Our community is blessed with incredible Torah learning that permeates the atmosphere. On the night of Hoshana Rabbah, Chazaq and the Bukharian Jewish Congregation of Briarwood featured all-night learning at the Bukharian Jewish Congregation of Briarwood.
Speakers included the following: Rabbi Simantov Yanetz, Rabbi Nisan Shalomayev, Rabbi Yitzchok Bistritsky, Rabbi Yaakov Rahimi, and Rabbi Yaniv Meirov.
Here are a few excerpts from this incredible learning program:
Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, CEO of Chazaq, shared a stirring shiur at four a.m. He stated, “This is the crescendo! We say thank you if someone does us a favor. We say thank you very much when it’s a big favor. Hoshana Rabbah – this is it!” He shared a parable. Imagine someone is in a concentration camp and he is told he can save his life if he takes the 6 p.m. train. He responds that he’s too tired. People stayed up all night learning, and now when they daven in the morning on Hoshana Rabbah, it’s the opportunity to ask Hashem for life. We have to grab that opportunity.
Rabbi Meirov shared a famous question. Why can’t you say a brachah on the lulav and esrog just by looking at them. Why do you have to hold them to say the brachah? The answer is that the Torah says to take the four species for yourself. The esrog symbolizes the heart. The lulav symbolizes the spine. The leaves of the hadasim symbolize the eyes, and the leaves of the aravos symbolize the mouth. Hashem is saying to take these for yourself, meaning take control of your eyes and what you look at, and your mouth and what goes in it, and what comes out in speech. The spine means to stand up proud and tall for Judaism. Make sure your desires are for Torah and mitzvos. This must be a reminder all year long.
Rabbi Meirov taught that “there is no such thing as losing out when you do mitzvos.” He shared a story of a businessman who traveled from New York to Detroit, and he had an important meeting set for a certain time. He went to a minyan and was delayed because the ninth man needed to say Kaddish and begged him to stay. Amazingly, when he finally arrived late to the meeting, the person he was meeting with turned out to be that very man who had asked him to stay to say Kaddish. Of course, he made the deal. He stressed that we need to remember that “everything Hashem does is for the best.”
On Sukkos, the main thing is to be happy. We learn from this holiday that material things are not what make us happy. He shared a famous quote of Rav Avrohom Yaakov Pam that people are looking for the city of happiness, but it’s in the state of mind. Happiness depends on our state of mind and what we choose to focus on. A person needs to always work on having positive thoughts. The only way for the Divine Prescence to dwell with us is if we are happy.
Yaakov Avinu lost his ruach ha’kodesh when he was sad about losing Yosef. For the Sh’chinah to dwell in our sukkah, we have to be happy. The aravos symbolize our words, and we bang them because we have the ability to change our mazal through our words. He shared that the word “mazal” starts with the letter mem, which stands for makom. Change your makom, your place. The letter zayin stands for time. Change to the right time at the right place. Finally, the letter lamid stands for lashon (language). “Your words make a big difference in Heaven.”
Rabbi Meirov urged everyone to build a connection to Torah and to make a commitment to learn day and night.
Rabbi Yaakov Rahimi, well-known speaker, shared that Hoshana Rabbah is considered a mini-Yom Kippur according to the Shulchan Aruch. Every moment of this day is holy and valuable. He taught that when a person begs Hashem for forgiveness, then Hashem forgives him. The Chofetz Chaim taught that t’shuvah is a mindset. It’s your heart speaking to Hashem. You share your regrets for sins and make a commitment to do what is right from now on. “A person’s heart has to be with Hashem.” He added that “t’shuvah is in every person’s ability to do.”
These inspiring shiurim can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber