it well? We know
the anniversary of the creation of humanity, that we will not finish the task, but neither are
invites us to live and feel the human condition we free to stand aside from it.
in graphic ways.
R E F L EC T: What will you try to achieve
today after reflecting on this?
2. Life is a gift from God at the centre of the perennial attempt to give Life may be
human life the dignity of a purpose.” This is one hard, but it
Life itself, each day, every breath we take, is the of the truths of Rosh Hashanah. can still be
gift of God. Life is not something we may take sweet, the way
for granted. If we do, we will fail to celebrate R E F L EC T: Do you have a sense of the the challah
it. God gives us one gift above all others, said meaning of your life? and the apple
Rambam (Maimonides): life itself, beside are on Rosh
which everything else is secondary. Other 5. Life is not easy Hashanah
religions have sought God in heaven, or in the when we dip
afterlife, the distant past or the distant future. Judaism does not see the world through them in honey.
Here there is suffering, there reward; here rose-tinted lenses. The sufferings of our ances-
chaos, there order; here pain, there balm; here tors haunt our prayers. The world we live in
poverty, there plenty. Judaism has relentlessly is not the world as it ought to be. That is why,
sought God in the here-and-now of life on despite every temptation, Judaism has never
earth. Yes, we believe in life after death, but it been able to say the Messianic Age has come,
is in life before death that we truly find human even though we await it daily. But we are not
greatness. bereft of hope because we are not alone. When
Jews went into exile, the Shechinah, the Divine
R E F L EC T: How does understanding this presence, went with them. God is always there,
change the way you are going to live? “close to all who call on Him in truth” (Tehillim
145:18). He may hide His face, but He is there.
3. We are free He may be silent, but He is listening to us,
hearing us and healing us in ways we may not
Judaism is the religion of the free human being understand at the time but which become clear
freely responding to the God of freedom. We in retrospect.
are not in the grip of sin. We are not determined
by economic forces or psychological drives R E F L EC T: Does this message from Rosh
or genetically encoded impulses that we are Hashanah especially resonate this year?
powerless to resist. The very fact that we can Why?
do teshuvah, that we can act differently tomor-
row than we did yesterday, tells us we are free. 6. Life is still sweet
Philosophers have found this idea difficult. So
have scientists. But Judaism insists on it, and Life may be hard, but it can still be sweet, the
our ancestors proved it by defying every law of way the challah and the apple are on Rosh
history, surviving against the odds, refusing to Hashanah when we dip them in honey. Jews
accept defeat. have never needed wealth to be rich, or power
to be strong. To be a Jew is to live for simple
R E F L EC T: Where do we find this concept things: the love between husband and wife, the
reflected in the prayers of Rosh Hashanah? sacred bond between parents and children, the
gift of community where we help others and
4. Life is meaningful others help us and where we learn that joy is
doubled and grief halved by being shared. To be
We are not mere accidents of matter, generated a Jew is to give, whether in the form of tzedakah
by a universe that came into being for no reason or gemilut chasadim (acts of loving-kindness).
and will one day, for no reason, cease to be. It is to learn and never stop seeking, to pray
We are here because a loving God brought the and never stop thanking, to do teshuvah and
universe, and life, and us, into existence – a God never stop growing. In this lies the secret of joy.
who knows our fears, hears our prayers, believes Throughout history there have been hedonis-
in us more than we believe in ourselves, for- tic cultures that worship pleasure and ascetic
gives us when we fail, lifts us when we fall and cultures that deny it, but Judaism has a different
gives us the strength to overcome despair. The approach altogether: to sanctify pleasure by
historian Paul Johnson once wrote: “No people making it part of the worship of God. Life is
has ever insisted more firmly than the Jews that sweet when touched by the Divine.
history has a purpose and humanity a destiny.”
He concluded: “The Jews, therefore, stand right R E F L EC T: Where is the sweetness in your
7. Our life is a work of art We are, said Moshe, God’s children (Deva- And finally
rim 14:1). We are called on, said the prophet comes the
Our life is the single greatest work of art we will Yishayahu, to be His witnesses, His ambassa- sound of the
ever make. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, in one of dors on earth (Yishayahu 43:10). shofar... a
his earliest works, spoke about Ish Hahalachah, wordless cry
the halachic personality and its longing to Time and again Jews did things thought impos- in a religion of
create, to make something new, original. God sible. They battled against might in the name of words.
too longs for us to create and thereby become right. They fought against slavery. They showed
His partner in the work of renewal. “The most that it was possible to be a nation without
fundamental principle of all is that man must a land, to have influence without power, to
create himself.” That is what teshuvah is, an act be branded the world’s pariahs yet not lose
of making ourselves anew. On Rosh Hashanah self-respect. They believed with unshakeable
we step back from our life like an artist step- conviction that they would one day return to
ping back from their canvas, seeing what needs their land, and though the hope seemed absurd,
changing for the painting to be complete. it happened.
R E F L EC T: If you were going to create an Judaism sets the bar high, and though we may
expression of your life using any medium fall short time and again, Rosh Hashanah and
you are comfortable with (e.g. visual art, Yom Kippur allow us to begin anew, forgiven,
poetry, prose, music, etc.) how would you cleansed, undaunted, ready for the next chal-
do it? lenge, the next year.
8. We are what we are because of R E F L EC T: What do you think Judaism is
those who came before us asking of you in your life?
Our lives are not disconnected particles. We are 10. We are dust of the earth but
each a letter in God’s Book of Life. But single within us is the breath of God
letters, though they are the vehicles of mean-
ing, have no meaning when they stand alone. And finally comes the sound of the shofar,
To have meaning they must be joined to other piercing our defences, a wordless cry in a reli-
letters to make words, sentences, paragraphs, gion of words, a sound produced by breath as if
a story, and to be a Jew is to be part of the to tell us that that is all life is – a mere breath –
strangest, oldest, most unexpected and counter- yet breath is nothing less than the spirit of God
intuitive story there has ever been: the story of within us: “Then the Lord God formed man
a tiny people, never large and often homeless, from the dust of the ground and breathed into
who nonetheless outlived the greatest empires his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a
the world has ever known – the Egyptians, living being” (Bereishit 2:7).
Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans,
the medieval empires of Christianity and Islam, And whether the shofar is our cry to God or
all the way to the Third Reich and the Soviet God’s cry to us, somehow in that tekiah, sheva-
Union. Each in turn thought itself immortal. rim, teruah – the call, the sob, the wail – is all
Each has gone. The Jewish people still lives. But the emotion of the Divine–human encounter as
we do not start with nothing. We have inherited God asks us to take His gift, life itself, and make
wealth, not material but spiritual. We are heirs of it something holy, by so acting as to honour
to our ancestors’ greatness. God and His image on earth, humankind.
R E F L EC T: Think of all the ways your For we defeat death, not by living forever but by
life has been enriched by your parents, living by values that live forever; by doing deeds
grandparents, and great grandparents (and and creating blessings that will live on after us,
beyond). and by attaching ourselves in the midst of time
to God who lives beyond time, “the King – the
9. Judaism asks great things of us living, everlasting God.”
and by doing so makes us great.
R E F L EC T: Close your eyes and hear the
We walk as tall as the ideals for which we live, shofar. What is it saying to you? What do
and those of the Torah are very high indeed. you want it to say to God on your behalf?
WISHING EVERYONE A SHANA TOVA!