Thursday, September 25, 2008

Question & Answer With Rabbi Micha Golshevsky - Limiting Speech On Rosh Hashana

A Simple Jew asks:

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov gave the following advice regarding Rosh Hashana:

"On the first day of Rosh Hashana people should be very careful to speak as little as possible. The greater the person the more careful he must be."

With a wife and three small children, if I spoke very little during yom tov my family might think something was wrong or that I was mad with them. How would you advise that I fulfill Rebbe Nachman's advice on my level?

Rabbi Micha Golshevsky answers:

The general rule is to do what you can. Don't lose track of the main thing by focusing on non-essential "inyanim" especially at your wife and family's expense.

There is a famous story: Someone once saw the Kotzker Rebbe eating nuts on Rosh Hashana and was very surprised since many have a custom not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashana. He asked: "The Rema brings that the Hebrew word for nut "egoz" has a gemartria of 17, the same as sin "cheit". So how can the Rebbe eat them?" [This works by either adding the kolllel for egoz, or by writing cheit as ches/tes without the final alef. It is brought down both ways.]

The Rebbe replied with characteristic sharpness:"Don't forget that 'sin' is also the gematria of the word 'sin'!"

I believe that this simple but compelling lesson can be applied here as well. The main avodah on Rosh Hashana is to be happy and not to get angry since this is a siman for the entire year, as Rebbe Nachman emphasizes so beautifully in Sichos HaRan. This concept is in many sources and poskim as well.

There is another reason for this practice: On Rosh Hashana we begin the process of atonement by crowning Hashem as our King. What kind of Jew could be unhappy at such a precious time?

Anger or dissatisfaction shows that we lack true perspective of what is happening on this special day and (you guessed it!) is a sure sign that it is time to make a new beginning. As you know, it is never, ever too late.

Just as we must all refrain from anger or sadness we must also avoid doing anything that will cause such feelings in anyone else, especially our family.

It follows that if this inyan causes your family distress then you must definitely speak. But speak joyously and and remember the somber yet ecstatic character of this holy yom tov with all your might.

At times when it will not effect your family you can limit your speech -- but only if remaining silent does not cause you distress. If it does, then this inyan is not (yet) for you.

Hashem should help us truly "crown Hashem alone as our King" with our thoughts, speech, and deeds throughout the coming year!


At September 25, 2008 at 8:59:00 PM EDT, Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you, Rabbi Micha, for this holy teaching. I will remember it.

Shana Tova to the Golshevsky family.

At October 2, 2008 at 5:14:00 PM EDT, Blogger yaak said...

I've done the quasi-Ta'anit Dibur thing when I was single in Yeshiva (I'm not a Breslover - it was a somewhat-common practice in the Litvak yeshiva I attended), but abandoned it since I got married - it was and remains way too difficult, and as the rabbi suggests - yotzei secharo behefseido.


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