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Hanna's Dvar Torah

6 things you did not know about the Shofar - Rosh Hashana

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Tuuuuuu!

The focal point of Rosh Hashana is the sounding of the Shofar. But what is a Shofar? When do we sound it and why?

I collected especially for you 6 things which you may not know about the Shofar.

1.       What is the Shofar made of?

It is made of a ram’s horn.

2.       When do we sound the Shofar?

On Rosh Hashana, except when it falls on Shabbat, it’s a Mitzvah for each one of us to hear the sounding of the Shofar. We need to make sure to hear it on Monday 30/09/19 and on Tuesday 1/10/19.

There is also a custom to sound the Shofar during the month of Elul on weekdays. The Shofar reminds us of the upcoming High Holidays and urges us to improve our actions and arrive to Rosh Hashana well prepared.

At the end of Yom Kippur, we also sound the Shofar to mark the end of the fast. It is important to know that the Shofar of Yom Kippur is simply a custom whereas the Shofar on Rosh Hashana is a Mitsvah, a commandment.

3.       Crowning the King

On the first day of the year, we crown again G-d as our King. G-d, of course, does not need us to crown Him in order to rule over us, but He wants to rule over us with our acceptance. We should crown Him.

The Shofar is like the trumpets sounded on the day of the crowning. Long life to the King!

4.       Wakeup call

Wake up! Those of us who are deeply occupied with various material matters – let’s wake up and let our soul express herself. The Shofar sounds like a call, a cry that comes from the depth of the heart and calls us to think a little about our situation. To reflect on the passed year, see what should be continued during the New Year and what should be improved. This year should be better that the previous one.

5.       The Shofar in the near future

Very soon, we will hear the sounding of the Shofar which will mark the arrival of Mashiach! The moment we have been waiting for so long.

6.       Who will hear the Shofar this year on Rosh Hashana 5780 – 2019?

Everyone! I, you, our parents, our children, our students, our friends and the entire Jewish community of Greece. No one wants to miss it! 😊

Ktiva vechatima tova leshana tova umetuka!

Shabbat Shalom

Hanna

World's best parent - Ki Tavo

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Little Miriam was screaming from the minute they entered the doctor's room. She was so scared of the vaccine that her mother felt sorry for her and they left the doctor's office without taking it.

We may say that this mother deserves the title of "World's Best Mama"… However, everyone understands that on the long run, this behavior will not do any good to the child.

We can see nowadays a decline in parental authority. Parents prefer to let their children do whatever they want. Research shows that children growing up without limits tend to have a low self-esteem and not to know how to deal properly with the world or with friends.

The opposite approach of having a very strict and authoritarian educating system hurts the relationship between parents and children. Children grow up with resentment in their heart that can express itself in very negative ways during adolescence.

What is the correct way?

In this week's Parasha Kit Tavo, the Torah commands us to walk "in the ways of G-d". How can we do that? The Maimonides explains that G-d's path is the middle path, far from any extreme. Extremism comes from blind feelings. The middle path requires thought and maturity. When we think about what does G-d want from us in this particular situation, then we will find the correct balance.

Such a parent, when he or she wants to give something to the child or allow him to do something, will take the time to reflect on this action: is it indeed for the good of the child or is it only because he or she does not have the strength to fight with him. On the other hand, if the parent wants to punish the child, he or she will think very well about if this action is for the good of the child or it is only in order to let out their nerves.

The great grandfather of my friend, Rabbi Meir Belisinki, was known as great educator. Once, his son did something very dangerous, and he wanted punish him. Yet he was not sure if this was in order to express his anger or coming from a true care for the child's future. Therefore, he went inside his room and thought for a long while, and only then decided on how to act. 

Education of our children is just one example. We can all apply this line of thought. Always walk in the middle path, thinking about what G-d wants from us. In this way, Mashiach will surely come now!

Shabbat Shalom!

Hanna

A spontaneous Mitsva - Ki Tetse

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How important is it to make preparations before doing something? Are you the organized type or more spontaneous?

In this week’s Parasha Ki Tetse, we learn about the Mitsvah of Shiluach Haken (Sending from the Nest): the Torah tells us that if, while walking in the street, we see a nest with eggs or chicks and we want to take them, we need to send away the mother and not take advantage of the fact that the mother stays close to her young, in order to catch her as well. G-d promises a long life to those who do it.

What is special about this Mitzvah that it cannot be planned. It happens suddenly, when we find a nest by chance and happen to want to take the eggs.

This teaches us that is not necessary to make many preparations before doing something good. We do not need to look for a special occasion. Mitzvot show up in front of us during the day and we need to seize the opportunity to accomplish them.

We suddenly remark that our colleague is bothered by something. There is no need to waste time and make a whole plan about how to approach him/her and see if we can help. We can simply ask about how they feel.

A friend of us suddenly tells us that he/she is going to an interesting Torah class. Even if we didn’t have it on our program, we can join them!

Or someone suddenly asks for help about a certain matter. Even if our weekly volunteering is already arranged, we can still see about how we can manage to help.

Naturally, we also must have our programmed Mitsvot. But there is something special in those extra Mitsvot that we simply find here and here. When we do them, this shows that we really want to do the right thing and we are not doing it only because “we must”.

In the merit of all these Mitzvot, both programmed and not, may the Mashiach come now!

Shabbat Shalom!

Hanna

How a can coward become courageous - Shoftim

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My friend is very scared of dogs. But when she was a counselor in camp and had to walk near a dog with the children, she kept calm and even managed to calm down those kids who were scared and help them continue their way.

How did she do it?

In this week’s Parasha, the Torah speaks about wars and fixes some moral rules which apply even on the battlefront. We also read about the conditions under which a soldier can leave the battle. One of those situations is if someone is scared. Then, he shall leave the battlefield in order not to spread his fear and deject the others, and participate in the war effort in a different way.

What is interesting is that this only applies to “optional wars”, meaning those wars that take place for political purposes or to expand the land. But when it is a “Mitzvah war”, where the Torah commands us to fight, for instance in order to defend ourselves or to conquer the Land of Israel, then everyone must fight.

Why? If the problem is that the coward will deject the other fighters, then this is a given. What difference is there if the war was decided by G-d or by the Jewish leaders of this period? The coward will always fear the war, won’t he?

The Rambam (Maimonides), explains the deep logic that is found in this rule. Our fear and anxiety grow when we have more than one choice. Since there is a possibility for the war not to happen and it doesn’t come from an absolute command of G-d, then there is a space for fear and worry to influence and dishearten the fighters. But if the war is an absolute and clear order of G-d that is not about to change, then it is an obligation and not a choice, and then even the biggest coward can become courageous.

Like my friend who is very scared of dogs. When she knew that she had a responsibility for her team and that they must walk near the dog, then she suddenly became brave.

Like the religious smokers. Even those who on a weekday cannot manage one hour without a cigarette, when Shabbat comes, they manage not to smoke for 25 hours! This is because in their mind, keeping the Shabbat is an obligation which must be kept. There is no choice.

This rule applies to religion, to work and generally to all the areas of life. If we are absolutely certain that something must happen, then we will find the strength and the way to achieve it, no matter how difficult it is.

In this way, even a coward can become courageous.

Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

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