THE KEY TO THE GATES
Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita
Ours is green and yellow, we were never sure from whence it came, but it is cherished in a way beyond common understanding. Whenever there is a chill in the house it is called for, as well as when a child feels hurt, or a parent needs comforting. I’m talking about ‘Bubby’s Green Blanket,’ a crocheted cover made from thick scratchy threads that are woven in a rustic flower pattern. It has a unique comforting aroma, a lovely perfume embedded with generations of tears and laughter.
Families each have their own taste and ambiance, our blanket is the symbol of safety and love, no matter what challenges the Eibishter sends our way. The generations glide forward and that scratchy old cover carries on being the ‘comfort blanket’ for all ills.
Rosh Hashonah is the safety place for Klall Yisroel, under its familiar pattern we find hope, forgiveness and reinvigoration.
Rav Volf Kitzes Ztl was one of the greatest students of the Baal Shem Tov and served as the ba’al Tokeia in the Rebbe’s minyan. Once Reb Volf asked the Baal Shem Tov to teach him the many Kabbalistic secrets that one should have in mind whilst blowing the shofar. The Rebbe told him to write down everything he would teach him and keep the holy words close to hand on Yom tov. The two Tzaddikim sat together and Reb Volf wrote down everything, neatly placing the page in his Machzor. The minhag by the Baal Shem Tov was that before shofar blowing, they had an intermission so that the olam could prepare themselves for the holy mitzvah. Reb Volf left to go to the mikvah and unbeknownst to him, the Baal Shem Tov took the holy instructions out of the Machzor. The olam gathered in the shul, the Baal Shem Tov entered covered with his tallis, Reb Volf took the shofar in hand and opened his Machzor. The page was missing! What could he do now? All his anticipation, his hopes of reaching the highest levels of kedusha, all gone, the paper was gone. The Rebbe looked into his students pained eyes, “nu, Reb Volf?” Having no choice, the pained Yied took the shofar to his lips and with a broken heart blew the hieliga notes.
After the davening the Baal Shem Tov lauded the brilliance of Reb Volf’s shofar blowing. Then the tzadik drew his devoted student close and told him, ‘You should know that kabalistic secrets are very sacred and holy, they are like a key that can open up the gates of heaven. Sadly not always can the key work, sometimes the lock is stuffed and rusty and the key just fails. However, the broken heart of a Yied, is stronger than anything, it’s like an axe that can break through all the gates.”
It has been close to half a year now that we have all been locked up. Each affected in their own particular manner. Rosh Hashonah has arrived and for some, the gates seem to be locked, the normal keys of yesteryear blocked with months of worry and sorrow. We take the shofar in hand, and just like ‘Bubby’s Blanket’ we feel loved and cared for. Yes, we enter this year with broken hearts, yet, we know that Hashem is with us, and His love for our trembling hearts will break down all the spiritual adversaries (Katrikgm) that threaten His children. We will get through all this, and find that Yiddishkiet is the common blanket of warmth we share.
Chazal tell us that the reason we blow two rounds of shofar blasts is to mix up the Satan. The Sochotchover Rebbe Ztl explains the dynamics in this. The Satan knows that on Rosh Hashonah the Yidden are going to be judged, so he brings wagon loads of sins that Yidden may have done during the year. Boruch Hashem, when we do teshuva with love, the sins are turned into mitzvos. Satan gets mixed up and can’t understand what is happening. Every time he brings another wagon load, they turn into mitzvos.
How, in the year of corona can we change over whatever we broke into mitzvos? By seeking out the security that true Torah life affords and accepting Hashem’s love despite all the challengers we have witnessed.
The Rubin’s have their green blanket, and when the Rebbetzin A’H was niftar I lost touch to its power. Then after the Shiva, one of the grandchildren went upstairs and found it. Bringing it down, I could see it working its magic. It’s now part of the next generation.
We will blow the shofar this year, and we should huddle under its blanket of teshuvah. Let us all fool the mekatrim together with our achdus. In this way may we all be gibentched with a kesivah vechasima tova.