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Sunday, September 24, 2017 4 Tishrei 5778


The first Lubavitch/Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the Tanya and Code of Jewish Law, once remarked that a Jew must "live with the times." His son explained the meaning: A Jew must live with the Torah portion of the week - i.e., he must assimilate the lessons of the weekly Torah portion
The Uprooting Shofar
The weekly Torah Portion Nitzavim is always read on the Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah.
The Torah portion begins, “You are standing firmly today, all of you together before G-d your G-d…” According to the Zohar, the word “today” in this context refers to Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment.
The Torah is thus saying that we should be confident that we will stand firmly before G-d and receive a victorious judgment on this day.
A second connection is in the verse that states, “Perhaps among you there is a person (growing in wickedness like) a root that is sprouting (bitter herbs, like) hemlock and wormwood…”
Commentators have observed that the initials of the four Hebrew words shoresh, porah, rosh, v’la’anah (root, sprouting, hemlock and wormwood) form the word Shofar. This conveys the message that the sounding of the Shofar can help even one who has sunk so low that he has become like a poisonous and bitter root.
These two allusions to Rosh Hashanah nicely complement each other. How does one become confident that he will stand firm and be victorious on Rosh Hashanah? The answer is through the sounding of the Shofar.
We must however try to understand why the Mitzvah of Shofar is hinted specifically in the words that discuss a poisonous root. What precisely is the root of evil and how is it ameliorated by the Shofar?
One way of interpreting the root of evil is by considering the role of thought as opposed to speech and action. Speech, and to a greater extent action, are external phenomena; they project our personalities outward, whereas thought is an internal expression of our feelings and ideas to ourselves.
This explains why the Alter Rebbe states in Tanya that harboring negative thoughts of another is worse than speaking those negative thoughts aloud.
When we act or speak wrongly it has an impact on the world outside of us because these powers are directed outwards. However, thought has the inverse effect. While it cannot wreak as much havoc on others because it is hidden, thought has a much greater damaging effect on the person who knowingly and intentionally harbors those negative thoughts.
The root of evil refers to the negative thoughts we may harbor. While it is relatively easy to correct our actions and words, it is extremely difficult to change our corrupted thought patterns. They are far more damaging to our souls and therefore require a much more intense form of repentance.
We can now understand why the Torah alludes to the Shofar of Rosh Hashanah precisely in the section of the Torah that discusses the poisonous roots of evil.
By linking the Shofar to poisonous roots, the Torah is actually telling us what is needed to expunge the most insidious root forms of evil. The sound of the Shofar represents the primal cry that emanates from the deepest and most hidden parts of our souls. It is the very source (shoresh in Hebrew) and root of our entire being. It reaches deeply into our psyche, reaches the core and then corrects it, polishes it and transforms it. Similarly, the Great Shofar that G-d sounds in the moments leading to the Final Redemption will reach into and uproot the evil, dealing it a fatal blow.
Our role in this process is to hear the sound of the Rosh Hashanah shofar, the micro version of G-d’s Great Shofar, while searching deeply into our souls to find the essential G-dly spark that lies at their cores. This will vanquish the root and core of evil; a root for a root.
We will then certainly stand firmly before G-d our G-d and we will be inscribed and sealed by Him with a good and sweet year; and most importantly, we will be blessed with a year of genuine and complete Redemption by our righteous Moshiach!

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