Friday September 30, 2022 – Tishrei 5, 5783
Torah Portion Vayelech
Candle lighting in Montreal – 6:18 pm
Yom Kippur: Tues night fast begins & candle lighting 6:10 pm. Fast ends 7:11 pm
This entry is a bit longer than usual, but you will understand why when you read it. It’s amazing - when you least expect it, a moment of inspiration can envelope you. Such was the case this Rosh Hashanah.
In our shul we have no ‘official’ chazan. Meaning there is no long drawn out singing by one person. Our tunes are known and sung by the entire congregation. It’s like one big hootenanny with everyone clapping and really getting into the singing which of course is connected to the prayers.
Truthfully, that is what drew me to Chabad and Judaism in the first place. Soulful melodies touch and warm the soul.
Rosh Hashanah davening is divided into Shacharis or the morning service, then the Torah reading and then Musaf. As such, the two young men who were leading the services took turns on the bimah.
Rabbi Levi New led Shacharis on the second day. He is blessed with a number of sons, three of whom are his own personal choir when he is leading the services. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, he asked not only his sons, but four sons of a baal teshuva couple to join and help him daven. It was a crowded bimah with all the boys surrounding Rabbi Levi, but it energized the entire congregation.
During one song, the four sons of the baal teshuva couple were totally immersed in the davening and singing. Everyone watched as they sang their hearts out – clapping and jumping arm in arm with each other. I was watching them, as were many of the other women present and it dawned on all of us what was really happening.
These boys came from a couple who decided, after they were married, to be observant Jews. As Hashem directs our steps, they bought a house right beside the MTC – our synagogue. It took them a few years to have children, but once they started, their children, Baruch Hashem, multiplied quickly, including a set of identical, red-headed twins.
As we were watching the boys singing, I looked up and saw their mother sitting upstairs in the women’s section, quietly watching her sons enveloped in the davening. I realized what we were witnessing. I realized that this was one of those moments when Hashem allows us to see revealed blessings.
At that moment I understood yet again, that it is the mother who is the essence of the home. Yes, her husband is very involved in the lives of his children, but nobody worries like a mother for her children. For a moment, Hashem allowed a ray of light to shine upon her.
The Lesson from the Torah Portion
This week’s Torah portion is, as always, connected to what happened this week.
The Parsha concludes with the prediction that the people of Israel will turn away from their covenant with G‑d, causing Him to hide His face from them, but also with the promise that the words of the Torah “shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their descendants”. And that is exactly what happened during Rosh Hashanah.
Kabbalah teaches us that when we hear the sound of the shofar, we are reconnecting to the moment when Hashem breathed life into man.
And just as the tekiah sound is strong, unbroken and pure, so were her children at that moment. Our soul hears the shofar - the part of our souls that are pure - whether we are adults or children, whether we are observant or not. I was able to witness, as was their mother, the pure souls of these children radiating light upon the entire room.
After that part of the service, I went upstairs to tell her how moved I was from what I witnessed. I didn’t realize how emotional I was until I got to her. We both wept. Two Jewish mothers – one young, one older – crying for the same thing – that our children continue to be proud Jews, that our children continue to carry the torch.
Children are the link in the chain of the Jewish people. Jewish mothers are the ones who keep those links connected to Hashem.
I told this young woman that whatever she was doing – keep doing it. That she may get aggravated sometimes, but she was able to see with her own eyes that when we don’t give up, there are times when we get to see, if only for a fleeting moment, the reward of our labor.
It was out of the mouths of her children, the descendants of our patriarchs and matriarchs, that the Torah will not be forgotten.
Jewish women are strong and determined, the keepers of our homes. We set the tone. I often say that if we really knew how important we are in the lives of our families, we would wilt from the responsibility.
Hashem made us a light unto the nations. The last thing He created, the crown of creation is the woman. Never, ever underestimate your influence. Not on your family or your friends or the wider community. You never know when a word or gesture will make a difference in someone’s life. How much more so when it comes from our children.