The Waters of Wisdom

מרן הרב אשר וייס

When the Beis HaMikdash stood, Sukkos was celebrated with the Simchas Beis HaShoe’va, “Festival of Water Drawing,” which took place each day of Chol HaMoed in the Beis HaMikdash.  In memory of these joyous festivities, it is customary in many communities today to make a Simchas Beis HaShoe’va, in which we gather together to rejoice…

Finding Meaning in Futility

מרן הרב אשר וייס

R’ Itzele  Peterberger and the Alter of Slobodka, two illustrious students of Rav Yisrael Salanter, once discussed the custom to read Koheles during Chag HaSukkos.  The morbid and fatalistic tone of Koheles, with verses such as, “Futility of futilities!  All is futile!” and “I hated life, for I found evil in everything that occurs under…

Circumventing the Heavenly Tribunal

מרן הרב אשר וייס

  The Yom Kippur service begins with vidui (confession), which is recited before the final meal of erev Yom Kippur, and should ideally be recited again before nightfall.[1]  Vidui is an essential element of teshuva, and therefore a central theme of Yom Kippur, repeated a total of ten times over the course of the day…

The Loyal Slave

מרן הרב אשר וייס

 There is a curious dichotomy in the relationship between Bnei Yisrael and our Creator.  On the one hand, Hashem is our Father, as it is written, “You are children of Hashem your G‑d.”  As such, our relationship is one of filial endearment.  We are privileged to draw close to Hashem in prayer and request anything…

Purim – Behind the Mask

מרן הרב אשר וייס

The Gemara states as follows: אסתר מן התורה מנין? שנאמר "ואנכי הסתר אסתיר פני." What is the source for "Esther" from the Torah?  From the verse, "I will hide (astir) My presence on that day."[1] From here we see that the concealment of Hashem's presence is the central theme of the holiday of Purim.  Pesach,…

Purifying the Heart

מרן הרב אשר וייס

כי המצוה הזאת אשר אנכי מצוך היום לא נפלאת הוא ממך ולא רחקה הוא. לא בשמים הוא לאמר מי יעלה לנו השמימה ויקחה לנו וישמענו אתה ונעשנה. ולא מעבר לים הוא לאמר מי יעבר לנו אל עבר הים ויקחה לנו וישמענו אתה ונעשנה. כי קרוב אליך הדבר מאד בפיך ובלבבך לעשתו. The mitzva that I…

The Journey towards Forgiveness

מרן הרב אשר וייס

During the Chafetz Chaim’s travels through Poland, he once happened across a shul of Chassidei Alexander, where he entered to daven Mincha.  Since it was erev Rosh Chodesh, he wanted to pray the “Yom Kippur Koton” service, which includes special Selichos and Tehillim that are customarily added to the Mincha service of erev Rosh Chodesh,…

A New Beginning

מרן הרב אשר וייס

היום הזה נהיית לעם לה' אלקיך “Today you have become a nation to Hashem your G‑d.”[1] Rashi explains that the word “today” refers not to the specific day on which Moshe delivered this message to Bnei Yisrael.  Rather it means that on each and every day we must feel as if we had just now…

The Eradication of Amalek

מרן הרב אשר וייס

In this week’s parshah, we find the commandment to eradicate any remnant or vestige of Amalek, as the verse states: תמחה את זכר עמלק מתחת השמים לא תשכח Eradicate the vestige of Amalek from beneath the Heavens.  Do not forget.[1] When Sennacherib, King of Assyria, conquered the Middle East, he transferred the people of one…

Was it Not Hashem

מרן הרב אשר וייס

In this week’s parshah we find the commandment to avenge the murderous assault that Amalek made upon our forefathers in the desert: זכור את אשר עשה לך עמלק בדרך בצאתכם ממצרים. אשר קרך בדרך ויזנב בך כל הנחשלים אחריך ואתה עיף ויגע ולא ירא אלקים.  והיה בהניח ה' אלקיך לך מכל איביך מסביב בארץ אשר…