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Parshat Vayeishev December 20, 2008 23 Kislev, 5769


A Weekly Discussion about the Fundamentals of Jewish Prayer By Rabbi Brahm Weinberg – Rabbinic Intern
Artscroll, 198
Hertz, 141 This inspiring article level of kavana would be to Tosafot (Brachot 13a), think
about tefillah is also be focused on the that shma is no different than
Haftorah sponsored by David and meaning of the mitzvah. any other mitzvah and simply
Artscroll, 1142 Diane Rein in memory of The Shulchan requires a recognition that you
Hertz, 152 Diane’s mother, Aruch, the Code of Jewish are reading it to fulfill your
Mevorchim Chodesh Helene M. Fink z”l. Law rules that in regard to Torah obligation.
Tevet, Molad 12/27 most mitzvoth of the Torah The Rashba, Rabbi
4:10:16 pm Issue # 25 – Kriat Shma we must have just the very Solomon ben Aderet, as well
Rosh Chodesh (Part V) basic level of kavana to as other students of Rabbenu
Shabbat & Sunday
fulfill our obligation. In Yona (Brachot 13a) were
In last week’s contrast, for the first two probably the first to explicitly
Tefilla Digest article we lines of the shma, we are put forth such an argument for
Candle lighting 4:11 pm began to discuss the very required to not only recite it dual kavana in the 13th century
Mincha 4:15 pm important idea of with the intent to fulfill our in Spain although it is possible
“mitzvoth tzrichot mitzvah but also to have an that the Rambam holds like
Hashkama 8:00 am
Minyan kavana” of the intention even greater level of kavana this as well.
or kavana necessary which is not required in They single out the
Parsha Shiur 8:30 am
when performing Torah other realms: One must be shma as a unique mitzvah that
Youth 8:30 am commandments. aware that through the requires a greater level of
Main Minyan 9:00 am We explained declaration of the shma we concentration and kavana in
Beit Midrash 9:15 am that there are two levels are accepting upon ourselves order to be fulfilled. The
of kavana that a person the yoke of Heaven – recitation of the shma requires
Gemorah Shiur 3:30 pm
could have when kabalat ol malchut an unqualified surrender to G-
Mincha 4:05 pm performing a mitzvah: shamayim. One must say the d as a higher power and
Shabbat Ends 5:20 pm The most basic level of words of the shma declaring recognition that G-d is the
Sunday, 7:30 am
kavana would be for us G-d to be the King with an Master of the Universe.
December 21 8:30 am have the intent to understanding of what it is The source of this
perform the mitzvah act that you are saying and what argument between the
Mon. thru Fri. 6:35 am
Chanukah in order to fulfill our it means to you (SA 63). Medieval commentators is an
obligation towards G-d The earlier ambiguous statement of the
Second Shacharit
Minyan (Daily) 7:45 am
without having any idea commentaries do not all Gemara in Brachot (13a)
what the mitzvah is all agree with this notion of the which discusses a fascinating
Mincha (week of 4:20 pm about, or what feelings dual kavana required for the real-life situation: The Mishna
December 21 )
and thoughts it is meant reading of the shma. Some, says that if a person was
Late Ma’ariv 8:15 pm to evoke. The greater such as Rashi and the reading the words of the Torah
Mon., - Thurs.,
Latest times for
Shema/Shmoneh Esrei
Kiddush Don’t
is sponsored by forget to
December 20 9:34/10:20 am light!
December 27 9:37/10:23 am
Karen & Edward First candle
Next Shabbat - Mikeitz
Wydra of chanukah—Sunday
Candle lighting 4:15 pm
in memory of her mother
See for
Mincha 4:20 pm
Evelyn Stein laws of chanukah
26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck, NY 11023 (516) 487-6100 Shabbat Announcements, Vayieishev 5769

and happened to get up to the section of the shma reasons we cannot always understand, G-d simply wants
right around the time of day when the mitzvah to that act to be performed regardless of what kinds of
recite the shma kicked in (either just after sunrise in emotions it evokes within you. As long as you do what
the morning or just after dark at night), if the person you are supposed to, and you do it for the sake of
“directed his heart to read” then the person fulfilled fulfilling the mitzvah, you have fulfilled your obligation.
the requirement to read the shma. The Talmud Subjective mitzvoth are ones whose purpose is to
concludes, based on this statement of the Mishna, that reach an internal feeling. G-d commands us to feel
mitzvoth require some level of intention, kavana. something, to experience something, to think something,
What the Talmud is essentially saying is that to transform our inner beings in some way. These
even if a person were reciting the actual words of the mitzvoth have two components to them: They have the
shma at the exact right time of day that person would ultimate and essential aspect of the inner feeling, but they
still not be fulfilling the mitzvah unless the person also have the external performance like any other
knew what he or she was doing, unless he or she had objective mitzvah. The Torah understood that it is hard
his or her “heart directed to read,” unless he or she to just pop in to an emotional sate and so it gave us some
had kavana the mitzvah would not be fulfilled even help. The Torah attached a physical act to these mitzvoth
though the act of reading the words was performed. in order to help us reach the emotional state and in order
It is hard to know what “directs his heart to to concretize the mitzvah in some way.
read” means: Does it mean that the person intended The shma and tefilla (the amidah prayer) are
to read it in order to fulfill the mitzvah, or does it some of the only mitzvoth that belong to the subjective
mean that through reciting the words he or she was category. The purpose of the shma is really to reach the
focusing on G-d and the meaning of the mitzvah? inner feeling or intellectual realization of “kabbalat ol
As we mentioned earlier, the law seems to malchut shamayim” of accepting G-d as the King (this
side with those who read the Gemara as saying that concept will be explained further in next week’s Tefilla
“directs his heart to read” implies a greater level of article). Thus, the act itself of reading the shma is really
kavana necessary for the shma. secondary. The real fulfillment of the mitzvah happens
We must ask a very basic question: Why is it when you reach that inner state of being.
that, according to this interpretation, the shma Thus, it follows that with regard to the mitzvah
requires more kavana than other mitzvoth? of the shma it would be impossible to fulfill the mitzvah
While there are many interesting answers to with the basic level of kavana required by other mitzvoth.
this question, I would like to begin with the If all you did was read the words of the shma for the sake
explanation put forward by Rabbi Joseph B. of fulfilling the mitzvah you would have never really
Soloveitchik, known as “The Rav.” reached the essence of the mitzvah. You would have
The Rav explains (This theory of his is quoted performed the act of the mitzvah, the concretization of
in many different places because it is a principle that the mitzvah, the first step of the mitzvah, but not the
he seems to have used in many contexts. For the mitzvah itself.
purposes of this article I will be referring to Worship Therefore you are required to have the added
of the Heart) that there are two types of mitzvoth that kavana of focusing on G-d and the meaning of accepting
exist in the Torah: Subjective mitzvoth and Objective His rule and His kingship so that you reach that inner
mitzvoth. feeling and understanding which is the true fulfillment of
Objective mitzvoth are ones whose purpose is this unique mitzvah of shma.
simply to perform an act. Once you have done the act
then objectively you have fulfilled the mitzvah. For Thought to Ponder
Great Neck Synagogue
26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck, New York 11023
Begin thinking about what “kabbalat ol malchut
516-487-6100 shamayim” “accepting the yoke of Heaven” is all about.
In next week’s Tefilla Digest article we will go in to
Dale Polakoff, Rabbi
greater detail about what that means.
Shalom Axelrod, Assistant Rabbi
Brahm Weinberg, Rabbinic Intern
Dr. Ephraim Wolf ,z”l, Rabbi Emeritus
Zeev Kron, Cantor
Eleazer Schulman, z”l, Cantor Emeritus
Mark Twersky, Executive Director
Howard Silberstein, President
Harold Domnitch, Chairman of the Board
In the Weinstein Torah & Technology Center Saturday evening
7:30pm, Mazal Tov to Elana & Jonathan Kroll on the birth of their son.
Mazal Tov to Laura & Elie Cohen on the birth of their
SUNDAY BREAKFAST daughter. Mazal Tov also to Elizabeth Lieberman on the birth
Sunday Breakfast is sponsored by Sonia & Ernest Herman in of her granddaughter.
memory of his mother ray Herman. Mazal Tov to Bracha & Cantor Ze’ev Kron on the birth of a
granddaughter to their children Rivi & Moshe Moskovitz.
Mazal Tov to Vera Bernstein on the birth of a grandson born
to her children Susie & Robert Schwartz and siblings Jacob &
December 18, 7:45pm, GNS is showing “The Lonely Man of Faith” the
story of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik. Rabbi Polakoff and Rabbi Lerner Emily.
will lead a panel discussion following the film. Sponsors are welcome. Mazal Tov to Sharon & Mark Twersky on the engagement of
their son Daniel to Jennifer Pudles of Lakewood, NJ.
CHANUKAH YOUTH LUNCHEON Mazal Tov to Rabbi Sholom Jensen on his engagement to
Chanukah Bash, Youth Luncheon Dec. 20, 2008. Entire Aksana Mavashev.
youth program invited. 1st grade and up. Don’t forget to sign Mazal Tov to Rachel & Norman Lee on the birth of a grand-
your tickets before Shabbat and bring to shul on the 20th. son, Jack Evan to their children Randy & Daniel Lee and Mazal
There will be a ticket hunt followed by the Grand Raffle. Tov to great grandmother Sabina Geist.
Thank you to the Sisterhood of Great Neck Synagogue KOL DITZRICH
for sponsoring the luncheon for our children. With Chanukah and the season of giving upon us, we are embarking
on the second half of our Initiative, Kol Ditzrich. We are collecting and
distributing non-food items. On Dec. 18th from 6-9pm at GNS, we will
SHARING THE LIGHT DECEMBER 21st be collecting new items, such as mistaken purchases, “oops items” and
Great Neck Synagogue Hunger Initiative is sponsoring a unused unwanted gifts to give to those who wouldn’t get any gifts at
Chanukah “Share The Light” program. We would like to collect all. What is extra to you may be valuable to others!
Chanukah related foods and items – such as jelly donuts,
cookies, latkes, and candles to provide to needy families and MAGAZINES WANTED
individuals. Please volunteer by either donating these items and/ Please drop off your used magazines to the Synagogue office.
or helping to package and deliver these items.
Make or buy a holiday food item. Due to the way the Post Office is now handling bulk mail, you may have
Email or call Cindy Hodkin if you can donate items, help pack or been getting your Shabbat Announcements very late. To keep them
deliver. Email address is current, we are sending an email version of the news out each week.
Collect Chesed hours by helping. December 21 is the day! Our new website will be running soon, where the full version of the
Pick the time slot that is most convenient for you to drop off food announcements will be available. Please send your email address to: so you may get your news in a timely fashion. The
and/or to assemble packages and deliver them.
board has decided to stop mass mailing the announcements by the first
Food Drop-Off: Between 12:00-2:00.
of the year. Hard copies will be available in the office, and on Shabbat.
Volunteer (assemble/deliver): Between 12:00-3:00. If you don’t have internet access, let us know, and we’ll mail your copy.
For directions and additional information, please call Cindy
Hodkin at 516-482-7771 or 317-9632 (before 9:00 please).
Thank you for your support! Let’s bring light to those in need. NSHA PTA FUNDRAISER
Harlem Wizards vs. North Shore Lions, (Parents, Faculty and Students)
this January 10th, at North Middle School at 7:30pm. $25 per person in
SISTERHOOD CHANUKAH WORKSHOP advance, and $30 at the door. For more info: Dalya Vilinsky 487-1221.
Sunday, December 21st, Erev Chanukah, 10:30am-Noon at GNS,
Sisterhood presents a Stained Glass Chanukah Workshop with Artist
Roberta Flatow. Make your very own gift for someone you love, $18 Paula Minsky and Family would like to thank Rabbi Polakoff, Rabbi
per item. Cider and Sufganiyot will be served. Adults and children 7+ Axelrod , Cantor Kron, Mark Twersky, Norman Rutta, the Synagogue staff,
are welcome. To RSVP contact Margery Libin at 466-7336 or email and the entire community for their outpouring of support, sympathy and
kindness following the death of her mother Bella Lefkowitz Baum.
Nachas Fun Kinder? Hear what Shalom Aleichem has to say at Dos
Yiddush Vort on Tuesday, December 23, at 1:30pm in the Chalfin Saturday, 23 Kislev
Room. Chanukah Treats will be served. All are welcome! For more Al Leiderman for Leo Leiderman
info call Roz Wagner 487-9795. Karen Wydra for Evelyn Stein
Sunday, 24 Kislev
Jan. 13th 8pm - Guest Speaker, Dr. Jill Maura Rabin, head of
Henry Dicker for Blanche Dicker
Urogynecology, Chief of Ambulatory Care at LIJ and Clinical Associate Susan Goldman for Malia Ring
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Women’s Health at Albert Ernest Herman for Ray Herman
Michal Malen for Emanuel Hoschander
Einstein Medical School, will be speaking on women’s health issues, at
the home of Cindy Ludwig, 22 Nassau Drive. We are grateful to UJA Y Monday, 25 Kislev
for providing a grant for her appearance. A Tuesday, 26 Kislev
Mahin Aryeh for Marilyn Schwadron
THANK YOU H Mr. & Mrs. Eliezer Noy for Yosef Zargaryan
The Hunger Initiative would like to thank Sharon Goldwyn, David
Birnbaum, and Raphaela & Isaac Keschner for donating the R Wednesday, 27 Kislev
Stuart Kaufman for Morris Kaufman
extra food from their Cheva Brachot to help others. If you are having
a simcha and would like to have someone pick up the extra food to
Z Thursday, 28 Kislev
Pauline Loewenstein for Naomi Rutta
donate to those in need, please call Margery Libin at 242-1928 E Amir Mardkha for Touti Mardkha
SCHOLARS KOLLEL I Friday, 29 Kislev
Helaine Helmreich for Harry Gewirtz
The Scholars Kollel is meeting at GNS every morning from 8:30 to
10am. For more information contact Steve Zuckerman at 652-5266.
T Reuel Shinnar for Miryam Shinnar