Are Boundaries a Worthy Pursuit?

By Elisheva Maline

There was once a city where only the most fabulously wealthy could purchase real estate. When the dust settled after construction, the city council began to station guards all around the city's perimeter so that no stranger could get in. The residents were pretty exclusive, you see.

Now, regardless of whether or not people owe their prosperity to the notion of 95% good luck and 5% brains, if a person's doing well, good luck usually begets more good luck, and the city's citizens continued to amass more money as well as grow increasingly more sentimental about themselves.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world looked on with jealous eyes. No one was allowed a closer peek; anytime someone stepped within the fifty foot diameter between the wall's perimeter and the outside world, they were pushed back by the city's ever watchful guards.

Until one day...

A woodsman, young, impressionable and not, as yet, burdened with the disappointments that only age and experience bring, passed by. While details weren't given on his background or as to how he came to be in that particular spot on that particular date, we can safely assume, based on the formula of most fairy stories, that he was of marriageable age, that he came from a poor background AND that his passing by a city known for the richest of the rich was no coincidence.

And it wasn't.

The young man, having tired of the forest industry (as well as being inspired by an inability to pay his chiropractor on such a meager income), decided to abandon shop and seek out his fortune.

As he strolled past the city's gates, hands stuffed deep in his pockets, he noticed two men gesticulating wildly at one another. They were two guards; the yellow and white stripes, as well as the 23 stars on their uniforms, were frighteningly familiar. Wanting to get a closer look, the young woodsman approached, slipping behind a bush as he came. He noticed that, so engrossed was one of the men in his grievance, he had walked away from his post to shake a fist in the other guy's face.

At this encouraging sight, the young man shot forward, pulling a coil of  rope and a hook out of his sack.

He was up and over the wall in a twinkling.

If you had looked away in the five seconds in took him to scale the wall, you'd never have known the young man was there.

Anyway, the story carried on in the fashion of a classic fairy tale. Happy endings all around.

But the two guards? They got fired.

We, as people and as Jews, each have a personal mission statement in this world. And when we were born, G-d tasked us with achieving it; we do this by manning our individual guard posts.

But what happens when we wander away or get lost? What happens when we imagine that imitating the other guards will get us promotions? Worst of all, what happens when we turn preachy and begin lecturing other people on how to do their jobs?  We've essentially, for however long or short a time, abandoned our personal missions.

When each of us focuses on our personal task i.e. creating G-d awareness in our own unique way, the city i.e. this world, remains tranquil and unmolested. However, if we do abandon our posts, we run the risk of a stranger breaching the walls and wreaking havoc.

How do we begin the process of discovering (or, as the case may be, rediscovering) our personal missions?

Get to know yourself.

A 19th century Hasidic sage, the Kotsker Rav was famous for saying, "If I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you! However, if I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. And then we can schmooze (talk with one another).

The middah (characteristic) of self awareness advocates for learning personal boundaries, which means that, by proxy, you get to know where you end and the next person begins. This is great because then you learn to spot red flags like when you or your friend (or your mom) are overstepping a boundary. You learn to recognize your limitations so that you won't bite off more than you can chew in an effort to prove your worth. You can avoid resentment and passive aggression from warring at your very core; and the dark side of peer pressure will be seen for the monster it is. Codependency will be given up as passe.

Boundaries are good.

Shidduchim According to Halachah - Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

Shidduchim According to Halachah
By
Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
Yoshev Rosh, Vaad Harabbonim of Detroit
It is a mitzvah to arrange a shidduch[1] [colloq: a match] between a man and a woman for the object of matrimony.[2] It is permitted to arrange a shidduch on Shabbos,[3] and if necessary, it is even permitted to discuss the financial arrangements on Shabbos.[4]
        The poskim debate whether or not it is permitted to arrange or promote a shidduch between non-observant Jews who will not observe even the minimum halachic standards of family purity. Some permit doing so only for a professional shadchan whose livelihood depends on making shidduchim, while others do not permit it even in that case.[5] But if the shidduch is made for the purposes of potential kiruv or in order to avoid the tragic alternative of intermarriage, then the shidduch may be proposed and followed through regardless of payment. Even a professional shadchan, howeveris advised by the poskim not to get involved in arranging a marriage between non-Jews.[6]

Question: During the shidduch process, what type of information may or may not be withheld from the other party?
Discussion: It is prohibited for either party in a prospective match to give false information or to withhold pertinent information about themselves.[7] In certain cases, withholding or falsifying information could result in the invalidation of a marriage.[8]
        The poskim give some examples of information that may not be withheld in a prospective match [and which, if withheld, may invalidate a marriage]: serious physical or mental illness,[9] infertility,[10] accurate financial status,[11] lack of religious observance,[12] previous marital status,[13] previous illicit relationships,[14] conversion,[15] adoption.[16]
        One is not required to divulge a deficiency which most people do not consider to be an impediment, such as a minor illness,[17] a physical weakness or a minor blemish in one's lineage.[18] Similarly, it is not required to divulge a transgression in the distant past for which the sinner has repented.[19]
        Since it is often difficult to gauge and judge minor drawbacks versus major deficiencies, a rav must always be consulted.
Question: When being asked for information about a prospective shidduch, what type of information may be shared with others?
Discussion: An individual who is asked for [or is aware of[20]] information about a shidduch must divulge what he knows regarding a “major deficiency,” as detailed above. One who deliberately withholds such information transgresses the prohibition of lifnei iver lo sitein michshol and other Biblical prohibitions.[21]
        Detrimental information about a shidduch may be conveyed only with the proper intention—for the benefit of one of the parties, not in revenge or out of spite. Even then, the information may only be relayed when[22]:
  1. The condition is serious.
  2. The condition has not been exaggerated.
  3. There is a reasonable chance that the information will be accepted and acted upon. If it is likely to be ignored, it is prohibited to relay it.
One who is unsure if a particular point of information is a major deficiency or if the above conditions have been met should consult a rav before divulging or withholding any information.
Question: Is it a requirement to pay a shadchan for his services or is it just proper etiquette?
Discussion: As with any other business transaction, a shadchan must be paid a fee for arranging a shidduch.[23] It makes no difference if the shadchan was engaged by one of the parties or if he volunteered his services or even if the shadchan is non-professional; in all cases the shadchan must be paid for his services.[24] The shadchan may petition a beis din to force the parties to pay his fee.[25]
        The amount to be paid is divided equally between the two sides, even if the shadchanspent more time with one of them.[26] At the shadchan’s discretion, he may charge only one of the parties involved half of the going rate and forgo the other half. He may not, however, charge more than half to one side, even if the other side is poor or for some reason refuses to pay.[27] The shadchan may forgo payment altogether, in which case there is no compelling reason to pay him.[28]
        Although the obligation to pay is the bride’s and groom’s, it has become customary for the parents to pay.[29] In light of this, if the parents fail to pay, some poskim rule there is no obligation for the bride and groom to pay the shadchan.[30]
        If the match is not completed, the shadchan need not be paid, even though he invested a great deal of time and effort in pursuing the match.[31]
        The poskim debate the division of payments in a situation where more than one shadchan is involved, or when the match began with one shadchan and ended with another. Whenever there is a dispute, a rav should be consulted, since there are many details involved and no two cases are alike.
        A shadchan whose fee is outstanding should not be a witness to the marriage ceremony.[32]
Question: Is there a set amount of money that one must pay a shadchan?
Discussion: The amount to be paid to the shadchan is based on the customary local fee.[33] Once the standard fee is agreed upon, the shadchan may not ask for additional compensation to cover special expenses that he may have incurred in arranging the shidduch.
        Our custom is to pay the shadchan immediately after the shidduch is completed.[34] Even if the shidduch is broken later, the shadchan does not have to return his fee[35] as long as he did not give erroneous information which led to the termination of the shidduch.[36]

[1]         The word shidduch is Aramaic for “peaceful” or “tranquil” (see Targum on Sefer Shoftim 3:11), referring to the peacefulness which a woman senses when she finds her match and establishes her home (Ran, Shabbos 12a). Others maintain that the word shidduch means “to bind or tie together” (Aruch).
[2]         Shulchan ha-Eizer 3:1, based on the Midrash RabbahTzav 8:1, that Hashem himself arranges matches. See also Chikrei Lev, C.M. 135.
[3]         O.C. 306:6.
[4]         Ketzos ha-Shulchan 107:8. See Kaf ha-Chayim 306:50 who says that whenever possible, it is best to delay discussing finances until after Shabbos.
[5]         See Teshuvos Meishiv Davar 2:32, Teshuvos Maharam Brisk 1:82 and Yismach Lev, vol. 1, pg. 20, quoting Chazon Ish and Rav C. Kanievsky. See also Igros Moshe, E.H. 4:87-1.
[6]         Be'er Heitev, Y.D. 2:15 and Darchei Teshuvah 154:6, quoting Chavos Yair 185. See also Chelkas Yaakov 1:174.
[7]         Sefer Chasidim 507.
[8]         See Igros Moshe, E.H. 1:79-80.
[9]         E.H. 39:5; Igros Moshe, E.H. 4:73-2.
[10] Otzar ha-Poskim 39:7. See Kehilos Yaakov, Yevamos 38 and ruling of Rav Y.S. Elyashiv (quoted in Nishmas Avraham, vol. 5, pg. 118).
[11] Teshuvos Chasam Sofer, E.H. 72, quoted in Pischei Teshuvah, E.H. 38:14.
[12] Chafetz Chayim, Hilchos Rechilus, Klal 9, tziyur 3:6, 11.
[13] Noda b'Yehudah 2:50, quoted in Pischei Teshuvah, E.H. 39:4.
[14] Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:118; Minchas Yitzchak 3:116. See, however, Maharsham 7:152.
[15] Minchas Yitzchak 7:90; Tzitz Eliezer (quoted in Nishmas Avraham, E.H. pg. 252).
[16] Minchas Yitzchak 5:44.
[17] Such as an ulcer; Rav Y. Zilberstein (Emek Halachah, Asyah, pg. 160).
[18] Chavos Yair 120. See Teshuvos Knei Bosem 1:121 and Nishmas Avraham E.H., pg. 26, for an elaboration. See also Titein Emes l'Yaakov, pg. 85, who quotes a dispute between contemporary poskim as to whether it is permitted to slightly "adjust" the age of bride or groom, such as from age 20 to age 19, etc.
[19]         Minchas Yitzchak 6:139. Such information, therefore, may not be repeated by others when they are asked for information, ibid.
[20]         Tzitz Eliezer 16:4.
[21]         Chafetz Chayim, Hilchos Rechilus, Klal  9:1, tziyur 2:3. See also Pischei Teshuvah, O.C. 156 and Chelkas Yaakov 3:136. See also Practical Medical Halachah, 3rd edition, pg. 166, quoting an oral ruling by Rav M. Feinstein that a disability which may impact negatively on an individual’s functioning as a spouse or as a parent must be revealed.
[22]         Chafetz Chayim, Hilchos Rechilus, Klal 9:2.
[23]         Rama, C.M. 87:39 and 185:10.
[24]         Beiur ha-Gra, ibid. See Teshuvos Maharash Engel 3:15.
[25]         Rama, C.M. 87:39 and 185:10.
[26]         Erech Shai, E.H. 50.
[27]         Beis Yitzchak, E.H. 115; Halichos Yisrael 20.
[28]         Rav Akiva Eiger, C.M. 185; Pischei Teshuvah, E.H. 50:16, who reject the mistaken notion that a shadchan must be paid even if he forgoes his payment.
[29]         Avnei Nezer C.M. 36. See Halichos Yisrael 3.
[30]         Erech Shai C.M. 185. See Yismach Lev, vol. 1, pg. 22, for other opinions.
[31]         Beis Yosef, C.M. 185.
[32]         Otzar ha-Poskim 42:45-15; Rav Y. Kamenetsky (oral ruling, quoted in Apiryon l'Shelomo, pg. 40). See also Yismach Lev, vol. 1, pg. 108, quoting Rav C. Kanievsky.
[33]         Pischei Teshuvah, E.H. 50:16. If there is no clear custom as to the amount a shadchan receives, a rav should be consulted.
[34]         Aruch ha-Shulchan, E.H. 50:42; Beis Yitzchak 1:115; Halichos Yisrael 4; Pischei Choshen, sechirus, pg. 337. When a shadchan does not get paid on time, the Biblical prohibition of delayed payment (bal talin) may apply; see Halichos Yisrael 1-2. See also Yismach Lev, vol. 1, pg. 23, quoting Rav C. Kanievsky
[35]         Aruch ha-Shulchan, E.H. 50:42. But in a locality where the shadchan is customarily paid after the wedding, and the couple in question do not get married, the shadchan does not have to be paid; see Chut Shani, Shabbos, vol. 3, pg. 243.
[36]         Levushei Mordechai C.M. 15, quoted in Pischei Choshen, ibid. See Halichos Yisrael 11, who discusses whether the shadchan should be paid if the shidduch was broken because of information of which the shadchan was unaware.

Part I: What's Your First Thought in the Morning?

By Shoshana Rosa

I have a friend, Debbie, who wears her low self esteem like a moldy old blanket, comfortable but so bad for her respiratory system. If someone had asked her what her daily affirmations were, she'd probably have wheezed all over him. Her personal complex is so deeply ingrained that telling herself she's the best thing that happened since Trump became president would seem like an exercise in futility.

How many of us look at life through the lens of poor self worth? And what methods do we stoop to in order to cope with that mess?

One of my friends (ok, I lied, I'm talking about myself) deals with her low self esteem by keeping herself small in other people's eyes. If they have no expectations, or very few, it keeps the pressure of fear of rejection at bay.  

From the age of thirteen, I've lived with an overwhelming sense of my own inadequacies. Everywhere I looked reflected the hopelessness that was me. Thoughts like, "You're worthless," or "If you died, it would take three days before people noticed, and that would only be because of the stench," or, "You will never find true love," were just a few of the lovely comments that waltzed their merry way through my brain, wreaking holy havoc as they went. 

I didn't have to be going through personal crisis to dig myself six feet under either. A friend of mine could be opening up to me about something or another, like some recent altercation she'd been through with her mother, and all of a sudden I'd be carried off on a wave of, "I couldn't deal with this if I was her. Oh my gosh, I can't deal with anything. I am such a washout." 

These thoughts were often followed by a sudden craving to go to sleep. Or, inhale a bucket of ice cream.

Let me just tell you, people who carry around this ball and chain don't do it for kicks.

And yet, we hold onto it for dear lives.

Why is that?

What drives us to manufacture our own personal brands of misery? And why the heck would any of us choose to be dopy with melancholy when they could be loopy off ecstasy?

Because reactive thinking is almost never based in common sense.

Have you ever tried taking a three year old away from his musty, faded, ratty old yet tried and true security blanket. And then expected him to take it like a man?

I hope not.

I remember a time period when anyone who tried to talk me into thinking differently about my current circumstances drove me into a total panic. Lock me in a closet for three days, cut my legs off, freeze my bank accounts and take away my assets but for the love of all that is holy, please do not try to talk me out of my inner negative beliefs.

It was too scary.

To keep my panic levels down, I came up with a method that would ensure low expectations from everyone I came into contact with. I did this by punctuating every conversation with "I'm not actually so good at this," or "You know, my third grade teacher once called me a nebach (loser) in front of all my classmates," or "My mother used to tell me, 'When you're eighteen, you're out the house.' to which I'd reply, 'Good, eighteen couldn't come soon enough. So, what was your mother like?"

Once I'd ascertained that my friend, or coworker, was squirming because of me and not a sudden drop in the air temperature, I steered the conversation toward sunnier subjects. After all, mission accomplished. The gauntlet was thrown and I could trust this person to never ever rely on me for anything.

So, like my friend Debbie, I'd scoff at anyone who mentioned the word affirmations. That band aid ain't gonna make no headway with this fractured heart. No way. Uh uh. A transplant, maybe, but a band aid? That's just insulting.     

And yet, in a world full of people living lives of quiet desperation, daily affirmations has become a fairly popular phenomenon.

Which is so strange.

Does it really do something for people to repeatedly tell themselves, "I'm awesome," between fifty to five hundred times every day?

That just sounds ridiculous. A complete waste of time.

Right?

Wrong.

Sukkot - Feeling G-d's Hug

When it comes to the Jewish calendar, we have a time and place for all emotions. Elul is a time of deep introspection as we prepare ourselves for the new year, Adar is a time of great excitement and cheer as we celebrate overthrowing that wicked Haman from the Purim story, Av is a time of deep sadness as we mourn the destruction of our Holy Temples and the exile of the Jews from their land. 

Since Tishrei (the month after Elul) is when we have the greatest concentration of holidays, we nickname it, especially in Israel, where, in many areas, there's a greater concentration of Jews in relation to non-Jews, we refer to the month of Tishrei as holiday season. Unlike holidays in America and Europe, where people celebrate by swarming the shops and running from party to party, the cultural flair in the Holy Land is one where people transition from the thoughtful seriousness of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur to the festive camaraderie of Sukkot. 

What do I mean?

During the first ten days of Tishrei, which is when Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur fall out, we work on our individual relationships with G-d, begging Him for a successful happy sweet new year; we make resolutions to improve in certain areas and we commit to living spiritual lives. If you happen to be one of those people rushing to a relative or friends mere hours before Yom Kippur sets in, you'll notice that the streets in certain cities are eerily still; this more than anything demonstrates how serious the day is as people spend the next twenty-five hours analyzing their inner worlds and davening (connecting with G-d in prayer). 

Then, the sun sets the following evening. 

People dry their tears, close their siddurim (prayer books) and immediately set about building sukkot - wooden huts - for Sukkot. What's interesting is that the national mood of Jews everywhere -- especially in Israel where the concentration of Jews is highest -- takes a 180 degree turn as the air fills with the sound of drilling, the rustling of palm fronds and the slap of bamboo boards as people hurry to pull their sukkot together.

For those of us who feel emotion intensely need time to segue from one to another, Sukkot, also know as Zman Simchatanu (a time of great joy) can come as a bit of shock. What happened to the furrowed eyebrows and the sounds of sorrys as people called one another to apologize for past misdeeds?

One of the reasons we call Sukkot a time of great joy is because we leave Yom Kippur feeling like we've been spiritually cleansed and that Hashem (G-d) has forgiven all our sins. In the first blessing of the amidah, we refer to this transition when we call Hashem a מלך, עוזר, מושיע ומגן, a King, a Helper, a Savior and a Shield. By Rosh Hashana, we declare our faithfulness to our sovereign and king, G-d. For the next ten days, called aseret yemei teshuvah - the ten days of repentance, we ask G-d to help us clean up our act and commit to a higher spiritual standing so that we will be written up in the Book of Life. On Yom Kippur, we call out to G-d as a Savior since He alone can rescue us from experiencing hardship and pain. During Sukkot, a time when we expose ourselves to the elements as we sit outside in those flimsy dwellings that we call temporary residences, we declare our aim to put our money where our mouths are. G-d is our shield; we depend on no one but Him. 

By going out of our homes and living in Sukkot, we also acknowledge the transience of this world in relation to G-d's infiniteness. According to kabbalah, the four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot are represented by the four letters of G-d's ineffable name. This name, also known as the tetragrammaton, means that G-d is, He was and He always will be. While we are looked into space and time, He is outside of it. Don't get too attached to materialism, we tell each other and ourselves, everything is temporal, here today, gone tomorrow. The only real thing to concentrate on is G-d and emulating Him. 

By the time we get to Sukkot, hopefully we will have absorbed these lofty ideas. Because, once we do, we will be able to feel G-d's divine providence guiding us through the the maze of life while also providing us with shade from the elements. 

Like the clouds that shielded us during our forty year stint in the desert, we can literally feel G-d's warmth and love surrounding us during the holiday of Sukkot. This is why we also refer to the walls of the Sukkah as a hug. According to halachah, Jewish law, a Sukkah is already considered kosher once it has two and a half walls, the same measurement as that of a person's arms when s/he hugs another.

Chag Sama'ach!    

Yom Kippur - Gettling Married

This post is dedicated in memory of Shlomo ben Aryeh Zalman. May it be an aliyah for his                                                               neshama. By Shoshana Rosa

Growing up, people always told me that the use of anthropomorphic terms for Hashem (G-d) in the Torah, "I will stretch forth My hand and smite the Egyptians..," (Exodus 3:20), "The L-rd descended upon Mt. Sinai, to the peak of the mountain, and the L-rd summoned Moshe to the peak of the mountain, and Moshe ascended" (Exodus 19:20), "And it will be, if you listen to the voice of Hashem i.e. if you obey Him..," (Deuteronomy 28:1), are there as means to help humanity relate to Him. Since we are finite, and G-d is infinite, referring to Him in human terms are the only way we could have an inkling as to Who G-d is.

And anyway, the only reason we know what we know is because He told us.

Recently, a friend of mine gave me an entirely new perspective on this idea.


Did you ever have someone innocently drop an information bomb in the midst of casual conversation? It was like that.

My friend mentioned, oh so casually, while we were discussing something truly banal -- the best way to roast marshmallows (over a bonfire or by the gas range at home; the argument was ease versus taste) -- that at the end of the day, things like that didn't matter since we weren't real. "Don't get me wrong," she added. "I love roasted marshmallows but there's no point in getting caught up with petty details if we don't actually exist."

Come again? Where on earth did that come from?

Taken aback at the sudden turn of conversation, I didn't immediately respond.

"The Torah describes G-d in human terms, right?" she tried to explain. "Various places in the Torah describes G-d as having a hand, a voice etc. We think that they're there as something for humans to hook into since the question of who and what G-d is is impossible to grasp on its own. Really, the opposite is true. G-d has all those things that humans have AND, to give us something to hook into, He created us with those things so that we could relate to Him through them. G-d has hands so we have hands. G-d has a voice so we have voices.  G-d uses His hands to do kindness to His creations; so too, we emulate Him by using our hands to do kind acts for one another. G-d uses His voice to teach His ways and His Torah -- we are meant to do the same.

"In the same vein, the relationships that all of us share, whether it be with our parents, spouses or friends, were all created so that we could relate to G-d on those terms because He encompasses all of them.

"But," my friend finished, "even with all that, G-d is impossible to grasp. He is infinite and we, with our limited understanding, cannot fathom what that means.

We, our lives, are a parable. G-d is the real thing. And that's why, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter where we eat the marshmallows or how they taste off a stick or fork. It just doesn't matter." And with that, my friend got up and left the room.

What did this topic have to do with marshmallows? Nothing, nothing at all. It was a non sequitur, I decided.

Either that or she changed the subject because I was winning the marshmallow debate.

In any case, I decided to let it and the existential angst of "What is this life all about?" and "What's my significance in the cosmic plan of the universe?" go as I I hunkered down for the next few weeks to mull over the idea.

And if you don't get it, don't worry. I still don't get it. I'm not sure we're supposed to.

However, the reason I brought it up is because the above idea helped me find the following concept extremely compelling.

In a lecture on the months of Elul and Tishrei i.e. preparation for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana (The Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) as well as the High Holy Days themselves, Rabbi YY Jacobson draws a parallel between the Jewish nation's relationship with G-d  and the blossoming of a relationship between a man and his soon to be betrothed.

The month of Elul is the month of courtship. It's when G-d is referred to as the king in the field. Somehow, he is extra close in the hopes of getting to know us better.

Erev Rosh Hashana, the night of Rosh Hashana, G-d proposes. How? The Gemara it tells us that G-d asks the Jews to, "Make me a king and I will rule over you."

After listening to my friend's piece and after coming to terms with the puniness of humanity, the weakness of our ability to grasp concepts that are beyond the scope of our understanding, I hear that the King of the Universe is condescending to ask us?! Asking us like we have some sort of a say in the matter? Asking us as if our answer will make any difference?

I was gobsmacked.

I was further astonished when Rabbi YY added that the Jewish nation's response was, "G-d, I need to think about Your proposal. I'm not sure I'm ready to marry you. I'm not even sure I want to. I need time."

This is where the idea of free will steps in. We have to choose to be G-d's nation. He can't force us to listen to Him; it would totally negate the idea of picking right. And so, the first night of Rosh Hashana (it's a two day holiday) has a certain frailty to it. The universe is hanging in the balance; it has a question mark on it -- will they or won't they? Everything depends on this relationship.

And so, the universe waits with bated breath for the Jews to come back with an answer.

They do.

The next day, the Jewish people acquiesce by blowing the shofar.

What's shofar got to do with it?

The three types of sounds that the shofar emits represent the different stages of a relationship. The tekiyah, as the first sound. is one long blast that connotes clarity, understanding and joy. The second, the shevarim, represents moments of brokenness, moaning and pain. The third, teruah, has the sound of hiccups and sobbing. It expresses a deep and powerful sadness. The second and third shofar blasts are followed by another tekiyah, a longer one, which is a declaration that a relationship is made stronger with experiencing the second and third stages of challenges together.

Next, Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, is called the wedding ceremony since it parallels the day the Jewish nation accepted the second set of Luchot Habrit (the stone tablets bearing the Ten Commandments). We have a custom to come to services in white as a nod to brides everywhere. And the reason Yom Kippur is considered the Shabbos of Shabboses as well as the holiest day of the year is because it is when G-d forgives our previous infidelity with the giving of the first set of luchot and gives us a chance to turn a new leaf.
     
With all this in mind, I hope you have a wonderful Yom Kippur. May you be blessed with a year of joy and fulfillment.

Yashar LaChayal

The majesty of the Western Wall

Nefesh B'Nefesh