Saturday, September 26, 2009

Erev Yom Kippur Thoughts on Teshuva a/k/a The Second Half of the Drasha

On Thursday night/Friday early morning, I summarized half of the this year's Rabbi Frand Teshuva Drasha. As I was unable to finish before my head dropped, I am continuing the summary in this motzei shabbos post. Same rules as always apply - I have attempted to reproduce these thoughts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand. [Ed Note - Blogger's spell check still was not working, so please excuse typos which I missed].

Rabbi Frand then quoted R' Shimshon Pincus who said that shabbos is an exceptional mitzva. Other mitzvos require an affirmative act in order to be mikayaim them - such as shofar which must be listened to or a lulav which must be waved, or learning torah. Shabbos does not require affirmative steps as Hashem brings it to us and gives us this holy present. Our only requirement is to appreciate the shabbos and prepare for its coming. Rabbi Frand indicated that this actually requires no additional steps - just a cognizance of the purpose of one's actions. The mother may already be peeling the potatoes or sauteeing the onions, the husband and children may be cleaning the house - they just need to realize that they are doing it to make shabbos special.

Rabbi Frand then mentioned a Mrs Ariella Jaffe from Highland Park, New Jersey who has started a program where the house is ready for shabbos by chatzos (midday) on Friday. She explained that her kids used to dread the coming of shabbos as she heard one of her children say - oy tonight is shabbos. She spoke with her daughter and saw through her eyes the scrambling and tension that went into the weekly Friday rush to get ready for shabbos. Now, when the kids come home from school they can relax as the afternoon gets on towards shabbos. Additionally, during the week as the food is prepared for shabbos, the kids might ask - is that dish for tonight or for shabbos. Knowing the great aromas from the week are from food which will be eaten on shabbos heightens their anticipation and appreciation of shabbos.

Rabbi Frand then said to the men that they are not off the hook in the preparation of shabbos. While they may not have the time to cook or even shop for shabbos, there are actions they can take to improve shabbos. Suggestions included: getting a dvar torah ready for the shabbos table (try Kosher Beers on Thursday nights after 11 PM for a summary of that week's Rabbi Frand vort), buying a special game to be played on shabbos with the kids (ours is Simpsons' Life), looking up a medrash in a sefer or listening to music for better zmiros.

Rabbi Frand then mentioned that he had been at a levaya (funeral) for Abe Shmel (unsure on the spelling) who recently passed away in his 90s. When Mr. Shmel came to America he did not have the time to learn Torah in a yeshiva and at the age of 11 he became an apprentice in a bakery. Every Friday morning he would go to work at the wee hours to make the challah for shabbos and as a result he would not have time to prepare a dvar torah. But he always made certain to sing zmiros with energy and fervor. As a result he has left children and grandchildren who are shomrei mitzvos.

Rabbi Frand then quoted a vort from the Or HaChaim Hakadosh on "v'shamru bnei yisrael es hashabbos...l'dorosam bris olam" He said that v'shamru does not mean guard. He connected it with the line about Yosef and his brothers where it is written in Vayeshev - "v'aviv shamar es hadavar" - Yaakov knew what was transpiring. If you watch out for shabbos and have an awareness and desire for it, you can insure your children will be bnei and bnos torah as it will be a bris olam.

Rabbi Frand quoted from R' Mattisyahu Solomon's new sefer (I did not catch the name) that we are living in dangerous time for raising children. How do we protect them --- show them a proper shabbos. He quoted a gemara that said that anyone who keeps shabbos properly, even if he worships idols like the generation of Enosh, Hashem will forgive him. The Taz asks - how do we understand this? If the person did not do teshuva, how is he forgiven and if he did do teshuva, than that is the cause of the forgiveness! He answered that worshipping idols caused a permanent stain on a person's neshama. However, by properly keeping shabbos along with doing teshuva the stain can be erased.

Rabbi Frand then told a story from the book "the Lilac Bush" by Mrs Judith Cohen Mandel Novak. She grew up in a town in Hungary where her father was the Rabbi and his father before him had been the Rabbi. She recalled the wonderful zmiros at her family's shabbos table as she sat and sang with her many sisters. When the Nazis invaded Hungary, she and her family were deported to a concentration camp. She was the only member of her family to survive. After the war, she and some others from her town decided to take a train back to see what was left. While on the train they were all conversing and becoming increasingly bitter about the trip. They decided that when they got to the town they would go and stone the shul because they were angry at Hashem and this was His house. Mrs Mandel picked up a stone and was about to throw it, when she had a flashback to her parents' shabbos table. She realized that if she threw the stone, she could never have another shabbos like that again. She put the stone down.

I apologize again for not being able to complete this post on Thursday night, because the closing of the drasha was quite powerful. Rabbi Frand said that as we enter Shabbos Shuva we can fix our shabbos and our souls by deciding that this shabbos will be different. The next shabbos is the first day of Sukkos and we can welcome the shabbos warmly in our sukkah. The following shabbos is Shemini Atzeres and we can also incorporate shabbos and yom tov. By that time we will already be three shabboses into our new cycle, building towards our next Yom Kippur.

Gmar Tov.

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