The opening passuk of the parsha is “You all stand today before Hashem”. The sefarim write that this passuk alludes to the day of Rosh Hashanah for we always read this parsha on the week preceding Rosh Hashanah. The Zohar also concurs with this idea. This is the day when all peoples of the world pass before Hashem in judgment. The Baal Haturim on these words comments that the word נצביםconnects to the same root word found by Matan Torahויתיצבו בתחתית ההר that Am Yisrael stood by Har Sinai. What is the meaning of this connection between Rosh Hashanah and Matan Torah?
With a simplistic understanding they relate to each other by a shofar blowing in both events. By Har Sinai it says (Shmos 19,19;20,15) ויהי קול השופר הולך וחזק מאד and Rosh Hashanah is called יום תרועה a day of shofar blowing. However in a deeper level we must strive to understand what is the inner meaning of these two events that they share the shofar?
The entire miraculous display of Hashem’s revelation that occurred at Matan Torah was for the purpose and that is to acquire the midda of busha embarrassment. As the passuk states (Shmos 20,17) ובעבור תהיה יראתו על פניהם לבלתי תחטאו in order that the fear of Hashem should appear on your faces causing you not to sin. What is the nature of fear on your faces? The gemarah in Nedarim 20 explains that it is this middah of busha.
תניא בעבור תהיה יראתו על פניכם זו בושה לבלתי תחטאו מלמד שהבושה מביאה לידי יראת חטא מיכן אמרו סימן יפה באדם שהוא ביישן אחרים אומרים כל אדם המתבייש לא במהרה הוא חוטא ומי שאין לו בושת פנים בידוע שלא עמדו אבותיו על הר סיני
The first natural reaction of Adam and Chava after eating from the Aitz Hadaas was embarrassment ויתבששו Rashi comments that the feeling of shame came from their realization that they sinned. From this moment onwards the middah of busha would be utilized to prevent one from sinning. The gematriah of עבירה וחטא with the two words equals בושה. The embarrassment experienced from being caught in the act of sin protects one from committing the sin in the first place.
The experience of shame after the aveirah also helps to cause forgiveness (Berachos 12b). The Maharal explains that by having busha one totally removes himself from his shortcoming. For the embarrassment over an act one should not have done, distances one from the act to the point that he receives forgiveness.
The blowing of the shofar is associated with this middah of busha. Firstly, when one blows the shofar his face turns red symbolizing this middah of embarrassment. The physical shape of the shofar must be bent to demonstrate the state of one who is embarrassed possessing the stature of being bent over and humbled.
Secondly, there are many acronyms that testify to this relationship such as תקעו בחודש שופר which are the letters of בשת embarrassment, בחצוצרות וקול שופר הריעו which are the letters בושה.
Thirdly, the shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah which corresponds to the day Man was created, alludes to the moment when Hashem blew within man his neshamah which imbued the human body with a likeness to G-d. ויפח באפיו נשמת חיים ויהי האדם. Hashem blew within man a living soul and man was. If one adds the end letters and the beginning letters of this phrase including the six words he will arrive at the word שופר. This teaches that the source for blowing shofar on Rosh Hashanah is here. It is only because of this spiritual component within man, does he become naturally embarrassed when doing an immoral act or crossing a boundary which are contrary to his neshama’s doctrine. This is hinted in the end letters of ויפח באפיו נשמת חיים ויהי האדם. They spell out the wordתחומים which means boundaries. It is the neshamah that sets the boundaries that should not be crossed. Yet when it is unsuccessful in this endeavor for its reins cannot restrain the physical cravings of the body, it then triggers the alarm of involuntary embarrassment to protect against further breaches of trespassing and to rectify the past. So we see that the blowing of the shofar is coupled with the reaction to busha.
Fourthly, the mitzvah of blowing shofar on Rosh Hashanah is in order to coronate Hashem as the King as the gemarrah saysאמרו לפני מלכויות כדי שתמליכוני עליכם ובמה בשופר (Rosh Hashanah 34b). Being empowered with the ability to coronate Hashem as king, causes one to be overwhelmed with the busha of greater intensity called כלם (Shaarei Teshuva 1,22). This is hinted in its letters which are identical to the word מלך king. For by realizing that we coronate His Majesty Hashem on Rosh Hashanah as the Supreme Being of the entire universe, one cannot help being overcome with busha from his past rebellious deeds against the very One towards whom he has just pledged his total allegiance to. This concept is also hinted in the gematriah ofמלכות(496) which is equal toיראה על הפנים (496) which as above was explained to be busha.
The Shem Mishmuel writes (Rosh Hashanah 671) that this experience of busha always happens following the event when Yisrael are brought closer to Hashem. Even by Adam Harishon we find this scenario. For when Adam heard the voice of Hashem in Gan Eden he hid himself from embarrassment of his sin. So too on Rosh Hashanah as we coronate Hashem through the mitzvah of shofar, we become embarrassed and ashamed which is symbolized in the character sounds of the shofar which allude to crying and weeping.
This is the meaning of the verse (Tehillim 81,4) תקעו בחודש שופר בכסה ליום חגינו. We are commanded to blow shofar on Rosh Hashanah which falls on Rosh Chodesh when the moon is in a state of embarrassment as if it is covering its face from shame. For the moon questioned Hashem’s logic in creation of the two luminaries and it was hence punished with a diminished light (Chullin 60b). Am Yisrael looks to the moon and counts their calendar according to its cycle. It is from the moon that we must learn to be embarrassed from our own deeds and misconduct. For there is no one making an honest self introspection who will escape the finding of shortcomings and what to be embarrassed about. Rosh Hashanah and the blowing of the shofar falls out intentionally on Rosh Chodesh when the moon is at its highest degree of embarrassment and its face is completely in hiding. This sends to us the message that we too should be well aware that coronating Hashem as the king is a great honor and privilege but with it comes the busha from our past deeds and the feelings of unworthiness both of which will also serve as a protection from future aveiros.
This busha causes a Yom Tov just like we find that Rosh Chodesh is called a Moed because of the busha (Iyuv 5,11). Hashem resides by the low and oppressed (Yeshaya 59,15). This is the message of the ending part of the passuk בכסה ליום חגנו. Granted, that the blowing of the shofar on the day of Rosh Chodesh arouses busha and the realization of one’s impoverishment of merits. Nevertheless, Rosh Hashanah is called יום חגנו a holiday, as Ezra tells Am Yisrael that today Rosh Hashanah is not a day of sadness but rather delight to eat and be merry (Nechemya 8,10). It is the subjugation to Hashem that causes further closeness to Him which leads to immense joy.
According to the Shem Mishmuel’s interpretation we can understand the sounds of the shofar. Every sound of teruah must be preceded and followed by a tekiah sound. As we said before the teruah symbolizes the crying and shame we feel the sense of fragmentation and distance from Hashem due from our transgressions. The tekiah in contrast represents our connection and closeness to Hashem. The tekiahs are derived from Yovel the 50th year that follows the 49 year Shemittah cycle. Yovel creates a supernatural connection with Hashem. Thus initially when we approach to fulfill te mitzvah of coronating Hashem we are experience an elevation being given the opportunity to crown Hashem on Rosh Hashanah. This is symbolized by the tekiah sound. Immediately following we experience the unworthiness of our lives as servants of the king of all kings which causes total subjugation and bittul which is symbolized by the teruah. This is followed with a second sound of tekiah which heralds our deeper connection with Hashem which brings to joy and elation.
Now we can understand the connection between Rosh Hashanah and Matan Torah as presented to us by the Baal Haturim. The revelation of Hashem at Matan Torah was for Am Yisrael to gain the middah of embarrassment before Hashem in order not to sin. This is hinted by the resounding voice of the shofar which causes יראה as the passuk says (Amos 3,6) אם יתקע שופר בעיר ועם לא יחרדו? So too Rosh Hashanah when we also blow shofar in crowning Hashem as King we should also be blown away with yirah and busha.
Our cultures try its utmost 24/7 to eradicate this middah of embarrassment from society. They have succeeded in stripping away from man his dignity and honor so as the animal he doesn’t blush anymore for what was once inappropriate of even despicable conduct. Without busha there is no regret, remorse, and accountability for one’s actions. When I grew up parents would remark to their children for chutzpah and unacceptable behavior with the line “Aren’t you embarrassed?” Without busha every perverted behavior soon becomes acceptable leaving nothing that is not deemed the norm. The media and the internet has taken the divine out of Man and without any inhibitions displays human flesh as an object to use for one’s bodily pleasure with the flick of a button. Without the feelings of guilt we are left with only the ability to destroy and never to rebuild what we have torn down.
This above scenario cannot and does not apply baruch Hashem to Am Yisrael. We begin the tefillah of Selichos with the words לך ה’ צדקה ולנו בושת הפנים To you Hashem is righteousness and we possess the faces of shame. If we do not sense embarrassment or remorse for our actions then there is no point to plead from Hashem to grant forgiveness for violating Hashem’s mitzvos?
The purpose of the world is hinted in the first word of the Torah בראשית. Chazal write that this first word of revelation refers to Am Yisrael who are called ראשית. What is the nature of this people for whom the entire universe was created? The Tikunei Zohar says that it hints to the two words of ירא בשת the middah of embarrassment. While the world of bodies belittles this trait and attempts to make it extinct, we Klal Yisrael raise it on the greatest pedestal priding ourselves with this sacred nature of neshamah. Bereishis! First and foremost! אשמנו בגדנו , על חטא שחטאנו, השיבנו סלח לנו.
With the power of בושה we Yisrael have the hope of שובהof a new בראשית beginning. Our shofar blowing is the call for בראשית, renewal and tikkun by truly crowning Hashem as our King. With this we can understand the incredible gematriah that .בראשית is equal to the passuk concerning shofar at Matan Torah קול השופר הולך וחזק including the four words (913). May our sensitivities of our neshama, in regards to our reactions that veer from the emes ever slightly, increasingly grow and dominate us so that we should merit the hearing of the grand shofar of Moshiach Tzidkainu.
אתם נצבים היום ויתיצבו תחתית ההר
Wishing everyone a kesivah vechasimah tova