Rosh Hashanah 5779

Will you be judged like sheep, steps, or soldiers?[1]

ונתנה תקף קדשת היום כי הוא נורא ואים וכו’ וכל באי עולם יעברון לפניך כבני מרון
Unesaneh Sokef, let us relate the might of the holiness of this day, as it is astonishing and powerful…all of the word’s inhabitants will pass before You like benei maron[2]

Our Sages teach us[3] that on Rosh Hashanah, every individual on Earth passes before Hashem for judgement, like benei maron. What does benei maron mean? The gemarra provides[4] three explanations: like a flock of sheep[5], like the steps of the House of Maron, or like the soldiers of King David. A flock a sheep refers to when a shepherd wants to count his sheep, he counts them one-by-one as they pass through a narrow entrance[6]. The steps of the House of Maron was a narrow path that not even two people could walk up side-by-side[7]. The soldiers of King David’s army would be counted one-by-one as they went out to wage war[8]. These three explanations seem to all be saying the same thing: Hashem judges every individual on Rosh Hashanah one after the other. There are two obvious questions on this teaching: Why does there need to be a parable of benei maron? Just teach simply that Hashem judges each individual one-by-one. Further, why is this even so? Surely, it’s not beyond Hashem’s capabilities to judge every individual simultaneously. Why indeed is it done one after the other?

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Toldos 5778

The way of tzaddikim; the way of the Torah[1]

ועתה שא-נא כליך תליך וקשתך וצא השדה וצודה לי ציד
Now, please carry your vessels, your sword[2], and your bow; go out to the field and capture me some game[3]

Once Yitzchak approached the age that his mother was when she passed, he felt it was time to settle his affairs[4]. He decided to give incredibly powerful berachos, blessings, to his favorite son Eisav. However, to get into the proper state of mind to give these blessings, Yitzchak wanted to have a meal made up of his favorite delicacies. Eisav was an expert trapper[5]. So before receiving these blessings, Yitzchak sent him on a hunting mission. He told Eisav to take his instruments with him and go. Rashi is bothered[6] that one doesn’t need to tell an expert hunter to take along his weapons, just like a plumber doesn’t need to be told to bring his wrench[7]. Therefore, he interprets[8] the command שא-נא, literally please carry, as השחזה, sharpen. Yitzchak was telling Eisav to sharpen his knives. Why? Yitzchak was worried that when Eisav did shechitah, ritual slaughter on the animals he catches, the knife might have a blemish which would go unnoticed. Slaughtering with this knife would render the food forbidden to eat[9].

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