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Parshat V'etchanan

Dear STOCS Friend:

The countdown has begun! Today is the tenth of Av which means two months from now, will be Yom Kippur. How should we proceed? We have just concluded the saddest three weeks on the Jewish calendar with Tisha B’av.

During the Kinnot read yesterday, I pointed out that שירה-song appears numerous times. The Talmud teaches us the Leviim were concluding their song of the day when the Roman hordes stopped them midsentence and slew them.

Kinna #6 refers to the Jews who were exiled from Israel and sat by the banks of the Euphrates.

אֵ֗יךְ נָשִׁ֥יר אֶת⁠־שִׁיר⁠ הֹ’ עַ֝֗ל אַדְמַ֥ת נֵכָֽר׃

How shall we sing Hashem's song in a foreign land?

Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky points out that a possible cause of the Churban (destruction) is due to our lackluster and joyless performance of the mitzvot of Hashem.

תַּ֗חַת אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹא⁠־עָבַ֙דְתָּ֙ אֶת⁠⁠ הֹ אֱלֹקיךָ בְּשִׂמְחָ֖ה וּבְט֣וּב לֵבָ֑ב מֵרֹ֖ב כֹּֽל׃

Because you didn't serve Hashem your God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart, due to the abundance of all things.

I have always believed happiness and joy is a state of mind. People choose to be happy or sad, joyful or gloomy, grateful or unappreciative. Every morning upon waking, Modeh Ani is recited, as a sign of recognition Hashem has given a human being another day of life!

Tomorrow, we will read a review of the Ten Commandments, the first reminding the Jew, Hashem took us out of Egypt, the House of Bondage. At Mount Sinai, we became the עם נבחר, the chosen nation of God. We have been granted the opportunity to observe Six Hundred and Thirteen Mitzvot! Imagine how we feel when given a task by a parent or spouse and how excited and pleased we are at its conclusion. Why not have the same sentiment when fulfilling a mitzvah of the Torah?

The Rambam in Hilchot Lulav (8:15) writes:

שהשמחה שישמח אדם בעשיית המצוות ובאהבת האל שציוה בהם, עבודה גדולה היא

The happiness with which a person should rejoice in the fulfillment of the mitzvot and the love of God who commanded them is a great service!

Let us begin our journey to the month of Tishrei filled with joy and happiness. These emotions will assist us in approaching Hashem as we begin to usher in the new year!

I look forward to seeing you in Shul on Shabbas. Together we will rejoice in observing the beauty of the Holy Shabbas.

Rabbi Evan Shore


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