11 Mar 2016 Days of Rejoicing, Salvation, and Song
Erev Shabos Kodesh, Rosh Chodesh Adar II, Parshas Pekudei, Shabos Chazak.
The Sages teach (Taanis 29a) משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה, When Adar begins we increase joy. Rashi (ibid) explains that the joy is due to the great miracles that were done for Israel on the days of Purim and Pesach.
Indeed, during these great days we rejoice and give thanks. This morning we sing the great song of thanks and praise, Hallel, which is a compilation of verses and chapters from Tehillim, and we joyously declare:
הודו לה׳ כי טוב כי לעולם חסדו – Give thanks to Hashem, for He is good; His kindness endures forever.
יאמר נא ישראל כי לעולם חסדו – Let Israel say: His kindness endures forever (Ps.118:1-2).
About Hallel, Rav Soloveitchik zt’l teaches, “The arrangement of those chapters of Psalms that we commonly refer to as Hallel is known in the Talmud more specifically as Hallel HaMitzri, the Egyptian Hallel. The theme of this Hallel is the miraculous: When Israel left Egypt…the sea saw and fled, the Yarden River flowed backwards, the mountains ran like gazelles…He transformed the rock to a pond of water… These are occasions when the Creator breaches the processes of nature and temporarily suspends the laws of the physical world… The appellation Hallel HaMitzri is used because the primary theme of this Hallel is the supernatural event that G-d performed on behalf of His people on the night of the Exodus.”
During these days of Adar and Nisan, during which we celebrate Purim and Pesach, as we increase joy and recall the salvation of Hashem, we give thanks.
And yet, we are simultaneously reminded to recall the enemies who rose up to destroy us during these times. During Adar/Purim, we were saved from the wicked plans of King Achashvairosh and Haman ha’rasha, from the seed of Amalek. During Nisan/Pesach, we were freed from arrogant, cruel Pharaoh and the oppressive, back breaking slavery of Egypt.
For not in one generation alone do they rise up against us, but rather, in each and every generation they rise up to destroy us… and HKB”H saves us from their hands.
My maternal grandfather, Yitzchak Kaftan – Yitzchak ben Moshe a’h, wrote in his town Yizkor book: “As soon as the Germans arrived in Krashnik (Poland), the subjugation and pain of the Jewish population began. Already, a few weeks after they took over the city, no one could go to daven at a Shul. If anyone wanted to pray with a minyan, then a few elderly Jews gathered in a private residence and prayed. On a certain Shabos, when I went to lead the service at Reb Peretz Goldberg, may G-d avenge his blood, a German accosted me and began to drag me to the marketplace where a large number of Jews were already assembled. I was dressed in a silk Shabos kapote (frock coat), with a talis (prayer shawl) and a Chumash under my arm. I realized that I should have changed my clothes, when we were driven away to the train station where we unloaded coal from box cars all day. I was then so naive and I thought to myself: ‘What are they thinking, the Germans? It is today Shabos Rosh Chodesh (the Sabbath of the New Month), we must say Hallel! So where is he taking us?’”
As we usher in Chodesh Adar II, and prepare for the month of geula (Adar) which is followed by another month of geula (Nisan), let us be thankful and praise Hashem for that fact that we can give thanks to Him.
For in each and every generation they arise to destroy us, and yet, there are occasions when the Creator breaches the processes of nature and temporarily suspends the laws of the physical world, and HKB”H saves us from their hands.
As the Israelites stood by the Reed Sea, with the churning waters on the one side and the Egyptian army on the other side, Moshe reassured the terrified nation and declared: התיצבו וראו את ישועת ה׳ – Stand by, do not be afraid, stand by and you will see the salvation of Hashem that He will do for you today (Ex.14:13).
May we merit a month of immense joy for all of Klal Yisrael, b’chol makom she’hem, as we stand by and witness the salvation of Hashem, which surely comes in the blink of an eye.
בברכת חדש טוב ושבת שלום,