Shabbat Parshat NITZAVIM -
ROSH HASHANA - Shabbat Parshat VAYEILECH
On Monday, October 3rd, Erev Rosh HaShana, it is recommended to light a 24-hour candle before Yom Tov candles, so that a flame will readily be available for candle lighting on the second night of Rosh HaShana, when striking a match is forbidden.
The brachot for Yom Tov candles should preferably be said immediately before lighting the candles (not after lighting, as is standard Shabbat candles procedure). Covering the eyes is not necessary for Yom Tov candles, if the brachot are said first.
A woman who wants to light Rosh HaShana candles the same way she lights Shabbat candles, may do so (including covering her eyes).
For the second night, wait until dark (see times above), light from a pre-existing flame only, brachot first, then light. Many follow the custom of having a SHE'HE'CHE'YANU fruit or garment in mind when lighting on the second night.
Havdala on Wednesday
night, Motza'ei Rosh HaShana, is wine (Borei Pri HaGafen) and
havdala (HaMavdil Bein Kodesh L'Chol) only. No introductory p'sukim
(Hinei Keil...). No B'samim. No candle.
Sunset, on the other hand, is given for an elevation of 825m and, in parentheses, as if at sea level. There are different opinions as to which sunset time should be used for halachic purposes. We present both times.
The deadlines for the SH'MA and the Shacharit Amida can be calculated in two ways. Either considering the day to be from sunrise to sunset or from dawn to stars out. The first way of reckoning is known as the opinion of the GR"A, and is the first time given in each case. The second method is known as the Magen Avraham, and is presented in parentheses.
Aside from candle lighting and havdala, the times are presented as a range, from the current Thursday of the issue of Torah Tidbits until the coming Thursday, a span of 8 days. Days between the two Thursdays can be determined by interpolation (which means: a method by which to estimate a value of between two known values-this is something that people above a certain age might remember from high school trigonometry and logarithms, but younger people who went to school during the calculator era might not be familiar with).
It is usually wise to
"pad" the times with a minute or two in the "play it safe"
direction. E.g. Plag Mincha. Better to finish Mincha a minute or two
before the given time. But, better to not light candles until a
minute or two after the given time.
As mentioned in last week's TT, the molad of Tishrei is before noon on MON, which would usually mean that RH would be MON (and TUE), but that would result in shortening 5765 to 382 days, which cannot be. Therefore, the very rare D'CHIYA (postponing rule for the fixing of RH) is applied, and RH is fixed at TUE (and WED).
Minhag Yerushalayim is to say Kiddush L'vana as soon after 3 full days after the molad as possible. Even in Tishrei, when the most common custom is to wait until motza'ei Yom Kippur for KL. First op for Minhag Yerushalayim is THU Oct. 6.
Because THU is a fast day, it is proper to say KL only after breaking one's fast.
As mentioned, most
people/shuls wait until after Yom Kippur. In that case, it is not
necessary to say havdala and break one's fast before KL.
In chapter 7, Rambam explains why the concept of Free Will is so important in Jewish Life and why the topic is presented specifically in The Laws of Repentance. He says that it is precisely the fact that human beings have Free Will, that there is such a thing as T'shuva. Without real choice on the part of the individual, there would be no meaning to Repentance. If a thief had no choice in his behavior, then he also has no accountability and responsibility for what he does.
But we do have freedom to choose what we do. And therefore, we are accountable for what we do, and there- fore we have the challenge and obligation to change our ways for the better, to do T'shuva.
Rambam then says that not only is T'shuva real because of our Free Will, it is exceedingly important because of how powerful it is. What it is capable of achieving for the individual (the community and the World).
The final three
chapters of Rambam's Hilchot T'shuva explore yet another topic -
Reward and Punishment, with a specific focus on the World to Come.
This too is not a digression from the T'shuva theme of this section
of Rambam's Mishne Torah, it is part of the package deal. Free Will
with accountability, with reward for mitzvot and punishment for
sins, combine to make T'shuva so important.
[P> X:Y (Z)] and [S>
X:Y (Z)] indicate start of a parsha p’tucha or s’tuma respectively.
X:Y is Perek:Pasuk of the beginning of the parsha; (Z) is the number
of p'sukim in the parsha.
SDT Rav Aharon of Karlin pointed out that ATEM is made of the letters of the word EMET, truth. This, he said, is the only way to achieve LIFNEI HASHEM, to stand before G-d.
SDT The Alshich points
out that the Torah describes the People as "all of you, before G-d",
and then proceeds to delineate different types of Jews. Before G-d,
we ARE all the same. Whatever differences might exist pale into
insignificance in comparison with the fact that we are all G-d's
creations. Differences become important from our perspective. We
view some people as more valuable than others. But we really have no
way to know how G-d views us. In His eyes we are all standing erect
Perhaps this is the
meaning of the prophecy to Avraham Avinu that his descendants will
be as countless as the stars of the heavens. Take the millions of
Jews alive today, add the millions who have preceded us, add the -
how many more? - future generations, and we can truly be called
"without number". Nations that have come to an end, can be numbered.
An eternal people cannot ever be counted.
SDT The phrase describing what we would today refer to as a "rotten apple" is "Shoresh Poreh Rosh V'laana", literally a poisonous root of gall and wormwood. The initial letters of this phrase rearrange to spell SHOFAR, the antidote to this negative facet of Jewish life. The Shofar must awaken the one who stray and start him on the road of T'shuva.
A person who turns to another religion will be severely punished, even if he thinks otherwise. These p'sukim are a miniature version of the Tochacha from last week's reading.
The portion concludes with the statement that there are mysteries of this world that are G-d's and there are revealed truths that belong to us and our children. Our challenge is to remain faithful to the Torah.
This pasuk has wide
applications. In all areas of human knowledge - science, math,
history... - there are mysteries and there are revealed truths. But
remember, today's mysteries can be revealed tomorrow, next year...
The wayward Jew turning back towards HaShem and the Torah, and the exiled Jew to a distant land coming back to Israel are presented simultaneously. This represents the dual nature of T'shuva. What a wonderful opportunity beckons each Jew - and the Jewish People as a whole - in being given a second chance to live a true Torah life.
Or, we can look at T’shuva as a gift from G-d. He doesn’t HAVE to command it. He just has to let it be possible. And we should jump at the opportunity. The Torah does not have to command us to breathe. We do it because it is helpful to living. So is T’shuva. The Torah doesn’t have to tell us to repent, just how to do it.On the other hand, there is one aspect of T'shuva that IS counted by Rambam as a mitzva among the 613 - Vidui, verbal confession. This is a specific aspect of T'shuva that DOES "qualify" for the Rambam's count. And yet, as mentioned earlier, some mitzva-counters DO count T'shuva among the 613.
The last pasuk of the
portion contains one of several ELULs, in the form of Rashei Teivot,
initial letters. And G-d will circumcise ET L'VAVCHA V'ET L'VAV
zar'echa, your heart and the heart of your children. Baal HaTurim
actually says that this is why we say Slichot during Elul.
We have Free Will. We can be whatever kind of people we choose to be. We have His "recommendation" and encouragement to choose Life over Death, Good over Evil. Our proper choices will earn us long life and a firm hold on the Land that He promised our ancestors.
Let us heed the
warnings of Nitzavim, let us be inspired by the beautiful challenges
of Nitzavim, let us be uplifted by the lofty messages of Nitzavim,
and let us have a "successful" Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, and a
happy & healthy year of peace & prosperity.
1st Torah, B’reishit
The last part of this
reading is a single P’tucha of 13 p’sukim, about the treaty between
Avraham and Avimelech. This part of the reading is divided between
the last 2 Aliyot of the first Torah. Commentaries point out that it
was in the merit of the prayers of Avraham on behalf of the
Avimelech's people, that his and Sara's prayers for themselves were
also answered. This fits with one of the powerful themes and
messages of RH, namely the power of prayer.
We stand before G-d on Yom HaDin and we proclaim that we are not only the biological descendants of Avraham and Yitzchak (and Yaakov), but the spiritual heirs as well. We are not just telling stories; we are inspired to emulate our forefathers and develop a total commitment to G-d and Torah.
Perhaps it is much more
than that. The old question about the zebra (of Shel Silverstein’s
poem), as to whether it is a black animal with white stripes or a
white animal with black stripes, is very applicable to that average
Jew. Each of us does mitzvot which earn us credit, so to speak, and
sins that are held against us. Whatever the ratio, the question is
what kind of Jews are we. Am I a good Jew with episodes of sin or am
I a wicked Jew who does mitzvot from time to time. And this is not
merely a matter of numbers. It is possible that we are evaluated as
good Jews who slip, even if the slipping is significant... because
we are the descendants of the Avot and Imahot. This is part of why
we mention the Akeida so often on Rosh HaShana.
G-d tells Moshe that after his death, the people will rebel against Him, stray from the proper path, and embrace other gods. G-d announces that He will show His anger by "hiding His Face" from them. This is a reference to the well-known "hester panim" which manifests itself as G-d "working behind the scenes" only, in hidden, subtle ways.
This prophecy by no means “obligates” that generation, or any generation, to turn to idolatry. It is possible for the prophecy never to come true. And this would not impugn the truth of Torah or Moshe’s status as a prophet. We always have the challenge not to turn away from G-d, and the ability to remain faithful to Him.
Next is the command to write "The Song" (namely the whole Torah), to teach it to the people, so that it should serve as a testament among the People of Israel. This is the last mitzva of the Torah [613, A18 31:19], to write a Sefer Torah.
SDT "...and teach it to
the People of Israel - place it in their mouths." From here the
Gemara teaches us that one must review and review his teachings with
his students until they understand. It is not sufficient to just
teach; one must work very hard until his students really understand,
until it in their mouths.
As stated by R. Samuel b. Isaac Sardi (Spain; 1185-1255; Sefer haTerumot, Gate 46, 8:1) and R. Shabati Cohen (Lithuania, Germany; 1622-1663, Schach Yoreh De’ah, 165 (8)) currency is definitely under Dina D’Malchuta Dina and if the currency is changed, the Jews must abide by the laws of the land and use new currency and/or new exchange rates.
There was a loan that was made and then the government devalued the currency. The question arose whether the borrower must pay the amount stipulated in the loan document or the new currency, which was a much larger amount. When the government devalued the currency the new law stated that all debts were to be paid in the new currency at a certain proportion of the old money to new money. R. Weiss held that since the government provided the currency legislation it must be followed under Dina D’Malchuta Dina. Similar results were reached by Rabbi Yaakov Reisler (Prague Germany; 1670-1733; Shevut Yaakov, part 2, response 175; and R. Eliyahu ben Chaim, (Turkey; 1530-1610; Ranach Mayim Amukim, response 104).
The government had passed a law that certain negotiable instruments could be transferred the same as cash. R. David Friedman (Poland 1828-1917; Sheilot David, Yoreh De’ah response 7) was asked if the halacha had to recognize the law under the doctrine of Dina. He held that since this was a governmental function regarding money it is binding.
A similar result obtained from R. Moses Alshech (Turkey, Israel; 1507-1594; Maharam Alshech, response 79) in dealing with a payment that had to be made under a promissory note and the currency had been changed; under the Dina doctrine the laws of the government as to the amount of the new currency to be paid is controlling.
Reuven borrowed money from a Gentile and wrote a promissory note. The Gentile sold the promissory note to Shimon, a Jew. Shimon brings a lawsuit in Beth Din against Reuven and asks the Beth Din to administer Moroccan law that favored the Gentile as provided for under the note. R. Saul Abital (Morocco; 1740-1809; Avnai Shayish, part 1, response 41) held that under Dina D’Malchuta Dina, the Beth Din should apply the Moroccan law.
In a case that came before R. Moshe Feinstein (who in my humble opinion, was the greatest respondist of the 20th century) he determined that the amount of money a father should use to redeem his son from the kohen as determined by the government’s actions in establishing the value of its own currency. Similarly the government could determine the value of its own currency under Dina D’Malchuta Dina so that a person would be bound in paying off a loan. (R. Moshe Feinstein, Russia, United States; 1895-1986; Igress Moshe Yoreh De’ah, volume 2, response 189.)
The question goes still further as to whether a person can redeem his son or marry a woman with paper money. As shown by R. Chalfan haKohen, there are holding both ways. R. Chalfan Moses haKohen; 1874-1950; Shoel v'Nishal volume 5, Yoreh De’ah; volume 5, response 127.)
A kethuba is an
obligatory undertaking by a husband to provide for his wife during
their marriage and to pay her a sum stipulated in the kethuba in
case he divorces her, or in case of his death, the amount of money
that his estate will pay to the widow, in addition to other rights
that she has in the estate of the husband. Sometimes the question
arises when the kethuba is being paid off. In this case, when the
kethuba was written the money stipulated therein had a value that
was in this case changed over the years by currency devaluations.
The heirs of the decedent wanted to pay the amount in the kethuba
which was a small amount before the devaluations and the widow
wanted to receive the larger amount as devalued. It was held by R.
Yosef b. Moses Trani (Israel, Turkey; 1568-1639; Maharit, part 2,
Eben haEzer, response 2), following an earlier decision by R. Yom
Tov Ishbili (Spain; 125-1330; Ritva, response 53.), that under Dina
D’Malchuta Dina she should get the larger amount as provided by the
Criminal Law violations
The following question was asked of R. Moshe Feinstein: The U.S. government sponsored programs for schools, yeshivot were included in the programs. The question was asked whether a yeshiva can inflate the reported number of students who were actually in school. R. Feinstein first discuses how merciful and good America is to the Jews, and that so many holocaust survivors have been given permission to live there and how well they have succeeded and how well they are treated, and so many yeshivot have opened and are flourishing in America. He concludes that no head of a yeshiva will ever permit himself to be guilty of robbery by submitting false registration figures and thus violate Dina D’Malchuta Dina. (Igress Moshe, Eben haEzer, vol. 4, response 29.)
Other topics to which
Dina D’Malchuta applies in future lessons.
S'lichot prior to
Rosh HaShana part two
1. In the area of
Gerona, selichot were said starting only at Rosh HaShana. This is
the custom mentioned in the Rambam (Teshuva 3:4) to rise early in
the morning and say words of supplication and subduing [the heart]
during the Ten Days of Repentance.
The Gra (C 581) explains that our current custom is actually just a modification of the custom mentioned in the Ran. As we explained last week, beginning on the 25th of Elul is intended to be a commemoration of the creation of the world, which likewise commenced (according to Rebbe Eliezer) on the 25th of Elul.
The Gra points out that
while it is true that the creation began on the 25th of Elul, it is
likewise true that it began on the "first day", that is, what we
call Saturday night. So beginning on Motzaei Shabbat is equally a
commemoration of the beginning of creation, and has the additional
advantage that selichot are always begun on a fixed day of the week.
In any case, the selichot always begin within a very few days of the
25th of Elul.
A later Rishon, the Leket Yosher, mentions the custom of starting selichot on Motzaei Shabbat as we do now, and brings a different reason in the name of his Rebbe, the very prominent authority Trumat HaDeshen.
The Trumat HaDeshen, writes Leket Yosher, explains that "the Divine Presence doesn't dwell amidst sadness or sloth, but only from the joy of a mitzva", as we learn in the gemara (Shabbat 30b). Thus during selichot, when we seek G^d's presence to accept our repentance, we need to experience this joy. The ideal time for this is right after Shabbat. On Shabbat the people have been absorbed in the mitzva of Torah learning (which is primarily on Shabbat for many working people) and in the mitzva of Shabbat indulgence itself. This demeanor of joy provides an ideal backdrop for the beginning of our penitential prayers.
This explanation gives us an important insight into the nature of selichot. Repentance does not need to be a sad or frustrating process, punctuated by despairing regret over the mistakes of the past. Of course regret and renunciation of past sins is an essential component of repentance, but this can and even should be balanced and dominated by a sense of renewed hope for a better future once we have repaired our ways.
complements the explanation we brought for the custom mentioned by
the Ran. Repentance is not a tragic necessity, the result of the
"freak accident" of sin. Rather, it is a natural part of human
development, just as the creation of the world was a natural and
essential preparation for the creation and subsequent development of
"And there was strife between the herds men of Avraham and the herds men of Lot; and the Canaanites and Perizzites were then dwelling in the land" (Gen. 13:7). To what shall we ascribe this quarrel? The text tells that they were both replete with flocks herds and wealth, so that the land could not bear them both. Was that sufficient to lead the Lot who had gone from Haran together with Avraham, who had followed him down to Egypt and who had not revealed the truth about Sarah to Pharaoh, to quarrel and ultimately separate himself from the Abrahamic path?
In truth, there was a problem of the scarcity of grazing and water in the area between Bethel and Ai, north East of Yerushalyim where Avraham and Lot camped. Further- more, at that time as our text tells us, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, two of the Seven Nations that then dwelt in the Promised Land, had encroached on that area originally allocated to Bnei Shem by Noah after the Flood. "The text tells us that the land could not carry these nations as well as Avraham and Lot" (Ramban).
However, throughout the Tanach, indeed throughout history, our Jewish sources see beyond the economic, political and social reasons that on the surface explain events in the lives of individuals and nations, to provide the ethical and spiritual motives that are the real causes. Here too, the real reason was not materialism but rather the question whether or not Lot desired to continue to cleave to the Abrahamic way, to do righteousness and justice.
Chazal tell us that the spiritual challenge of wealth is more difficult than that of poverty; "And Jeshurun [Israel] waxed fat and rebelled". It is not wealth per se that is evil nor is it even the pursuit of wealth; after all G-d created a world in which the satisfaction of human needs is to be found in material and natural ways and not through revealed miracles. However, the danger lies in not ever having enough, in greed and in the lack of faith that G-d supplies all the needs of all His creatures; "One who does not say in Ashrei, 'You open Your Hand and satisfy all that lives', does not fulfill their obligation" (Orech Chaim). These all lead to theft, robbery, fraud, oppression and bloodshed. It was the un-Abrahamic concept of how to earn and spend money that was at the root of Lot's quarrel and ultimate separation.
The shepherds of Avraham and of Lot echo the spiritual and ethical standards of their masters.
"The shepherds of Lot, echoing their master's evil thoughts, said to those of Avraham", You graze your animals while they are muzzled only because you are jealous of Lot. You know that your master is childless and that ours will inherit him, so you muzzle the animals to retard their growth thus cheating Lot out of his full inheritance" (Pesikta Rabbati 3). This mid- rash may seem to be either trivial or unreal, yet we know all too well the bitterness, recriminations and quarrels that divide siblings or heirs who previously were united and loving, as soon as inheritances become real and tangible. Jealousy, bickering and material desires that become apparent when inheritances are involved have little to do with the relative wealth of the heirs.
"The shepherds of Lot left their flocks and herds unmuzzled, which meant that they were free to graze everywhere even in the fields of others, while those of Avraham's were careful to prevent their sheep and cattle from grazing on the land of others. They rebuked Lot's men saying that their method meant the theft of other people's property. To which the shepherds of Lot replied, "G-d has given this whole land to Avraham and his descendants, and since Avraham is childless and Lot will inherit him, there is no theft or immorality involved in our method of grazing" (B'reishit Rabba).
Rationalization of unethical deeds is the way we all justify actions that we clearly know are wrong or forbidden by Torah, so that these arguments of Lot's men should not surprise us at all.
To the shepherds of Lot in both these midrashim, the actual reply of Avraham's men was the same. "It is true that G-d promised the whole of this land to the descendants of Avraham. However, that promise is only to be fulfilled in 400 years time, after a period of exile and slavery as recorded in the Brit Bein HaBetarim(Genesis 15: 13-21). This means that now neither Avraham himself nor Lot nor other descendants has any rights or privileges in the land therefore what you are doing is nothing more that theft and robbery".
The reference to the presence of the other nations in Eretz Yisrael and the postponement of the rights of Avraham's descendants to the Promised Land highlights another vital religious truth: "The seal of G-d is truth and He is a King of Justice, Melech Hamishpat". In the covenant of the Brit Bein HaBetarim it is made clear that at that time the sin of the Seven Nations had not yet sunk to the level of iniquity that deserves expulsion from the Holy Land, which does not stomach evil and tum'a. Avraham's descendants had therefore to wait until they could take possession. Later, the Torah says: "You shall not defile yourselves in any of these things that the nations who were before you in your Land defiled them-selves so that the Land was defiled, that the Land not vomit you out as it did those nations" (Vayira 18:24-28).
This is the 99th
installment in Dr. Tamari’s series on “Tanach and its messages for
Q: As a ba’al tokei'a (shofar blower), I am asked to go to sick people’s homes to blow for them. It can be very difficult to make it to everyone. Must I go to everyone, including women, who are not obligated in the mitzva of shofar?
A: There are points in this matter that are difficult to quantify or find clear halachic guidelines. We will try to put the matter in proper, halachic perspective.
The mitzva to hear the shofar on Rosh Hashana is a personal one, even though it is usually performed publicly. If one cannot go to shul, he is responsible to arrange to hear it elsewhere, assuming he is well enough to do so, and should be willing to spend money to facilitate it. (See Eretz Hemdah I, 1:7 and Moadim U’zmanimI, 4 regarding how much money/toil one is required to put out in order to fulfill a mitzva. In the final analysis, this is a somewhat subjective determination).
In order to perform a mitzva on another’s behalf, the one who performs it must be obligated in the mitzva. Yet, even if one already fulfilled the mitzva, the fact that his friend is obligated in the mitzva makes him obligated enough to perform the mitzva on his friend’s behalf (Rosh Hashana 29a). This is based on the concept of arvut (responsibility to help one’s counterpart with his halachic obligations) (Rashi, ad loc.). The practical parameters of this obligation are unclear. However, “conventional halachic wisdom” is that one does not have to expend as much to ensure his friend’s fulfillment of a mitzva as his own. The question of these parameters applies not only to money, but, as in this case, to toil and curtailing the enjoyment and mitzva of a festive meal after a long day in shul, as well. In theory, a ba’al tokei'a can demand monetary compensation for the toil of making such “house calls.” We suggested this concept to a mohel who was asked to spend Shabbat away from home under difficult conditions in order to perform a Shabbat Brit (B’mareh Habazak I, 32). In practice, we assume that under normal circumstances, one would agree to blow shofar for free on Rosh Hashana even if it is inconvenient.
So, while one who is capable of blowing shofar for the homebound has a responsibility to do so, it is hard to determine how much he has to extend himself, at least for free, to do so. Another pertinent factor is that a community is likely to have more than one person who is capable of blowing. If so, this lowers the responsibility on any given ba’al tokei'a, especially if he has already done his share (see B’mareh Habazak, ibid.). Even less talented ba’alei tokei'a can and should share the task of going to hospitals and house-to- house if they can do a valid job.
The Torah indeed exempts women from the mitzva of shofar (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 589:3). Consequently, although we assume that there is arvut between men and women, there is none where the woman is not obligated herself (see Shut R. Akiva Eiger I, 7). However, the minhag has been for centuries that women make every effort to fulfill the mitzva of shofar. (See Shulchan Aruch ibid.:6 regarding the b'racha.) There are discussions over whether the fact that women regularly practice this mitzva obligates them to continue doing so, as a form of neder (vow) (see Magen Avraham 489:1 regarding the counting of the omer). If it does, others would be required to help fulfill this new obligation. However, a woman’s possible obligation is less likely in a case where illness makes it difficult to fulfill the mitzva. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer, II, OC 30) rules that at least if the situation is temporary, a sick woman is exempt during her incapacitation without requiring a special hatarat nedarim (absolution of vows).
In most cases, though, the ba’al tokei'a is not practically “off the hook” from helping a sick woman hear shofar blowing. To the contrary, even if she is exempt, she has a right to ask for a chesed to enable her to continue her lifelong practice. If for no other reason, one must normally accommodate her with such a visit because of the mitzva of bikur cholim (visiting the sick).
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Moshe's declaration to the assembled Israelites comes at a most pivotal moment in our history and contains a most vital message. After forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites are about to enter Eretz Israel. This is the new generation physically toughened by the austere life of the desert and spiritually sensitized by exposure to the teachings of the Torah and by having witnessed the partial fulfillment of God's promise.
This generation is about to face new and painful dangers and challenges; the uncertainties of a changing leadership, years of warfare, a strange culture, a different sedentary way of life. Through- out Sefer D'varim Moshe had addressed them as a collective, "all of you". Now, however, Moshe turns to them and reminds them that ultimately we stand before God as individuals ("each person Israel"), each one responsible and accountable for his or her decisions and actions. As they make their way into the land, each individual will have to choose his profession, his particular way of life and what to emphasize in worshiping God.
Diaspora Jewry today finds itself similarly challenged. You too have been witness to a clear and dramatic fulfillment of a central part of the prophetic promise. Over five million Jews have returned to a sovereign Jewish state in Eretz Israel. The Jewish character of the state will be determined during the next few years by the number and religious quality of the people living there.
As we near the
completion of the reading of the Torah and approach the days of
Judgment, every individual Jew is standing before God. Precisely
because in our day, Torah authorities do not agree what sort of
mitzva is Yishuv Eretz Yisrael and whether ours is a time of the
beginning of the redemption, each individual must make his own
decision. Will you be among those who seize the opportunity to come
to live in Israel and help to shape its future? The decision and the
responsibility is yours and yours alone.
He would say, "I wish
that I could attain the level of the average Jew. The average Jew,
when Elul arrives, spends less time on his job and more time in
learning Torah and doing good deeds. But when Elul arrives, I spend
more time on my job and less time in learning Torah and doing good
2) What does the Torah mean when it says LO BASHAMYIM HI (it is not in heaven) with regard to the mitzva of teshuva? (see 30:12)
3) Moshe Rabbeinu says
SEE I HAVE PLACED BEFORE YOU TODAY THE LIFE AND THE GOOD AND THE
DEATH AND THE EVIL (15:30). Why does Moshe use the word TODAY
considering the fact that every word of his message was meant for
Jews in all generations?
2) The Kli Yakar explains that many people might fear that while they might take steps towards repentance, who is to say that this repentance will be accepted by G-D in the heavens? To counter this concern, Moshe explains that once we begin the teshuva process, G-D, as it were, automatically comes down to us and does not remain distant in the heavens.
3) Rav Moshe Feinstein
taught, based on this verse, that a person should never feel
confident in his spiritual standing. Every single day a person is
presented with new challenges in the spiritual realm and we can only
be successful once we recognize that it is a constant battle on a
daily basis as Moshe indicates with the word TODAY.
What do these words in the pasuk mean? This metaphor from the vegetable world comes to impress upon us the dangers in even insignificant evil beginnings (SHORESH - the root). ROSH V'LAANA are two of the most bitter herbs around. They can skew one's view of reality, affect one's thinking, and can even be poisonous. According to Arama, this pasuk refers to an evil thinker who wants to enjoy the privileges of being a member of the Jewish community without having any of the duties (SHALOM YEHIYEH LI KI B'SH'RIRUT LIBI EILECH). He wants to exclude himself from the Covenant (the Brit, the responsibilities) but save himself from punishment just by being a member of the community. For this, the Torah warns, G-d will not forgive him (LO YOVEH SELOACH LO).
These beliefs are the opposite of what the Torah expects from us, says Nechama Leibowitz. Each individual is supposed to take on responsibility for the community as a whole, as we see in Rambam's Hilchot T'shuva 3,4. "Every person should regard himself the whole year round as if equally balanced between guilt and innocence. The same applies to the world as a whole. One sin can tip the scales for himself and the whole world to the side of guilt and can bring destruction down on it. If he performs but one good deed, he thereby tips the scales for himself and the whole world to the side of merit and brings salvation for himself and the whole world."
Let us hope that this Rosh HaShana the blasts of the SH-O-F-AR (the first letters, roshei tevot - scrambled a bit - of SHORESH POREH ROSH V'LEANA) will uproot these and other evil bitter beliefs and bring blessing on our whole community.
ROSH - is either
hemlock or gall poppy, a species of opium poppy seeds that grows in
Eretz Yisrael. Here is a recipe for poppy seed dressing that is good
on any salad. Try it on an avocado, orange and spinach salad for a
fresh beginning to the new year.
In preparation for Court, as it were, the parsha also directs us to the all-important mitzva of Teshuva or Repentance. In essence, the Hebrew term Teshuva means "return", implying that having strayed from G-d, we must now return to Him - in thought, speech and action.
One of the most intriguing images in this week's text is found in the verses relating to our being in Exile (D'varim 30:1-5). For we are told that after contemplating the blessings and curses that transpired, not only will we find the way back to G-d, but that He, in turn, will, "bring back your captivity and have mercy on you and will gather you in from all the peoples to whom Hashem, your G-d, has scattered you."
There is a discernible repetition in this description of Hashem's act of returning the exiles. The Meshech Chochma suggests that this indicates two types of Jew. The first yearns for Eretz Yisrael and is deserving of G-d's mercy. He is the first to be returned. The other Jew seeks redemption but does not feel the loss of Eretz Yisrael. However, even he will "return" some day.
Shabbat Shalom and
Shana Tova, Menachem Persoff
Let's start with the word that brought about the reader comments. First word in the 3-pasuk portion about the first Shabbat of Creation, which we say in the Amida of Leil Shabbat, repeat it right after the Amida, and say it as the first part of Friday night Kiddush.
vai-chu-LU, accent on the last syllable, but that isn't our focus at this moment. The second letter of the word is a YUD. It has a SH'VA under it. The SH'VA is NACH. There- fore, the YUD with its SH'VA close off the first syllable of the word, VA and YUD /SH'VA make VAI.
The YUD does not sound like a Y beginning the second syllable. Not Y'CHU - the YUD belongs to the first syllable.
On the one hand, this works well for the VAV/PATACH, since the PATACH is a short vowel and a letter with a short vowel does not usually stand alone as an "open syllable". It is usually closed off by another letter with a SH'VA NACH.
The problem is the CHAF after the YUD. By the rules of DAGESH KAL, there should be one in the CHAF, since it follows a SH'VA NACH. VAI-KU-LU. But we don't say that.
Had there been a DAGESH CHAZAK in the YUD, it would have done double duty, closing off the first syllable and beginning the second syllable. Then the CHAF would not even think of getting a DAGESH. But the YUD does not have a DAGESH in it.
Nonetheless, the rule seems to be that the SH'VA is NACH, the YUD/SH'VA closes the first syllable, and the following letter does not have a DAGESH.
Apparently, this bothered some DIKDUK people in the past sufficiently that they created a new type of SH'VA, in addition to the NA and the NACH. They called it a SH'VA M'RACHEIF, a floating SH'VA.
Having a third type of SH'VA resolved the problem of the missing DAGESH from the CHAF of VAI-CHU-LU. The only problem is that there are only two types of SH'VAs.
Here's a word from NITZAVIM with the same situation. 29:18 - BIL-VA-VO. The word for his heart, L'VAVO, has a SH'VA NA under the LAMED, which precludes a DAGESH KAL in the VET that follows it. With the BET prefix making the word BIL-VAVO, in his heart, the SH'VA changes to a NACH, and it becomes part of the first syllable of the word BIL. The BET/CHIRIK is not strong enough to let the LAMED stay with the rest of the word it is part of. That's one of the unusual features of this kind of SH'VA and it is what creates resistance to pronouncing these kind of words correctly.
29:28 - Here's another
one. BANEINU, our children. L'VANEINU, to our children. The LAMED/SH'VA
NA prefixed to the word causes the the DAGESH to drop from the BET.
Not L'BANEINU, but L'VANEINU. So far, so good. Next comes the
conjunctive VAV. The VAV/SH'VA (NA) it would have been becomes an U
(SHURUK), because you cannot have two consecutive SH'VAs at the
beginning of a word. And unlike a regular SHURUK that vowels another
letter, which would produce a strong syllable by itself, this SHURUK
is weak and takes the LAMED to its syllable, changes the SH'VA from
NA to NACH and becomes UL. It might seem that the DAGESH should go
back into the VET, following a SH'VA NACH as it does, but the DAGESH
remains absent. UL-VA- NEI-NU. Not U-L'VA-NEI-NU.
Mikdash; "A Work of Heaven!"
A popular celebration in the Mikdash associated with Sukkot which served as a point of contention between the Sages and the Sadducees was the Mitzvat Ha'Arava - the "Precept of the Willow Branch". Ordained by the prophets (i.e. Haggai, Zecharia and Malachi), Mitzvat Ha'Arava had no specific source in the Written Torah,and for that reason, was unacceptable to the Sadducean High Priesthood (Sukka 44a). The Mishna reads, "…they came and set (willow branches) on the side of the Mizbei'ach so their tops were bent over the altar. Then they blew on the Shofar… Each day (the first six days of the Sukkot festival) they went in procession around the Mizbei'ach one time… but on that day (the seventh day) they circumambulated the altar seven times… As the rite was during the week, so it was on Shabbat except that then they would gather the (willow branches) on Erev Shabbat and place them in (water) in golden basins so they would not wither" (Sukka 4:5,6). The Gemara relates how on one "seventh day" which fell on Shabbat, the "Boethusians" - akin to Sadducees - removed the willow branches and hid them under stones. Confident that the Sages would not move the stones on Shabbat to retrieve the branches, they assumed that the ceremony which they opposed would be cancelled. "But the next day, some Amei Ha'aretz (who were not exactly meticulous in their observance of Mitzvot) found the branches and took them out from under the stones. The Kohanim brought them in and fixed them to the sides of the altar" (Sukka 43b).
Anchoring support posts in the ground and tying crossbeams with ropes, the workmen constructed scaffolding to facilitate their access to the upper reaches of the Bayit. The inner areas of the Bayit were built by trained Kohanim who erected enormous partitions to block the interiors of the Kodesh HaKodashim and other holy areas from public view while they were being refurbished. An idea of the kind of precautions taken by the Mikdash authorities can be gleaned from the Mishna in Midot (4:5) "And in the upper story were openings into the Kodesh HaKodashim by which they used to let down the workers in boxes, so they should not feast their eyes on the Kodesh HaKodashim." Tif'eret Yisrael (49) explains, "…the boxes (were) closed on three sides so they - the workmen - would be not able to look around". Herod's engineers, in consultation with the Mikdash authorities, took great care to ensure that the Kedusha of Kodesh HaKodashim and the other sacred areas of the Bayit was violated as little as possible. The daily Avoda continued without interruption.
"Of what did he (Herod)
build it? Rabbah (a Babylonian Amora who was born 200 years after
the Churban) said, 'Of yellow and white marble …of blue… marble'. He
(Herod) originally intended to cover it with gold but the Sages
advised him not to, since it was more beautiful as it was, looking
like the waves of the sea" (BabaBatra 4a, Sukka 51b). But headstrong
Herod, whose heart was set on a "world-class temple", was not going
to take architectural advice from anybody! Josephus writes, "Now the
outward face of the Temple in its front wanted nothing that was
likely to surprise either men's minds or their eyes; for it was
covered all over with plates of gold of great weight and at the
first rising of the sun, reflected back a very fiery splendor, and
made those who forced themselves to look upon it to turn their eyes
away, just as they would have done at the sun's own rays" (Wars,
5:5). Even the Sages were forced to admit, "He who has not seen the
Temple of Herod has never seen a beautiful building" (Baba Batra
4a). And in fact another Gemara rhapsodizes, "In the days of Herod
when the people were occupied in rebuilding the Temple, rain fell
during the night but in the morning the wind blew and the clouds
dispersed. The sun shone so the people were able to go out for their
work, and then they knew that they were engaged in the work of
Heaven" (Ta'anit 23a). But Herod, with an unerring instinct,
promptly frittered away any good will he might have garnered among
the people by placing a large gold Roman eagle over one of the
gates. When Herod was close to death, "one Judas, the son of
Saripheus, and Mathias, the son of Margalothus, two of the most
eloquent men of the Jews, and the most celebrated interpreters of
the Jewish laws …and well-beloved by the people persuaded (their
students) to pull down the golden eagle ...so in the very middle of
the day (in front of many witnesses) they got upon the place… pulled
down the eagle and cut it into pieces with axes... (They said to
Herod), '…we contrived (it) …and we performed it (the deed) and that
with such a virtuous courage as becomes men… we will undergo death
and all sorts of punishments with pleasure, since we are conscious
to ourselves that we shall die not for any unrighteous actions but
for our love for religion'. …Herod …burned Matthias, who had raised
the rebellion, with his (forty!) companions alive" (Antiquities
17:6;1-3). But the demolished Roman Eagle was not replaced.
Much to the mans surprise, his son put the puzzle of the world together in just a few minutes.
Curious, he asked his son how he had put the world together so quickly, despite the fact that he had never seen the world before?
The son replied: I saw a picture of a man on the other side of the clipping. I put the man together and realized later that I had completed the world at the same time.
ROSH HASHANA is an opportunity for us to put ourselves together as individuals. By doing so we are able to understand the world and complete it.
We would like to take this opportunity and thank all of you who have participated and contribute to our EREV LIMUD.
May we all have a
wonderful and fulfilling year! K'tiva Vachatima Tova
In loving memory of
Malka Chana Roth HY"D murdered in the Sbarro bombing, 9 Aug. ‘01,
Donations are tax-deductible. Please check our website or call for
LUNCH? When a tiyul says “bring your own lunch”, you can order one instead from the Israel Center Cafe. When you make your reservation for the tiyul, request a box lunch, or call the CAFE (ext. 257) up to the day before the TIYUL. 18nis will get you a sandwich (your choice), a refreshing drink (regular or diet) and a dessert. Your lunch will be ready for you when you board the bus.
CANCELLATION POLICIES We reserve the right to charge a cancellation fee in case of last-minute cancellations. Also... Price of tiyul is based on a minimum number of participants.
Students from Abroad Parents visiting you some time this year? If so, you want to speak to us! (566-7787 ext. 244). We have many attractive deals for them... and you. Let us turn an ordinary “been there, did it” visit into an unforgettable, special one!
KASHRUT POLICY Food for Israel Center In-House programs is supervised by OU in Israel - Mehadrin. Israel Center sponsored trips and programs are Mehadrin. Hotels, restaurants, and tiyulim advertised by the Travel Desk or by outside parties are not necessarily Mehadrin and are not endorsed by the OU or the Israel Center.
Calls from abroad:
People from abroad should fax 972-2-5660156 for the attention of The
Travel Desk or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
There is also the benefit of getting the Yom Kippur material early; it allows extra time to read through the pages in advance, thereby increasing their value on Yom Kippur itself.
VIDUI The VIDUI 12-pager is an improved version of the one from previous years. Even if you saved last year's VIDUI pages in your Machzor, replace them with this new edition.
This sheet itself has the Shir Shel Yom for Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, and the candle lighting and havdala times for the period covered by this issue.
Inside, besides the 12-page VIDUI, there is one sheet (4 pages) with Kaparot, Yom Kippur candle lighting, the special blessing for children, and havdala for Yom Kippur.
BIRKAT HABANIM A word about the blessing for children. Whether you bless your (grand)children on a weekly basis or not, consider doing it for Yom Kippur. Besides the beautiful things we ask G-d to do for our children, there is also the emotional and spiritual connection to be strengthened between parent and child. Late afternoon of Erev Yom Kippur is a special time for each Jew. We are about to have a very personal encounter with G-d, and we hope that the relationship is best described as that of Father and child. Birkat HaBanim can put us into the receptive mood for that kind of a relationship with HaShem.
Extra word for those who haven't "done" this blessing in past years. Resist inertia; don't use "we don't do that stuff" as an excuse. "My father didn't do that." Give it a try. It is (can be) a wonderful experience on both sides. If you get choked up, let the tears come; don't hold them back. They are good for you and good for your children.
ROSH HASHANA PULL-OUT In last week's TT, there was the candle lighting and havdala chart for the coming year 5766. If you do not have one, or want extra to give to others, stop by the Center - while supply lasts.
There is another sheet
that we sent in the Rosh HaShana mailing, but did not include in
Torah Tidbits. It contains Kiddush and Havdala for Rosh HaShana and
the YEHI RATZONs for the first night's special foods. These too are
available at the front desk, for the asking - while supplies last.
Ktiva vachatima tova
A Shofar need not be made specifically for the mitzva of Shofar. If a horn from an acceptable animal is fashioned into a blowable instrument, even by non-Jews, it can be used to fulfill the mitzva.
Unless the horn was
processed for the sake of an idolatry, Then it would be envalid. So
next time you are in Nairobi...
KAPAROT is often misunderstood. It is NOT a shortcut to atonement. For real atonement, we must approach HaShem with sincere repentance, mitzvot and good deeds, prayer and fasting. KAPAROT is a sobering reminder of the frailty of life, an inspiration to T'shuva, AND a way of involving us in G'MILUT CHASADIM before Yom Kippur.
Ideally, "do" Kaparot on Erev Yom Kippur in the morning. The text on this page is meant for those who use money rather than chickens. Those who use chickens (or fish) can find the standard text in a Machzor or Siddur.
Many people use a multiple of CHAI, such as 1.80, 3.60, 5.40... 18.00š, etc. Some suggest that the amount taken for KAPAROT should at least be the cost of a chicken (20-30NIS). The money should ideally be given to TZEDAKA before Yom Kippur. Shuls provide collection plates at Mincha on Erev Yom Kippur for that purpose.
Hold the money in your
right hand and say the following passage 3 times:
Candles are lit in the "usual" Shabbat candles manner: light them, cover your eyes, make the brachot, then open your eyes and "benefit" from the light. When a woman lights Yom Kippur candles, she accepts upon herself ALL the restrictions of Yom Kippur - both the Fast Day aspect as well as the Shabbat-work restrictions.If there is a compelling reason to do so, a woman may make a (mental/verbal) condition that she is not yet taking upon herself Yom Kippur with the lighting. In such a case, she should NOT say SHE'HE'CHE- YANU with lighting (she does say L'HADLIK), but waits until shul to say it with the congregation, after Kol Nidrei and before Maariv.
A woman who says SHE'HE'CHE'YANU at candle lighting, does not repeat it in shul.
She should, of course, answer AMEN when the Chazan and congregation says it.
The main function of
Shabbat & Yom Tov candles is to have light and the pleasant
atmosphere it brings, at night, especially during the meal. With no
meal on Yom Kippur, one should use the light of Yom Kippur candles
upon return from shul in order to justify the bracha. No handling
them, of course, but perhaps one can reada bit by the lights,
prepare for bed, or something like that.
The standard practice in most communities is to recite the Psalm of the Day as usual. That is, the regular Psalms for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday respectively.
Minhag Yerushalayim, mostly based on the opinions of the Vilna Gaon, is to say a special Psalm of the day on holidays, INSTEAD of the day's regular Psalm.
Since most Machzorim and Siddurim do not have the special Psalms for the holidays, we include them here.
The following chapter of T'hilim (81) is said on BOTH days of Rosh HaShana (unless it is Shabbat). (Looks familiar? It is the regular Psalm for Thursdays.)
Many people/shuls who
do not follow Minhag Yerushalayim, will add the Rosh HaShana Psalm
to the regular one of the day of the week.
T'hilim (32) is said on
Yom Kippur (unless it falls on Shabbat, in which case Shabbat's Ps.
92 supersedes that of YK)
We do not use B'SAMIM
on Motza'ei Yom Kippur (unless YK is on Shabbat), nor do we say the
introductory p'sukim to havdala (HINEI KEIL...)
Also, added to each
word of the ASHAMNU part of VIDUI are other sins associated with the
same letter of the Alef-Bet, which the CHAYEI ADAM and other sources
recommend be on one's mind, in one's heart, (and from one's lips),
during VIDUI. The alphabetical presentation of ASHAMNU does not mean
that there are only 24 sins or kinds of sin; rather, it is meant to
convey that we - as individuals and as a community - have sinned
"from ALEF to TAV", or, as we say in English, "from A to Z". The
letter BET, for example, stands for BAGADNU, we have betrayed. In
addition to referring to betrayal of G-d by the commission of
certain sins, and of any sin with a particular attitude, and in
addition to referring to betrayal of family and/or friends, the
letter BET also represents, and should remind us of, the sins of
wasting time (e.g. from davening, Torah study), i.e. BITUL Z'MAN
(ours and others'), the sins of improper recitation of b'rachot
(including BRACHA L'VATALA, brachot and benching without proper
KAVANA...), improper attention to the laws of BASAR B'CHALAV
(meat/milk), and many others with the letter BET. Just because a
particular sin is not singled out on the alphabetical ASHAMNU list
or in the double-Alef-Bet list of the AL CHEITs, does not mean that
it should not be part of verbal VIDUI. It brings to mind an old
Peanuts comic strip, where Lucy "helpfully" prepared a list of
Charlie Brown's shortcomings for him. She tells him that she
alphabetized them for his convenience. The fact that every single
letter of the Alef-Bet has several entries, certainly makes a strong
point for us.
Sometimes, the VIDUI is the starting point - that which calls your attention to areas of behavior and thought that need improvement. Either way - BOTH ways, VIDUI is an essential part of the T'shuva process.Verbalization is often that which allows one to focus on personal shortcomings and embark on the road to repentance and/or to firm up one's resolve to repent.
Remember, T'shuva is one of the greatest gifts from G-d to His people (us). It is the expression of His Divine Mercy and Love. If He did not want us to straighten ourselves out, He would simply punish us without giving us a second (and third and fourth and fifth...) chance to repent. Our motivations for T'shuva should befear AND love of G-d. The challenge is awesome, but it is always possible for one to change for the better. Step by step.
Never be discouraged by what seems to be too formidable a task. Be encouraged by the fact that this is what G-d wants of us - not to punish us, but for us to return to Him in strengthened faith, in better performance of mitzvot - qualitatively and quantitatively, and to more carefully avoid the pitfalls of sin - against G-d and in our interaction and conduct with our fellow human beings and Jews - parents, children, spouses, family, friends, colleagues, and strangers.
REMINDER: Interpersonal sins - intentional or inadvertent - require forgiveness from the injured party AND from G-d (usually in that order).
The pasuk YIH-YU L'RATZON (YL) is T'hilim 19:15 and appears twice in siddurim and machzorim at the end of each Amida, once right after Hamevarech et amo Yisrael Bashalom, which is the end of the 19, 7, or 9 brachot that make up the Amida (weekday, Shabbat & Yom Tov, RH Musaf respectively) and then again right before one takes three steps back to conclude the "full" Amida, with the addition of rumb 'hvkwt and, in our case of Yom Kippur davening, the whole VIDUI section The situation is best understood by saying that the "original" Amida was "just" the set of brachot, 3 brachot of praise and description at the beginning, 3 brachot of thanks and acknowledgement at the end, and 13, 1, or 3 middle brachot.
Then, our Sages
appended other passages to the Amida, in essence extending the Amida
until we close it with YL and then take our steps back. Some say YL
in both places, in other words, before and after VIDUI. If this is
your minhag, then continue to do so. There is a strong argument for
the other opinion, namely to say it only at the end (right before
taking the steps back), which makes VIDUI more a part of the Amida
than an appendix to it. However, if one needs to "interrupt" VIDUI
for K'DUSHA, Kaddish, or the like, then you should say YL wherever
you are up to, join the congregation in K'DUSHA, saying the 3 main
K'DUSHA p'sukim, or respond to Kaddish, etc. and then continue
saying VIDUI. YL is then said again at the end. In other words, this
second opinion is to say YL only once, unless necessary, as just
This simple statement is the first step of VIDUI - we have sinned.
For each of the following 24 "terms of sin", one symbolically strikes the left side of his/her chest with the right fist. Before or after saying the word itself, sight-read (or say) the English text and allow your mind and heart to really become part of the VIDUI process by backing up your words. Don't hesitate to actually say more than the text - in any language - adding personal prayers, thoughts, and feelings. TALK TO G-D. This is a special time to do that. (Don't worry about being slower than others; just find a good place to stand where you will not inconvenience others.)
The first part of the English text is based on the word itself. Then are SOME of the items included by Rabbi Moshe Sternbach in HaDerech L'T'shuva. Remember that the connection is based on the Alef-Bet - not obvious from the English.
Also, keep in mind that we must repent once-in-a-while violations - not just whole behavior patterns. E.g. "We have eaten questionable foods." This is not just for a person who doesn't keep kosher; it is also for a person who is strictly kosher, but once in a rare while will say "this product is PROBABLY okay even without a Hashgacha", etc. Or - one is usually sensitive to the feelings of others, but thought something was SO funny, that he just had to share it with others. Etc. Etc. Etc.
We have become guilty... of a whole variety of sins. What we have done was not necessarily to rebel against G-d, but we nonetheless are devastated by our behavior [We have eaten - forbidden foods, questionable foods, without brachot, without proper manners and concern for others; there is something lacking in our faith in G-d (even just sometimes); we don't always say Amen properly, we have a cruel streak...]
We have betrayed G-d by
not doing His mitzvot properly and by doing certain sins in a way
that is disloyal to G-d; we have betrayed family & friends
We have stolen —
things, time, someone’s sleep, ideas; we have deceived others
We have slandered — G-d
(by questioning His justice and kindness) and people. We has said
one thing and meant something else.
Remember: whether habitual behavior or only once in a while, T'shuva is necessary.
We have caused
perversion, corrupted others
And we have caused wickedness; caused others to sin [we have neglected to be properly respectful of G-d; showed lack of concern for the possessions of others; said we're sorry without trying to mean it; fomented dissent; joined with others and wasted time on nonsense...]
We have sinned intentionally, and then have rationalized our behavior (making T'shuva all the more difficult) [We have taken G-d's Name in vain; been careless about ritual washing of our hands; been disrespectful to our parents; we "ate like pigs"; threw food around, mingled immodestly...]
We have extorted; we have taken advantage of those weaker than us; we have pressured others to give in to us [we have caused Chilul HaShem; we have falsely flattered others; thought bad thoughts; unjustly suspected others of wrongdoing; desecrated the Shabbat; not paid our debts; desired (in an unhealthy manner) the possessions of others...]
We have "attached" ourselves to falsehood; lying has become a part of our lives; we have accused others falsely; compounded lies by lying more; hung out with the "wrong crowd" [we have given erroneous opinions and advice; defiled ourselves and others; handled Muktza on Shabbat or Yom Tov; belittled Good and chosen Bad...]
We have given evil counsel; we have abused the trust of others; advised others in ways that are not in their best interest [we have secluded ourselves improperly with members of the opposite sex; joined others in time-wasting activities; knowingly sinned; lacked proper reverence & awe for G-d...]
We have been deceitful; made intentionally misleading statements; false promises; have not tried hard enough to keep our promises [we have made HaShem angry at us; been ungrateful; intended to harm others (even if we didn't); wasted time; delayed paying wages; called others derogatory nicknames...]
We have clowned around about matters that we should have treated seriously; we have ridiculed good people; we've made a joke of things that prevents us from proper repentance because we don't take things seriously enough [we have not learned Torah properly; worn Shaatnez; not been kind & charitable; not been meticulous about mitzvot & halacha; not been scrupulous in our dealings with others...]
We have rebelled; defied G-d's will; sinned because of lack of complete faith [we have held others back from doing mitzvot; not behaved properly in business...]
We have angered G-d by disregarding His mitzvot, etc. [we violated promises and vows; took revenge and bore grudges; benefited from this world without brachot; were lazy in Torah learning and service of HaShem...]
We have turned away, ignored our responsibilities to G-d (and to our fellows) [we have turned from Jewish customs; contradicted our parents or Torah authorities; dealt with contraband; forgiven others in word, but not in our hearts...]
We have been perverse and have sinned because of perverted reasoning; we have deliberately sinned to gratify our desires [we have been falsely modest; a burden to our spouse; we were insensitive to orphans & widows; we have violated (minor) prohibitions...]
We have acted wantonly; we have denied the validity of (some) mitzvot; we basically believe in G-d and Torah, but have disregarded a specific mitzva [we have rejected the Yoke of Heaven; we were afraid to reproach someone; we turned our hearts to idleness; we opened someone else's mail; we lacked fear of sin...]
We have persecuted others; caused others to suffer; been callous to others [we have distressed our family members; we put our needs before G-d's...]
We have been stubborn; we have refused to see G-d's Hand in life; we have ignored or denied that what happens in this world is not chance, but G-d's Will [we have been jealous of others; been stingy with Tzedaka; read improper books; listened to and accepted Lashon HaRa; not been careful with Kriyat Sh'ma...]
We have been wicked; done sins that are particularly identified with wickedness, such as hitting others, stealing, planning to sin [we have pursued honor; quarreled for no good reason; ran after temptations...]
We have corrupted our character; been arrogant; been extremely angry; vulgar - sins which affect one's character [we have lied; forgotten G-d and our commitment to Him; were silent when we should have objected;gloated over another's misfortune; hated others; squandered physical & spiritual energies...]
We have been abominable; have become loathsome to G-d; immorality; idolatry;haughtiness; anger [we have desired sinful things; belittled the Torah; we did not take the opportunity to repent; were not careful with our T'filin; were sloppy with davening...]
We have strayed; drifted further away from G-d rather than getting closer to Him
You have let us go astray (we lost the merit to benefit from Your help); we have misused freedom of choice for ourselves and caused others to do the same
What can we say to You, G-d; You know everything; nothing is hidden before You...
Therefore, may it be Your will that You forgive, pardon, and atone our many sins...
After summarizing, we once again use an alphabetical format (this time it’s a double alphabetical arrangement) to enumerate a multitude of sins. And once again, the custom is to strike the heart (left side of the chest) for each AL CHEIT...
For the sin that we have sinned before You...
accidentally (or under duress) and willingly - even when we don't mean to sin, we still have to repent, for it indicates some lack in us that a sin was done by us. How much more so, when it is intentional
through hardness of the heart - refusing to admit that we might be wrong often results in sin. We have to be more humble..
through ignorance -
lack of Torah learning results in doing the wrong thing. Rather than
plead ignorance, we must strive for greater knowledge
in public or in private - sins in public are potential desecration of G-d's Name; sins in private often indicate fear of what others will think, but a disregard for what G-d thinks. Both are bad.
through immorality - this includes a wide variety of sins and includes the sins themselves as well as that which a person does that causes lust and leads to the more serious sins...
with harsh speech - generally, this refers to misuse of the power of speech in all forms; specifically, it refers to speaking harshly to someone and unjustly hurting his feelings.
with knowledge and
deceit - refers to using our knowledge in order to deceive and take
advantage of others. Also includes deceiving ourselves.
through wronging a fellow - deceiving, taking advantage of a friend, etc.; also refers to unfair treatment in business
by insincere confession - T'shuva must be "in your mouth and in your heart, to do..." Let our words motivate us to sincere repentance and let our sincere repentance be accompanied by proper VIDUI
in immoral gatherings - being part of a group whose conversations are improper can easily lead one astray. "But everyone else was there!"
willfully and carelessly - even when we did not mean to sin, we have what to repent - we should have been more careful, etc.
by belittling parents (in-laws, too) and teachers - this is not only something we do or say, but even something we think. It all is wrong AND it threatens the strength of the Chain of Tradition.
by exercising power - it is wrong to use one's power to intimidate others; one must not arrogantly act superior over others.
through desecration of G-d's Name - this includes major Chilul HaShem as well as relatively minor acts which cause a lowering of one's respect for G-d or Torah. through foolish speech - "why do we say stupid things sometimes?" One has to repent this too, since speech is such a precious and powerful feature of human beings. Foolish speech often leads to more sin.
through impure lips - this is one of several references to improper speech; in this case, the subject is vulgar language and cursing.
with the Evil Inclination - we sometimes fail to fight our Yeitzer HaRa, and rather flirt with it, then give in to it and follow it.
knowingly and unknowingly - we want to repent even sins that we are unaware of having committed. Also, sins against others who know or don't even know what we've said about or done to them.
PLEASE NOTE: G-d's name is pronouonced e-LO-ahh (Ashkenazi) or e-LOwahhh (S'faradi) - NOT ELOHA. Two points: the accent is on the LO syllable, not the ©V. And secondly, the PATACH under the HEI is pronounced BEFORE the aspiration of the HEI. (Just like it is with the ©j of TAPU'ACH)
For all of these sins, G-d of Forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, atone for us.
(These are different levels of forgiveness - commentators disagree on the terminology. Basically, we ask G-d to forgive what we've done, not to punish us for it, not to even hold a sin against us, and to completely erase it, as if we never did it. Some beat fist over heart for S'LACH, M'CHAL, and KAPEIR)
by yielding to bribery - monetary bribery as well as flattery with ulterior motives are insidious to honest dealings among people. Bribery and flattery can blind one and cause a multitude of sins in its wake.
through denial and false promises - we have not been honest, neither with G-d nor with our fellow human beings. Remember: this need not be a chronic condition, we must repent even the minor instances of dishonestly.
with Lashon HaRa - another misuse of the power of speech. A particularly serious sin because it often results in permanent damage to one's reputation, even when groundless. "But it's true" is not an acceptable excuse for Lashon HaRa. Neither is "I was only joking".
through fooling around - not taking someone's reproach of us seriously, laughing it off, will impede T'shuva. Ridiculing others, joking at someone else's expense are serious offenses.
in business - the laws of business ethics and proper behavior in the market place are just as much a part of Halacha as is fasting on Yom Kippur. Since it often causes a Chilul HaShem and because it is often disregarded by many, it is to be treated very seriously.
with food & drink - one should not pat himself on the back for keeping kosher; one needs to carefully answer the question: "Am I as careful and as strict as I ought to be?" "Do I cut corners?" Included in this category of sin is not making brachot properly, sloppy benching, careless washing for meals, poor table manners,gluttony, stinginess with guests
through interest and
extortion - taking or paying interest on personal loans is
forbidden. Besides the sin, it causes one to become hard-hearted.
with prying eyes - this
includes looking at forbidden things, invasion of privacy of others,
expressing disapproval of others with a raised eyebrow
with haughty eyes - looking down at others. This is parallel to the earlier reference to haughtiness, a particularly negative trait
with brazenness - acting without shame and a bit of natural embarrassment is a contributory factor to a host of other sins
in throwing off the Yoke - we exist to learn Torah, perform mitzvot, and be good people. Many sins come from shirking our responsibilities.
in judgment - refers to sins of unfair judgment, in the formal courtroom as well as in everyday life. It even refers to judging G-d.
through entrapping a fellow - taking advantage of others, manipulating people for our own purposes
through a begrudging
eye - being jealous and stingy. Finding excuses for not giving
Tzedaka or being generous with others. Not helping others.
with stubbornness - refusing to recognize that we might be wrong. Not learning from experience. Not taking constructive criticism. This is a major obstacle to T'shuva, and we must repent this in order to repent otherwise.
enthusiastically - One must examine his wrongdoings and see if there is the added sin of doing them with a smile or with "licking one's lips"
by gossiping - The prohibition includes Lashon HaRa and character assassination, but also includes telling tales "just like this" with no intention to hurt anyone. It is all too frequent that people get hurt from plain gossip.
through vain oaths - swearing falsely or frivolously can damage the underpinnings of interpersonal relationships as well as being a serious lack of respect to G-d. One has to be extremely careful in this regard.
through baseless hatred - do you hate a person when you should really be hating the wrong things that he does?. This distinction is crucial for the proper growth and development of Klal Yisrael.
in matters of "giving a hand" - we have been callous towards the needs of others. Also, we have sometimes joined with others in evil.
through confusion - this refers to a diminished faith in G-d caused by not seeing G-d's hand in everything and by doubting the validity of the Torah and the authority of halacha.
After enumerating different kinds of sins, we ask for forgiveness of sins according to punishment and style:
For sins which would require a sacrifice in the Beit HaMikdash, then for those which one gets corporal or capital punishment from Beit Din, or penalties from Heaven.
Then we mention sins of commission and omission, sins we know about and those of which we - but not G-d - are unaware
G-d, before I was born, I was nothing. Now that I have been born, it's as if I wasn't...
(This is not just saying humble things, it is a realization - perhaps that comes from the exhaustive list of sins and our realization of what we are guilty of - that we truly don't have the right to ask for G-d's forgivemness, but we must ask, otherwise we are totally lost.)
May it be Your will... that I shall not sin anymore, and what I have sinned before You, please, in Your abundant mercy, wipe off my slate, but NOT with difficulties and hardships...
(This is a lot to ask for, but it is being asked of the One with the infinite capacity to forgive... and of the One Who has and wants - so to speak - a special, unique relationship with Bnei Yisrael...)
The Amida of Yom Kippur concludes with the same passages as every Amida throughout the year does. But just because we say these words all the time, does not mean that we should not invest in them a special KAVANA for Yom Kippur, which will hopefully have a positive affect on these same words when we continue to say them beyond Yom Kippur.
In addition to the pasuk for your name (if that is your custom), use this point, right before you conclude the Amida to talk some more to G-d.
Vidui for Ne’ila
What can we say to You, G-d; You know everything; nothing is hidden before You...
You extend Your hand to sinners and reach out to accept those who do T’shuva...
You have taught us to say VIDUI (and to do T’shuva) for all our sins, so that we would stop doing wrong and You would accept us as true repenters... as You promised.
There is no limit to the korbanot that we would have to bring because of our sins...
And You know that we are headed to the grave, therefore You have abundantly forgiven us.
What are we? What is our lives? What is our virtue? ...
What can we say before You, HaShem... all the mighty people are like nothing before You, and people of repute are as if they don’t exist, wise people are without wisdom, and intelligent people without understanding... for most of their deeds and their lives are worthless before You; Humans are not far above animals, for all is vanity.
Yet You had originally singled out human beings to stand before You...
And You gave us Yom Kippur with love, as the culmination of forgiveness, so that we may stop our wrongdoings, return to You, to do Your will with a full heart.
And You with Your great mercy, have mercy on us, because You don't want the world's destruction as it says: Seek out G-d when He is to be found; call to Him when He is near. And it says: Let the wicked abandon their evil ways... let him return to G-d Who will be kind to him... for He is abundantly forgiving.
And You, G-d of Forgiveness, are gracious and merciful, slow to anger, very kind and true... You want the T'shuva of the sinner and do not want his death, as it says...
And it also says: Return, return from your wayward path; why should you die, "House of Israel"
And it says: What, I should want a wicked person to die? Let him repent and live.
And it says: For I do not want the death of the wicked ones - rather their return... and they should live.
For You are the Forgiver of Israel and the Pardoner of the tribes of Yeshurun, in all generations, and without You there is no king who forgives and pardons.
G-d, until I was formed, I had no value; and now that I have been formed, it is as if I wasn't yet formed. I am dust in my life, how much more so in my death. I am before You like a vessel filled with shame and disgrace.
May it be Your will
that I should not sin any more, and for what I have sinned before
You, cleanse me of them with Your abundant mercy, but not through
suffering and illness.