Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Erev Rosh Hashana of 5775
29 Elul 5774/September 24, 2014
 EIRUV TAVSHILIN for Shabbos Shuva
A friend of mine once asked me what I would do if nothing unusual happened to me or anyone in my family throughout the week. Would I not write a Musings column that week?
Writing this column each week is particularly enjoyable. It forces me to take a second look at many of the events and foibles that happen in our family’s daily life and to find a deeper meaning or symbolism in what occurred.
I mentioned recently that my mentor in viewing life in this manner is my High School Rosh Yeshiva and lifelong rebbe, Rabbi Berel Wein. His columns and lectures are filled with such penetrating, and often humorous, insights gleaned from daily events.
The truth is that our very traditions and customs seem to steer us in this direction, of understanding and appreciating the symbolic meaning behind every aspect of life. Life is very confusing and if a person doesn’t know how to see beyond the surface and to search for the deeper meaning he will remain with a very shallow and superficial perspective. 
Nowhere is this more blatant than in the month of Tishrei and the commencement of the New Year. On the first night of Rosh Hashana when we sit down to our festive meals, we eat an array of ‘symbolic foods’ and recite prayers which incorporate a play on words based on the food’s Hebrew name. The Jewish people are far from superstitious; in fact we are generally suspecting and suspicious. But in the first moments of the year we declare that everything in the world can be a source for prayer. Anything and everything can serve as a reminder that G-d is right there always, and we can pray to him at anytime for any and all of our needs and wants.
Every custom is ancient and holy and replete with deep mystical meanings. But the common denominator is that they are all symbolisms which seek to arouse our emotions to abet our personal process of teshuva.
Tashlich is recited by a flowing body of water to represent G-d’s eternal monarchy which ‘flows’ eternally. As one grasps the chicken for kappraos and then slaughters it he should think that whatever happens to the chicken should really be occurring to him. The hoshanos/aravos we beat on the floor symbolizes our mouths which often prattle on and on without sufficient restraint.
It’s been said that the world is G-d’s classroom. But the only way we can hearken to His messages is if we are paying attention. The month of Tishrei and its holidays and customs offers us the requisite training to prepare us for the rest of the year.

Kesiva Vachasima Tova & Shana Tova to all,
            R’ Dani and Chani Staum     

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