Torah Tidbits This
'n That - READ THIS FIRST
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.
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 a custom that dates back to the time of the Gaonim. Traditionally, one uses a chicken - rooster for a male, hen for a female, (at least) one of each for a pregnant woman. Through the years, there were problems with improper attention paid to the slaughter of the chickens, due to the large demand for slaughter on Erev YK. Since Kaparot chickens were to be prepared and given to poor people, there developed in some communities the practice of using money instead, which is given to TZEDAKA, thereby seeing to the needs of the poor and alleviating the above mentioned problem.
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.