Rosh Hashana

September 16th 2023

1st of Tishri 5784

Today is the Birthday of the World

Rabbi David Chananya Pinto

Parashat Nitzavim always falls in close proximity to Rosh Hashana. This shows us there is a distinct connection between this Parsha and Rosh Hashana, the day when all the Jewish people stand in judgment before Hashem. We know that Hashem started creating the world on the twenty-fifth of Elul, and on Rosh Hashana G-d created man — the crown of creation.

On the same day that G-d created Adam, He put him in Gan Eden and warned him not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Despite this warning, Adam did not withstand the allurement of his wife who was tempted by the snake, and he sinned by eating from the tree of knowledge. Originally G-d wanted to judge Adam immediately following his sin, but since Shabbat had already begun, G-d judged him and banished him from Gan Eden only after Shabbat.

The wording of the prayer, “Today is the birthday of the world,” needs to be understood. If the first day of creation was the twenty-fifth of Elul, not Rosh Hashana, why do we consider Rosh Hashana to be the birthday and creation of the world?

On Rosh Hashana, man, who is the crowning glory of creation, was created and since the entire purpose of creation was for his sake, we therefore consider this day to be the birthday of the world.

Hashem took the Jewish people out of Mitzrayim so they could receive the Torah. Had Hashem not known if Am Yisrael would be willing to accept the Torah, He would not have redeemed them and we and our children would still be enslaved in Mitzrayim. It is clear from this that the merit of Torah is what enabled Am Yisrael to be redeemed (Shemot, Rashi 3,4). So too, the purpose of creating the world was for mankind, and if not for him the world would have no reason to be created. Since mankind is the crown and essence of creation, therefore the day he was created (Rosh Hashana) is considered the birthday of the world. In his sefer, the Ohev Yisrael zy”a questions why Moshe Rabbeinu said (Devarim 29:9), “You are standing today, all of you,” and after that mentions in detail, “the heads of your tribes, your elders” etc. Does the wording “all of you” not include all the different ranks? Why did Moshe Rabbeinu feel a need to detail all the positions when he already included them in “all of you”?

We can explain this by understanding that on Rosh Hashana Hashem does not only judge the Jewish people but the entire world — all living things, plants, inanimate objects, Jews and non- Jews. What is the determining factor for the fate of the world for the coming year? The spiritual state of the Jewish people. If the Jewish people are connected to Torah and are particular to listen to G-d’s voice, then Hashem will judge the world for good, but if G-d forbid the Jewish people turn their backs on Hashem and His Torah, then Hashem is harsh with His judgment for the entire world, and all are stricken because of the sins of Am Yisrael.

If so, the words “all of you” hint to the entire creation which is judged on Rosh Hashana and the description that Moshe Rabbeinu added, “the heads of your tribes, your elders...,” is referring to the spiritual level of the Jewish people at that time which influences the decision to be judged for death or kindness for the whole world. We must take these words to heart and stand ready before Hashem throughout the year, not only during the days of judgment. When Hashem sees that His children are constantly doing His will and not leaving it for the days of mercy and forgiveness, then G-d’s trait of mercy will be used to determine the decree for the entire world and for the Jewish people in particular, for a positive verdict, for salvation and for solace.


Based on the teachings of Moreinu v‘Rabbeinu Hagaon Hatzaddik Rabbi David Chananya Pinto, shlita

Remembrance of Shofar Blowing When Rosh Hashana Falls on Shabbat

The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 29b) brings the following apparent contradiction. In one verse we are told that Rosh Hashana is “a remembrance of shofar blasts” (Vayikra 23:24) and in another verse it says “a day of shofar sounding” (Bamidbar 29:1). The Gemara answers that one verse refers to Rosh Hashana that falls on Shabbat and the other verse refers to Rosh Hashana that falls on a weekday. Since on Shabbat one does not blow the shofar, it is not called “a day of shofar sounding” but only “a remembrance of shofar blasts.” The Sefer Beit Ahron poses the following difficulty: on Succot too one is forbidden to take the four species when the Chag falls on Shabbat, nevertheless we do not find that on Shabbat of Succot there is a special mention of not taking the lulav. So why when Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbat do we need to mention “a remembrance of shofar blasts”?

There is a further difficulty. The Targum Yonatan (Bamidbar 29:1) writes that the reason why we blow the shofar on Rosh Hashana is that by blowing the shofar the Satan becomes confused and runs away, and in that way he does not succeed in accusing Am Yisrael. The difficulty is, when Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbat there is still judgment for Am Yisrael, if so, by not blowing the Shofar on this day, what will confuse the Satan and cause him to flee? How will the accusation be averted?

This could be the reason why we mention a remembrance of the shofar blasts when Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbat. Just mentioning the shofar blasts is enough to confuse the Satan and cause him to flee, without accusing Am Yisrael who stand in judgment before Hashem. The reason why this is so is because Hashem considers a positive intention as an actual deed, and since we are not blowing the shofar only because Hashem has instructed us to only awaken the remembrance of the blasts, this thought of remembering the blasts is considered as if we actually blew the Shofar and is enough to chase away the Satan.

This idea is far-reaching. If by just mentioning the mitzvah of blowing shofar on Shabbat, it has the powerful effect of chasing away the Satan, if so when a person actually fulfills the mitzvah of blowing the Shofar, how much more so does it have the power of having an effect on a person and enabling him to grow in his avodat Hashem. שבת (Shabbat) has the same root letters as תשובה (repentance).

This implies that the holiness that is present every Shabbat has the power to cleanse a person from any dirt that may have clung to him and help him repent sincerely before his Creator. If on Shabbat Rosh Hashana, just mentioning the shofar blowing has the power to work against the Satan, so too on every Shabbat when a person leaves behind his weekday occupations and involves himself only in ,תרועה shofar sounding, which can be rewritten as תורה ע , referring to the Torah that can be explained in seventy (numerical value of the letter ע ) ways, how much more so does the power of occupying oneself with Torah on Shabbat have an effect of chasing away the Satan from man, enabling him to elevate and sanctify himself before Hashem.

It is a shame to wait for this opportunity that arrives once in several years when Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbat. We have the ability to utilize the holiness of Torah study every single Shabbat to sanctify ourselves and grow in Torah and cut ourselves off from the Yetzer Hara.


Reconciling with Her Husband

R’ Ishua Deri came to Mogador in 5759 together with his wife, to join in the hilula of the tzaddik Rabbi Chaim Pinto Hagadol.

Before joining the hilula, R’ Deri decided to visit Moreinu v’Rabbeinu, to receive his blessings. However, he did not have money to offer the Rav for charity, as was customary. He only had some savings, which he had put away for his personal needs.

His wife sensed his hesitation and warned him, “Do not approach the Rav, since you do not have money to donate for charity.” However, R’ Deri did not agree with his wife and told her, “We do have savings, and I can offer them to the Rav.” His wife argued against this plan, “If you give away all our savings to the Rav, from where will we have money for the approaching holidays of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot?”

He responded simply, “May Hashem have mercy on us.”

His wife attempted to dissuade him from going to speak to the Rav, but he walked into his office and placed an envelope on the table containing one thousand francs. When he left the room, his wife wailed, “How could you give the Rav all our savings?”

R’ Deri stood his ground, “How is it possible to go to the hilula of a tzaddik and not give his descendant money for tzedakah?”

“In that case, you could have donated a quarter of the amount and not given away all the money we had saved!” His wife continued to protest and grumble.

R’ Deri calmed her down and asserted, “In this merit, Hashem will perform miracles for us, so we will be able to celebrate the holidays joyously.”

After the hilula, the couple returned to their home in Casablanca. On their way, a stranger approached them and asked R’ Deri, “Do you have money to buy provisions to celebrate the festivals properly?”

“No,” he answered. The man took out a sum of one thousand francs from his pocket and handed it to him.

Who was the strange Jew? Only Hashem knows. R’ Deri’s wife was flabbergasted. She saw the tremendous miracle with her own eyes: the entire sum which they had donated in honor of the tzaddik was returned to them. She made peace with her husband. The entire night they sat and discussed the holiness of the tzaddik, zy”a, and how they had received all the money which they needed for the holiday expenses in his merit. In addition, they had given tzedakah, for which they would be rewarded eternally.


The Day of Allocation

“I went into a taxi before Rosh Hashana,” tells over Harav Shtein shlita, “and the driver said to me, ‘I don’t understand what all the intimidations of you rabbanim are about? Throughout the year I was a good Jew, I didn’t harm anyone and most hours of the day I was occupied with my business. I feel I am all set for Rosh Hashana. I have organized a place in the beit knesset next to the air-conditioning, and have even bought the fish.’”

“I listened to him,” says Rav Shtein, “and I was shaken. To this degree there are people who don’t understand what Rosh Hashana is all about? How every person is judged if he fulfilled the Torah obligations, not to insult another, to guard his eyes, was he particular with the laws of Shabbat etc. He should open the newspaper every day and see that G-d does not rest for a minute. Who doesn’t cry when reaching the paragraph in the prayers, ‘On Rosh Hashana will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from this earth and how many will be created…’

“On Rosh Hashana they draw up a list in heaven and begin to announce: ‘Who will enjoy tranquility?’ Which person will merit peace and tranquility this year? On the other hand, which person will always be stressed and worried chas v’shalom. ‘Who will be degraded and who will be exalted?’ Who will lose their job or be downgraded and feel humiliated? On the other hand, who will merit a raise and receive a more impressive and important position in his workplace? Which woman will receive consideration and attentiveness from her husband and children and who chas v’shalom won’t merit this. All this is included! Therefore, writes Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, zt”l, a person is obligated to beg and plead on Rosh Hashana for every single thing in his life: tranquility, health, success, income, happiness, peace in the home etc.”

Rabbi Chaim Friedlander zt”l writes in his sefer Sifsei Chaim in the name of the holy Ramchal zy”a, that on Rosh Hashana Hashem designates a task for each Jewish person in His kingdom for the coming year. For example: ploni will merit a year of tranquility so he can continue toiling in Torah undisturbed for many hours. Someone else might merit that this year will find him in good health, without even a slight cold, so he can do chessed and help needy people and donate to yeshivot. And plonit will have nachat from her children and satisfaction from her work so she will be better able to honor her husband, causing the Shechina to rest between them.


Speech that Causes Death

One who talks about his friend transgresses the negative commandment of “Do not go tale-bearing among your people” (Vayikra 19:16). It is a great sin which brings people to kill. Therefore, the verse continues, “Do not stand by the blood of your friend” which is spelling out the consequence of transgressing this sin. Take note what happened as a result of the tale-bearing of Do’eg Ho’Adomi; the entire town of Nov, the city of Kohanim, was killed.


Tidbits of faith and trust penned by Moreinu v‘Rabbeinu Hagaon Hatzaddik Rabbi David Chananya Pinto, shlita

A Condition for Life

A certain young man was eons away from a life of Torah and mitzvot. Although his brother lived in Lyon, my hometown, this boy had never heard of me. That is, until his life took a 180-degree turn. This is how it happened:

The young man was involved in a tragic car accident and was in critical condition. In spite of numerous operations and various procedures, he remained unconscious. His medical condition was so severe that his doctors despaired of his ever recovering. His brother, who lives in Lyon, contacted our yeshiva there. He urgently asked the secretary, R’ Shimon Halimi, z”l, to connect him with me. At the time, I was with my family in Nice. My devoted secretary told the man it was impossible to reach me. But he would not give up. He asked the secretary to grant him a personal favor. His brother was lying in a hospital in Marseille, between two worlds. The secretary took down his brother’s name. He then phoned me and asked that I pray for him in the merit of my holy ancestors, that he be completely cured.

The very next day, the young man opened his eyes and completely regained consciousness. His first words were, “Where is Rabbi David Pinto?”

At this sight, his family members themselves almost went into a state of shock. Besides for his return to life, they were taken aback at his question. He had never met me or known about me. But they hurried to reply, “Rabbi David Pinto is not here just now. He is in Nice.”

The boy accepted this answer. Then he asked them to provide him with tzitzit and tefillin, items which he had never touched. His dazed family rushed to fulfill his order. Then they asked what this was all about. The boy turned to everyone gathered and explained:

“When I was in a coma, I felt myself being lifted heavenward. There I was greeted by the souls of my departed ancestors. They had come to accompany me on my final journey, for I was about to leave the lower world. I was deathly afraid and refused to join them. Suddenly, I heard the words, ‘Let him be and allow him to return to the living. Harav David Pinto is praying on his behalf in the merit of his holy ancestors.’ Before allowing me to return, I was given an ultimatum. I must undertake to wear tzitzit and tefillin every single day. Then my neshamah returned to my body, and I opened my eyes.” This was the boy’s hair-raising story.

Baruch Hashem, the boy made steady improvement, both physically and spiritually. He merited reinforcing his knowledge of Judaism and acceptance of Hashem. To this day, he is scrupulous about wearing tzitzit and tefillin every day. He has merited marrying and is building a true Jewish home, sanctifying Hashem’s Name in the world.


The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 16a) tells us, “The world is judged on four occasions. On Pesach for produce, on Azeret (Shavuot) for fruit, on the Chag (Succot) for water, and on Rosh Hashana all mankind pass before Him like members of the flock, as it says, He fashions their hearts all together, He comprehends all their deeds.”

The Gemara asks, what does “like members of the flock” mean? The Gemara offers three responses: The first explanation: “Like the warriors of Bet David” — the soldiers of David Hamelech used to go out to war, each one a skilled expert — so too on Rosh Hashana we pass before Hashem one by one, like those great and important ones.

The second explanation: “Like the ascent of Bet Choron” — this refers to a high mountain which has a narrow path at its highest point, where two people cannot pass at the same time. So too on Rosh Hashana we pass before Hashem one by one.

The third explanation: “like sheep that are counted for tithing” — like sheep that are let past one by one when reckoning the tithes of the flock. When one tithes the sheep, they pass through a narrow door where only one can go through at a time. They count nine sheep and then the tenth one is marked with a red line as a sign that he was chosen for ma’aser. Rabbi Shabtai Yudelevitz zt”l questions why, in order to clarify that each one passes single file, we need three allegories, like “soldiers,” like “a steep hill,” like “counting sheep for ma’aser”?

Rabbi Shabtai clarifies with a story about a successful merchant who travelled to market day where he invested all his money, including money he had borrowed from friends, in purchasing expensive merchandise. He decided to take the risk of illegally crossing the border to be saved from paying tax on the merchandise, which would considerably increase his wealth.

He did not rest until he found a wagon driver who was willing to take him across the border. He arranged every detail of the escape — the travelling would be done at night when there was no light from the moon, and on nights when there were not many soldiers by the border. The appointed night arrived and the merchant loaded the wagon with all his expensive merchandise. Then he and the wagon driver climbed up on the wagon.

Immediately at the start of the journey, the wagon driver noticed the merchant’s hands and legs shaking… The wagon driver mockingly asked him, “Why are you trembling, we have another five hours until we get to our destination, what are you afraid of now when we are still near home?”

The merchant answered him, “Why should I not be afraid? I am making a simple calculation: if I will succeed I will gain tremendous wealth. My profits will amount to more than ten times the amount that I invested, and from then on I will enjoy the life of a rich and admired person; how wonderful! But if, G-d forbid, towards daylight we will meet a soldier at the border who will command us to halt, then the merchandise will be banned, I will not see a penny from it, and I will find myself in prison with my creditors hounding my family. Since this is the case, how can I not tremble?”

Meanwhile, they continued on their way. Midnight arrived; they entered the forest and approached the border. It was then that the merchant noticed the wagon driver trembling like a leaf. The merchant asked him:

“Dear wagon driver, why are you so afraid?” The wagon driver answered, “Listen, at the end of the day I am also human; we are getting closer to the riskiest stretch. It is true I do not own any of this merchandise, but the thought of sitting in prison for a month is not a pleasant one; the wagon and horses that will be taken from me I did not get free of charge”…

With wildly beating hearts they carried on travelling deeper into the thick forest following the paths they had prepared in advanced; both trembling… But one thing is clear to them: the “horses” are not trembling, they don’t understand anything, the fear in the air does not mean anything to them, the “horse” stays an animal before the border, at the border and after the border…

Ay! Continued the Maggid Rabbi Shabtai in his famous tune: This is what the Gemara is hinting at with the three examples: the first one refers to the Jew who at the beginning of Elul begins to tremble, already on Shabbat mevorchin when “Rosh Chodesh Elul” is announced he starts trembling “like the soldiers of Bet David” who do not join the battalion without practicing first. They invest much energy and extended effort long before the crucial operation. And then there is a second type of person whose yirat Shamayim stays weak until Rosh Hashana, but once Rosh Hashana arrives he begins to tremble “like the ascent of Bet Choron,” because when one walks on a dangerous path with a huge drop on both sides, one walks in single file, in fear. So too, on the Day of Judgment he is consumed with fear. But there is a third kind, Jewish people who are compared to quiet sheep joyfully skipping around who enter the gate and are counted one at a time and do not understand anything. Oy, the tenth sheep does not know the owner marked him with a red line on his back, he will soon be taken to be slaughtered…

“On Rosh Hashana will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die;” a mark of life on the back or G-d forbid a red line, “and who will die”. Where is your sense? Hashem sits on the throne of judgment on Rosh Hashana.

But the court case did not arrive suddenly, without notice. “Like an eagle awakens his nest, over his young he hovers,” the eagle has mercy on his children and doesn’t enter the nest unexpectedly, but flies from tree to tree and chirps to his fellow bird in order to arouse his children so they will be prepared to receive his weight. So too, throughout Elul Hashem knocks with the shofar, “Wake up sleeping ones from your sleep and those who sleep deeply awaken from your slumber.” Hashem wishes to rouse us in preparation for Rosh Hashana, when the books of life and death are opened.


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