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Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

(EDITOR'S NOTE: We can never grow tired of repeating the wonderful stories of our sages and their pious deeds. It is through their devout and holy behavior that we hope to be inspired to emulate them. Therefore, in the zechus (merit) of repeating these stories (V'Shinantam L'Vanecha) we pray that we will all enjoy a year of peace, good health and happiness.)

Rabi Pinchas and Rabi Chilkayahu said in the name of Rabi Simone: 'At this time of year all the angels assemble before G-d and ask Him, 'L-rd of the Universe, when is Rosh Hashanah?' G-d replies 'Let us ask the earthly court and we will abide by their decision. "

Rabi Hoshai taught: If the earthly court decreed that today is Rosh Hashanah, G-d then commands the angels to call the Heavenly Court in session. He orders the prosecutor and the defendant to be ready to start trial. "For My children on earth have decreed that this day is Rosh Hashanah," says G-d.

If the earthy court has decided Rosh Hashanah should be postponed to the following day because of a leap year, then G-d orders the Heavenly Court to postpone its sessions to the following day. Why? Because a "decree issued by Israel is considered as law by the G-d of Jacob."

Three Books Opened On Judgment Day

Rabi Kruspadai said in the name of Rabi Yohanan: "Three Heavenly books are opened on Rosh Hashanah. One book is for the recording of the righteous, one book for the middle-of-the-way people and one book for the evil people. On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the righteous are immediately inscribed for life and happiness. The evil people are inscribed for a year of misery or death and the middle-of-the-way people are held in abeyance until Yom Kippur. If they repent and they deserve it then they are inscribed for life; otherwise they are sentenced to death."

Never Frighten The People

Our sages would condemn a prophet or official who had the tendency to frighten the populace. "Not harsh words of criticism, but words or consolation should be proclaimed to the people."

Our sages tell the following incident (Yoma): Once on Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol remained for a lengthy time in the Kodesh Kedoshim (Holy of Holies) praying fervently for the welfare of Israel.

The people became worried thinking that something happened to him. When he finally emerged, his fellow priests questioned him.

"Why were you so long in the Kodesh Kedoshim?" they asked. "You should be glad," he answered, that I remained so long. I was occupied in praying on behalf of Israel that they should have a good year and the Beit HaMikdash not be destroyed. Don't you appreciate my efforts in your behalf?"

"While we appreciate your efforts on our behalf," they replied, "we ask that you abide by the edict of our sages who declared that the Kohen Gadol should not tarry too long in the Kodesh Kedoshim, lest all Israel begin to worry that something might have happened to him. You must have consideration for their feelings."

The Love Of G-d

Rabi Kattina related that when Israel came up to Jerusalem on the holidays, they were shown the Cherubim that were entwined in each other's arms. They would then be thus addressed: "Look at these Cherubim! You are beloved before G-d as the love between man and woman."

Resh Lakish narrates that when those who destroyed the Temple entered the Kodesh Kedoshim and saw the Cherubim whose bodies were entwined with one another, they carried them out into the marketplace and announced to all: "Look at these foolish Jews who consider themselves so holy. They, whose blessing is a blessing and whose curse is a curse, occupy themselves with such foolish things:"

The beauty of this loving symbol was lost upon the cruel heathens.

The Blowing Of The Shofar

Rabi Yitzchak said, "Why do we blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah once while standing, and then again while seated? To confuse Satan."

Rabi Abuhu said, "Why do we blow shofar on th horn of a ram? G-d announces, 'Blow before me on th horn of a ram so that I may remember Akeidat Yitzchak and I will consider it as if you performed their deed, and it was you who were sacrificed before me."'

Rabi Abuhu said, "The angels asked G-d, 'Why. does not Israel say Hallel (Psalms of praise and joy) on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?"'

G -d answers them: "Here I am as a King sitting in judgment over them, with the books of life and death open before me, and Israel should be in a mood to sing praises?"

The Tailor And The Expensive Fish

Rabi Tanchuma narrates the following story: There was once a poor tailor who lived in Rome who went to the market to purchase a fish before Yom Kippur. This was to be his main meal before the Yom Kippur fast.

But he came too late and all the fish were sold out, except for one merchant who had one fish for sale. At that moment the servant of the governor entered and also desired to purchase the fish.

The poor tailor and the governor's servant began bidding against each other for the coveted fish. The bidding continued until the price reached 12 dinarim.

The servant turned away in disgust saying that his master would beat him if he squandered so much money for a mere fish. The tailor then bought the fish and brought it home.

That evening the governor noticed that his meal lacked fish. Angrily he asked his servant, "Why didn't you buy fish today?"

"O, Master;" pleaded the servant, "when I went to the marketplace today I found only one store that had but one fish. A poor Jew was also interested in this fish, and he began bidding until the price reached 12 dinarim. I then had to leave the fish to him. Would you have wanted that I pay 12 dinarim for a mere fish?"

The governor was amazed. He made inquiries until he found the poor Jew. and ordered him to appear before him.

When the Jew arrived the governor asked him, "How is it possible that a poor tailor can afford to purchase fish at 12 dinarim?"

"My lord," he replied. "We have one day in the year that we consider very holy, during which we pray that our sins of the entire year be forgiven. When this day arrives should we not honor it with all of our possessions?"

"Very well spoken," said the governor. "You may go for I respect you for your convictions and courage."

How did G-d reward this poor tailor? When he opened the fish he found a rare diamond in it. He sold the diamond and with the proceeds was able to live a richer life for many years.


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