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Chapter 131:2-5
Erev Yom Kippur

2. [On the day preceding Yom Kippur,] we omit "Mizmor L'sodoh," "Tachanun," and "Lam'natzeach" [from the morning prayers]. [Although the prayer] "Avinu Malkenu" [is recited throughout the Ten Days of Repentance], it is not recited on the day preceding Yom Kippur. If, however, Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos, "Avinu Malkenu" is recited in the morning service of the previous day.

3. [On Erev Yom Kippur,] it is a mitzvah to partake generously of food and drink. Whoever eats and drinks on the day preceding Yom Kippur for the sake of this mitzvah is treated [by G-d] as if he had fasted on that day as well. It is a mitzvah to eat fish during the first meal of the day.

4. Yom Kippur itself does not atone for the sins a person has committed against his fellow man unless one appeases the person one has wronged, as implied by [Leviticus 16:30]: "For on this day He shall atone for you, to purify you of all your sins before G-d." In other words, Yom Kippur will atone only for those sins that are "before G-d." In contrast, those sins that are between man and man will not be atoned for on Yom Kippur unless one has appeased one's colleague.

Therefore, a person should check to see if he has money in his possession which rightfully belongs to someone else; if he does, he should return it, and appease the person [before Yom Kippur]. If he possesses money regarding which he has doubts as to whether it rightfully belongs to him or not, he should notify his colleague (to whom the money might belong) and agree to bring the question before a Torah court ("Beis Din") directly after Yom Kippur, earnestly resolving to accept the decisions of the court.

Even if one wronged a colleague only verbally, one must appease him; [in fact], he, himself, is obligated to go and appease him in person. Nevertheless, if this is difficult for him to do, or if he realizes that it will be more effective through a third party, he may send someone else.

A person who is asked to forgive a colleague should do so with a full heart; he should not be cruel [and refuse], because this is not a characteristic of the descendants of Israel ("Zerah Yisroel"). On the contrary, it is a quality associated with Esau, as [Amos 1:11] states: "His wrath is preserved forever." Similarly, due to the fact that the Gibonites refused to forgive or to be appeased, [II Samuel 21:2] states: "the Gibonites are not of the Children of Israel."

In contrast, the way of the progeny of Israel is to be "hard to anger and easy to appease" [Ovos 5:11]. When a person who has wronged another asks for forgiveness, he should forgive him willingly, with a full heart. Even if the other person has caused him much anguish, he should not seek revenge or bear a grudge. On the contrary, if the person who wronged him does not motivate himself to come and ask for forgiveness, the person who was wronged should make himself accessible to the other person, so that he will ask for forgiveness.

When one does not try to wipe away hatred [from his heart] on Yom Kippur, one's prayers will not be heard, Heaven forbid. Conversely, when a person overlooks his negative feelings [and is tolerant and forgiving], his sins will be overlooked [by G-d].

5. If the person whom one wronged has died (before he had the chance to appease him and ask for forgivness), one should bring ten people to his grave and make the following declaration: "I sinned against the G-d of Israel and against this man (and insert his name)." The assembled then say the words, "You are forgiven," three times. The person who committed the wrong should go barefoot. He should also mention the wrong he committed, unless doing so would be an embarrassment for the deceased.

If the grave of the deceased is more than three "parso'os" (1) from the place where the person who committed the sin lives, he need not go to the grave personally. It is sufficient to send an emissary. The latter should take ten people to the grave and say, "I am the emissary of --- to make a public statement that --- sent me to ask forgiveness for having sinned against...:"

If a person disgraced ("cheref") a colleague after his death, he does not have to go to his grave to ask for forgiveness. It is sufficient to ask for forgiveness in the place where he disgraced him. If he slandered him ("hotzi sheim rah"), he must also resolve to repent for transgressing a ban enacted by the Sages of the earlier generations against those who slander the dead.

FOOTNOTES:

(1) A "parsah" is approximately 2.8 miles.

 

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