Saturday, September 24, 2011

Motzei Shabbos Pre Selichos Special - The Shofar That Would Not Blow

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand this past Thursday night on Rosh Hashanah. I had actually heard a slightly different version of the vort earlier in the day as I had downloaded it from the site earlier in the day. As I was listening to it in my car, I was thinking about trying to transcribe it on Motzei Shabbos. When I heard R' Frand say the vort again (and in my opinion more powerfully) at the close of the Thursday night shiur, I knew that it would be worth sharing on the blog. As always, have attempted to reproduce this vort 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.

R' Frand quoted the Magen Avraham in Shulchan Aruch 585 who writes about a story that occurred once when the shofar could not blow. After the ba'al tokeiah tried and tried, he whispered the pasuk V'yihee Noam Hashem Elokeinu Aleinu into the wide end of the shofar and then the shofar was able to blow.

R' Frand quoted the Tollner Rebbi who asked three questions on the Magen Avraham:
(1) Why is the Magen Avraham telling us stories about the shofar? The Magen Avraham was generally terse and did not waste words.
(2) Why did the person say the pasuk V'yihee Noam? It would have been understandable if it was Tiku Bachodesh Shofar or some other pasuk related to Rosh Hashanah and Tekiyas Shofar, but why this pasuk?
(3) Why was the pasuk whispered into the wide end of the shofar? The Livush explains that we blow from the narrow side because Min Hameitzar Karasi Ka. If we want the shofar to sound, it needs to come from the narrow side.

R' Frand quoted the Tollner Rebbi who answered the three questions. He explained that the Magen Avraham was not telling us a story - he was telling us the foundation of Rosh Hashanah, the foundation of teshuva and the foundation of life.

The pasuk of V'yihee Noam was first said by Moshe after the completion of the mishkan. Once the Jews completed the construction, Moshe said these words of bracha. The reason Moshe said this after completion of the building of the mishkan was because the Jews came out of Egypt with no knowledge of construction or artistry and they still were able to build the mishkan anyway. The message to the Jews by being asked to build the mishkan was - it does not matter what your background is, you have to try. Thus the end of the pasuk of Y'yihee Noam - may Hashem establish our handiwork for us.

Indeed, the question can be asked - if Hashem wanted a mishkan, why did He not build it Himself like the third Bais Hamikdash which will come down from shamayim. The answer is - Hashem wanted them to try. This is the message of the Magen Avraham - the Ba'al Tokeiah was unable to blow the shofar, so he said to Hashem I tried - now You help up please.

This is also why he said the pasuk into the wide side. The Ba'al Tokeiah said the pasuk into the wide side because he had already done his part of trying from the narrow side. In effect he was saying min hameitzar karasi - I called out from the narrow end, now, annani bamerchav - answer me please from the wide end - Your end.

R' Frand explained that this is the avodah of Rosh Hashanah - we blow shofar to ask Hashem to leave the kisei hadin and sit on the kisei rachamim. Why can't He do this on his own? Because we have to act and give Him a reason to do it.

This is how we should approach Rosh Hashanah and teshuva - we need to put our effort in and then He will help us. Of course this applies to all efforts in life (R' Frand stressed that this includes raising children) - we need to act and Hashem will help us.

R' Frand then quoted a Medrash in Shir Hashirim which tells of how R' Chanina was jealous that others were going up to Yerushalayim. R' Chanina was upset because he had nothing to bring up. He went into the forest and saw a beautiful stone. R' Chanina polished the stone and shaped it and wanted to bring it up, but it was too heavy. R' Chanina went looking for workers to help him bring the stone up, but they wanted 100 gold pieces for their troubles. R' Chanina was despondent and turned away, but then five angels who were disguised as people approached and offered to help. They said that they would bring it up for only 5 sela'im - a small amount of money. But there was one catch, R' Chanina had to help carry the stone.

R' Chanina agreed to the requests of the "workers" and together they carried the stone up to the Beis Hamikdash. When they reached the Beis Hamikdash and the stone was placed in the heichal, R' Chanina turned to pay them and they had vanished.

The message of this Medrash is not that if you have a flat tire, five angels will appear and offer to change it for a nickel. Instead, the message is that we have to try and then Hashem will help us. This is the message of the Magen Avraham and the words of V'yihee Noam.

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