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VA-'EIRA' 5782

12/31/2021 02:10:47 PM


Our parasha begins with the 5 verbs of redemption, describing how HaShem will bring the people into the Land of Israel. Actually, I had been hoping to write these lines from a house in Jerusalem, as my son and I had plans to be spending this week in the holy city. Indeed, doesn’t it say in Psalm 87:2, that Hashem loves the gates of Zion (‘ohev HaShem sha`arei tsion) more than any other place where the Jews might be.

Unfortunately, the Israeli gov’t had other plans.  They had decreed, and rightfully so, that due to Omicron, entrance to the Land is restricted to holders of Israeli passports. Nevertheless, a few verses later (87:6) we read HaShem yispor bikhtov `amim, interpreted by Rashi that the time will come when HaShem will count those of His people who are living among the nations, and bring us to the Land.

There are some Jews who will not wish one another a “happy new year” on January 1, as we know that our New Year is Rosh HaShanah. However, if you translate that verse 87:6 literally, as “HaShem will count in the register of peoples,” you could say that since we Jews live and interact in the world, it is perfectly alright to wish one another a Happy New Year on January 1.

And, indeed, it is known that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, following the lead of Rabbi Levi Yitschak of Berditchev, [18th century, one of the first Hasidic rebbes] and of other chasidic leaders, would occasionally wish a “happy New year” to a follower on January 1.

For, according to Rav Levi Yitschak, when HaShem looks out at the world and sees how the nations of the world drink until inebriated on New Years Eve, and then recalls how the Jewish people celebrated our New Year, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, with prayer and fasting and repentance, He smiles and says mi ke`ammekha yisrael, "who is like your people Israel:" we certainly deserve a blessing for health and happiness.

And so...may you all have a happy and healthy Year.  And, of course, try to keep away from Omicron.

Shabbat shalom

Mon, June 27 2022 28 Sivan 5782