It is traditional to learn Mishna in honor of the soul. This can be seen in the word Mishna משנה which contains the same letters as נשמה, the soul. Prayer is also powerful; and, of course giving tzedakah as well. Therefore, each day we will be offering this ceremony, which incorporates all three, to stand in place of kaddish—until our daily minyan resumes. Of course, you should still daven three times a day, and are encouraged to join our daily Mincha-Maariv call in, which will incorporate a Kel Maleh/Memorial prayer for the Yahrtzeits of the day as well as a Dvar Torah.
Open the service with a prayer (listed below) and Tehillim. Each day we will provide a different Mishna with brief commentary and guiding questions. Read the Mishna, in either English or Hebrew… or both :) , and review the commentary. If it so interests you, answer the guiding questions as well. Then, set aside any amount of money for tzedakah in honor of your loved one.
May these important mitzvot provide an עילוי נשמה, an elevation of the soul, for your loved one and help all of Am Yisrael and the world in these difficult times.
Order of the Service
May my prayer, Torah learning, and tzedakah stand in the merit of _______________ b. ________________ (add the Hebrew name and the Hebrew name of their father).
1. Tehillim (Psalm 121)
שִׁיר לַמַּעֲלוֹת אֶשָּׂא עֵינַי אֶל-הֶהָרִים מֵאַיִן יָבֹא עֶזְרִי. עֶזְרִי מֵעִם ה' עֹשֵׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ. אַל יִתֵּן לַמּוֹט רַגְלֶךָ; אַל יָנוּם שֹׁמְרֶךָ. הִנֵּה לֹא יָנוּם וְלֹא יִישָׁן שׁוֹמֵר יִשְׂרָאֵל. ה' שֹׁמְרֶךָ; ה' צִלְּךָ עַל-יַד יְמִינֶךָ. יוֹמָם הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ לֹא יַכֶּכָּה וְיָרֵחַ בַּלָּיְלָה. ה' יִשְׁמָרְךָ מִכָּל-רָע, יִשְׁמֹר אֶת-נַפְשֶׁךָ. ה' יִשְׁמָר צֵאתְךָ וּבוֹאֶךָ מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם.
A song of ascents. I lift my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. God will not let your foot falter, your guardian will not slumber. Behold, the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. The Lord is your Guardian, the Lord is your protection by your right side. By day the sun will not harm you, nor the moon by night. The Lord will guard you from all evil; the Lord will guard your life. The Lord will guard your going and coming from now and forever.
2. Mishna Learning (Chapters of the Fathers 1, 1)
משֶׁה קִבֵּל תּוֹרָה מִסִּינַי, וּמְסָרָהּ לִיהוֹשֻׁעַ, וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ לִזְקֵנִים, וּזְקֵנִים לִנְבִיאִים, וּנְבִיאִים מְסָרוּהָ לְאַנְשֵׁי כְנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה. הֵם אָמְרוּ שְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים, הֱווּ מְתוּנִים בַּדִּין, וְהַעֲמִידוּ תַלְמִידִים הַרְבֵּה, וַעֲשׂוּ סְיָג לַתּוֹרָה:
Moses received the Torah at (lit. from) Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets to the Men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: Be patient in [the administration of] justice, raise up many disciples, and make a fence around the Torah.
Q: According to the Mishna, Moshe received Torah מסיני, which means “from Sinai.” It should have read בסיני, “at Sinai.” Why this unique language?
A: It hints to Moshe’s humility, a prerequisite for learning and transmitting Torah. Moshe received Torah “from a place of Sinai,” of humility. The Sages share that Sinai was the lowest of all mountains. To truly ensure the proper transmission of our tradition from generation to generation, we must humble ourselves and accept what those before us have to share. As a Modern Orthodox community, we are always looking forward, toward new discoveries and innovations. However, we must always remember to remain humble and listen to the words of Torah. This will ensure that the Torah continues to live within us, even as new generations are born.
Q: The language used in the continuation is “raise up many disciples.” Why not just say “teach many disciples”?
A: The reason is that in education it is not enough to just “teach,” to transfer knowledge. We must encourage our students to stand on their own two feet and implement the teachings on their own. The Mishna asks us to “raise up many disciples,” so that they are able, on their own, to live a full life based on Torah values. (This is true at home and at the workplace, also.)Further questions to consider:
- How is the first piece of advice connected to the second? How is being patient relevant to ensuring the success, the “raising up,” of your students/children?
- How is the third piece of advice, establishing halachic safeguards around the Torah, connected to the first two: being patient (in judgement) and “raising up” many students?
- If you were to offer three pieces of advice for the next generation, what would they be?
Set aside tzedakah in memory and in the merit of your loved one.