|Zeev Hatorah-Eikev-How To Improve One's Hearing|
|Written by Rabbi Shmuel Brazil|
Vahaya aikev tishmeoon. All one has to do is to listen and hear. Vhaya eem shamoah tishmeoo el mitzvosai. The Sefas Emes explains that the double terminology of hearing sends the message
all one has to do is to hear what he is already hearing. His neshama speaks to him all the time. He only has to let himself fully hear its message.
Here is a funny story about hearing. A Yid comes to his Rav seeking help. “I need you to daven for my hearing” he tells the Rav. His Rav puts his fingers on the Yid’s ears and davens and davens. When he is done he asks “How’s your hearing now?” “I don’t know,” the Yid replies, “I don’t go to court till next Tuesday.”
It is a funny story for a goy and it might even cause him to give a big chuckle. However, for the Yid this play on words has a much deeper meaning as the Yemai Hadin approach and it sends a very serious message. On Rosh Hashanah we are commanded to listen to the kol of the shofar. It is the day of our hearing in front of the Judge of Judges that will determine what will be the future of our lives, health, parnassah, births and death and even the amount of siyata dishmaya that we will receive. Yet our Chazal tell us that the outcome of our hearing depends upon the depth of our hearing of the kol shofar. What does one hearing have to do with the other?
We could answer this with the writings of the Yismach Yisrael describing the meaning of sounds of the shofar. First we blow a tekiah which is a straight sound followed by a shevarim which is a broken sound of three blasts and further followed by a teruah which sounds like machine gun fire. This all ends with a repeat of a tekiah. Our Chazal describe these sounds to hint to the different states of a healthy person falling suddenly ill. The healthy state is described as a tekia – straight without any breakage. The shevarim symbolizes the sick state “genuchai ganach” when one groans from pain. The sound of the teruah is called “yelalah” wailing which symbolizes the state of death when one has succumbed unfortunately to his illness and relatives cry and mourn over his demise.
The body that gets sick has its parallel in the world of neshamah as well and it is called choli hanefesh. The tekiah represents the healthy person who performs mitzvos, learns Torah, and works on correcting the bad middos that he possesses. Over time that he fails to do so he becomes a spiritually sick individual and his nefesh groans that it is in such a state of vacuum. If the person persists in listening and obeying the cravings of his body alone at the expense of his nefesh, then he reaches a state of spiritual death as our Chazal say Reshaim even during their lives are called dead. However is the spiritual parallel there is an immediate ending tekiah which brings a person back to his original healthy state. This turnaround is called teshuvah. Hashem wants teshuvah even from the rashah as the passuk says ki lo sachpotz bemos hamais kee eem behsuvo vachai. Physical death must wait for resurrection of the dead in order to return to the final tekiah. Not so with spiritual death. We can access that ending tekiah immediately if our teshuva is committed and sincere.
With this understanding the Yismach Yisrael goes on to explain the gemara in Rosh Hashana that the avodah of the day is to recite pesukim of Malchuyos before Hashem with the shofar. This statement is very perplexing. If we are to recite the pesukim of malchuyos, then it not with the shofar, but rather with our mouths? He answers that the intention of the words of Chazal is the following. A person stands before Hashem on the Day of Judgement and is requested to recite pessukim of accepting Hashem’s kingship upon himself. How can a person face the truth of his own reality of being lax in Torah observance and control of his middos while the next moment accept Hashem’s yoke and sovereignty upon himself. It’s a paradox and a self deception. It is like being trapped and hypocritical. How then can Hashem who knows that we have sinned even demand such a mitzvah from us?
To this dilemma the words of our Chazal direct the answer. They themselves ask with what? With what advise can the sinner come before Hashem and honestly say these pesukim of accepting His yoke of Torah and mitzvos and still not feel like a hypocrite? The answer is with sounds of the shofar. For if one understands the symbolism of the these sounds which teach that even if one allows himself to sink to such a nadir where he becomes spiritually dead, nevertheless this state can be immediately followed by a tekiah with the power of sincere tehsuva. This insight will propel him to gather the courage and the inspiration to go ahead and accept upon himself the yoke of Hashem’s kingdom and he to be His servant, all with a renewed fervor and dedication.