B'YACHAD! - 16

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B'YACHAD - TOGETHER, the Electronic Alumni Newsletter of Ohr Somayach

Issue #16; Tishrei 5759


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  • Transitions in Time and Place
  • News about Ohr Somayach
  • Simchas & Announcements
  • How to contribute to B'Yachad
  • Ohr Somayach Alumni Dinner
  • Subscription Information
  • Ohr Somayach Home Page

  • Transitions in Time and Place;

    The Reality of Elul

    by Rav Nota Schiller

    When I was in high school in New York, one of my classmates had a job with a local caterer whose establishment, though glatt kosher, rented its banquet halls for New Years' celebrations.

    One year this fellow came to us in a quandary. He had been required by his employer to shut off the lights in two separate parties at precisely midnight, signaling everyone to shout "Happy New Year!" The task, however, did not seem feasible. One hall was on the first floor, the other on the fourth, and the elevator was in disrepair. Given the locations of the light switches relative to the stairwell, let alone the arduous climb, it seemed impossible to extinguish the lights simultaneously.

    One of our friends suggested his hiring an assistant, but his already low wage made that impossible.

    I suggested that throughout the evening, approximately every hour, he should advance the clock in the downstairs party five minutes. With all the revelry no one would notice, and at midnight downstairs it would only be a quarter to twelve upstairs, leaving him ample time to move between halls.

    It worked like a charm. The two parties celebrated New Years fifteen minutes apart, and no one knew the difference.

    A few days later my friend came to us, suffering pangs of conscious. These people, he claimed, had been duped. They thought that they had ushered in 1951 at the right moment, but it was actually 1950.

    "Nachum," we told him, "feel at ease." We explained that if time is arbitrary and merely a fiction created by man, what difference does it make? It was 1950. It was 1951. It was the 31st of December. It was the 1st of January. There is no inherent reality, no substance to the difference.

    Is what we said to console him true, however? Is time fictitious? Has it no inherent reality, no substance of its own such that the difference between years bears no tangible lack or gain? In experiencing regret, what did Nachum sense if not time's realness and quantifiable loss?

    Nachum, in fact, personified the Jewish perspective of time. The Jew looks at time as reality. He sees that in crossing from erev Shabbat to Shabbat he is moving toward a new reality, a new state of sovereignty. That transition is as real to him as crossing landscapes and being subjected to new climates and natural resources.

    Environments create their own reality, as do shifts in time. For the Jew, moment is inseparable from circumstance. He relates to time as place.

    There is a question that the Abarbanel asks on the verse, "Until where will they continue to anger me." Why does the verse say "until where?" Expressing a query in time, it should say "until when." Yet the Jew relates to time as if it were space, as if it were a physical zone with its own particular characteristics.

    This time of year the prophet tells us "seek out G-d when he is more readily found." Chodesh Elul, through to Rosh Hashanah and the Aseres Yomei Teshuva, is a new environment in the Jewish year. The reality to which it subjects us is Hashem's increased accessibility, His intensified nearness, and that invites introspection and self-improvement, processes that, while arduous, are as rewarding as the longest continental journey. That internal journey begins with the sense that we have crossed from one reality into another, one ever more tangible and relevant than Nachum's New Years' party.


    A New Service!

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    Simchas & Announcements


    • MR. & MRS. DOVID ROMAND ON THE BAR MITZVAH OF THEIR SON, SHLOMO MEYER
    • MR. & MRS ZALMAN MITTMAN ON THE BIRTH OF A GIRL AND THE BAR MITZVAH OF THEIR SON
    • MR. & MRS. SHLOMO ZALMAN JESSEL ON THE BIRTH OF A SON
    • MR. & MRS SPENCER WOODROW ON THE BIRTH OF A SON
    • MR. & MRS HILLEL BELNICK ON THE BIRTH OF A DAUGHTER, AVIGAL SARA
    • MR. & MRS DAVID WILLIAMS ON THE BIRTH OF A SON, CHAIM MICHAEL
    • MICHAEL AND DELLA TREBLOW ON THEIR WEDDING
    • MR. YONAH ROBERTS & MS. RIVKA WINSTEAD ON THEIR ENGAGEMENT
    • MR. & MRS. RAPHAEL S. LEBAN ON THE BIRTH OF A SON
    • MR. & MRS. JOSH FASS ON THE BIRTH OF A GIRL
    • MR. DAN BENJAMIN & MS. BENITA JATWES ON THEIR ENGAGMENT
    Let's Share Our Simchas TOGETHER with B'Yachad
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    Editor: Raphael Scott Leban
    General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
    Production Design: Eli Ballon
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