Hamaayan / The Torah Spring
Edited by Shlomo Katz
Volume XIII, No. 49
10 Tishrei 5760
September 20, 1999
Ma'aser Sheni 3:2-3
Orach Chaim 167:10-12
Daf Yomi: Megillah 14
There is no Daf Yomi in the
Talmud Yerushalmi on Yom Kippur
Because Yom Kippur does not atone until one appeases his
neighbor, one should be certain to recite the following
prayer which is printed in some machzorim:
"I extend complete forgiveness to everyone who has sinned
against me, whether physically or monetarily, or who has gossiped
about me or even slandered me; so, too, anyone who has injured
me, whether physically or financially, and for any human sins
between man and his neighbor - except for money that I wish to
claim and that I can recover by law, and except for someone who
sins against me and says, `I will sin against him and he will
forgive me' - except for these, I grant complete forgiveness, and
may no person be punished on my account.
"And just as I forgive everyone, so may You grant me favor in
every person's eyes so that he will grant me complete
Rabbenu Yonah z"l writes: "Although we are commanded to repent
at all times, on Yom Kippur there is an added mitzvah." If so,
writes R' Dovid Kronglas z"l, if a person repents on Yom Kippur
from his sins, he performs two positive commandments. Also,
since a prerequisite to repentance is confession, he performs the
additional, independent mitzvah of vidui/confession. Thus, he
performs three mitzvot in all.
These three mitzvot are multiplied by each sin for which a
person repents. For example, if a person repents from the sin of
bittul Torah/failing to take advantage of the time he had
available for Torah study, he is credited with performing three
mitzvot. When he repents from speaking lashon hara, he acquires
another three mitzvot.
Moreover, if a person spoke lashon hara multiple times or
repeatedly failed to study as much Torah as he could have, each
separate occasion for which he repents results in three
additional mitzvot being added to his account. In this way, his
merits quickly add up.
On the other hand, if a person fails to repent on Yom Kippur,
he neglects those three separate mitzvot. That neglect is
similarly multiplied in the heavenly books by the numbers of sins
for which one does not repent, such that every sin becomes four
sins (i.e., the original sin plus three). (Sichot Chochmah
U'mussar Vol. I, p.220)
The Role of Teshuvah
Three books are opened on Rosh Hashanah - one is the book of
the completely wicked, one is the book of the completely
righteous, and the third is the book of "benonim"/"in-between
people." The fates of the wicked and the righteous are inscribed
and sealed on Rosh Hashanah, while the fate of the benonim hangs
in the balance until Yom Kippur. If they merit, i.e., if they do
teshuvah, they are inscribed for life;, if not, they are
inscribed for death.
(Rosh Hashanah 16b, as explained by Rambam)
R' Yitzchak Blazer z"l ("R' Itzele Petersburger") asks: Rambam
defines a "benoni" (singular of "benonim") as a person whose
mitzvot and sins are perfectly balanced (qualitatively, not
necessarily quantitatively). If so, why does a benoni have to
repent in order to be inscribed for life? Let him simply do
another mitzvah and thus tip the scales to the side of merit.
R' Blazer answers: The failure to do teshuvah is itself a grave
sin, as Rabbenu Yonah z"l writes in his Sha'arei Teshuvah:
Know, that when a sinner delays in returning from his
sin, his punishment weighs heavier on him every day, for
he knows that he has angered G-d and that he has an
escape, i.e., teshuvah, yet he persists in his rebellion.
The midrash compares such a fool to a prisoner who finds a tunnel
leading out of his jail cell, yet who does not escape. Is that
not an insult to the king, for it shows the king that the
prisoner does not fear being in his custody? So, too, a person
who fails to repent when given the chance tells Hashem, "I do not
fear Your judgment."
This is why it is imperative for the benoni to repent before
Yom Kippur. Doing extra mitzvot, but not teshuvah, will not tip
the scales towards merit. To the contrary, the failure to repent
will tip the scales inexorably towards the opposite side.
(Kochvei Ohr No. 5)
R' Aryeh Pomeranchik z"l offers a different answer to R'
Blazer's question. He explains: The heavenly scales are taken
out only once a year, on Rosh Hashanah. If a person fails to be
judged a tzaddik on Rosh Hashanah, he cannot tip the scales by
doing another mitzvah, because immediately after the scales are
used, they are put away.
Not only that, a person who was not judged on Rosh Hashanah to
be a tzaddik stands indicted before the heavenly court. The only
way that such a person can be written in the book of life after
Rosh Hashanah is to get that indictment dismissed. The way to
achieve that is teshuvah.
(Emek Berachah p.146)
Yet another answer may be provided by the observation of R'
Dovid Kronglas z"l quoted on the front page of this issue. If a
person fails to repent, his sins are multiplied by four. The
likelihood of a person's performing enough mitzvot to tip the
scales in his favor thus becomes very small.
An Astonishing Midrash
"You shall afflict your soul on the ninth of the month"
(Vayikra 23:32) - Do we then fast on the ninth? We fast on the
tenth! However, this teaches that one is rewarded for eating on
the ninth to the same extent that he is rewarded for fasting on
the tenth. This is why we light candles for Shabbat."
Why does one eat on Erev Yom Kippur? It is merely to prepare
for fasting on Yom Kippur. Nevertheless, the reward for this
preparation is equal to the reward for the fast itself. This
knowledge, says the midrash, should enhance one's appreciation of
the simple act of lighting candles in preparation for Shabbat.
Chazal say that one cannot achieve atonement unless he appeases
those against whom he has sinned. Some say that one cannot
achieve atonement even for his sins against G-d unless he has
properly atoned for his sins against man, and received
(Kaf Hachaim 606:3)
Why? Because atoning only for some sins is like immersing part
of one's body in a mikveh. Obviously, one does not attain purity
by doing so.
An Open Letter from the Chafetz Chaim z"l entitled:
"Why Are You Sleeping? An Awakening to Repentance"
Erev Yom Kippur 5285/1924
With G-d's help!
A few weeks ago, I publicized an essay regarding the earthquake
which occurred in our Holy Land in which I urged the Jewish
people to repent. This earthquake, I wrote, was a warning to the
world that it should repent from its evil ways and should believe
in Hashem, from whose hand everything comes. It is not by
coincidence that heard all of the horrible news of this past year
has reached us.
Now, we have heard a new and terrible story - the earthquake
which occurred in Russia, in which thousands of men, women,
children and animals were killed, and in some cases, people's
homes became their graves. Even in our land [Poland], we felt
that earthquake slightly. Certainly, every thoughtful person
should be gripped by fear and trembling, asking, "What is this
that Hashem has done to us?" Is He not good, and does He not do
good to all? Is not His mercy upon all of His creations such
that He does not desire the death of anyone, even the wicked?
Obviously, a thoughtful person will understand that He is urging
us to repent and He is showing us that He is all-powerful.
Since, today, we do not have prophets, He uses other messengers.
When Hashem dispatched Yonah to Nineveh, Yonah did not wish to
go, since he knew that the repentance of the gentile Ninevehites
would reflect badly on Jews who do not repent. Instead, he tried
to flee to the diaspora, reasoning that Hashem does not speak to
prophets outside of Eretz Yisrael and G-d would leave him alone.
What happened? A powerful storm struck the ship that carried
Yonah and the ship was close to sinking. The ship's captain
called to Yonah, who was below deck, "Why are you sleeping? Get
up, and call to your G-d!" This is no time for sleeping! We
have no leg to stand on except prayer.
When we see that the attribute of justice is operating against
the world, it is amazing to me - even though all the warnings of
Nettaneh Tokef have come to pass - that no one pays attention.
We must believe that this is a warning from Hashem to repent, for
who knows what tomorrow will bring, especially if we do not
repent! [At this point, the Chafetz Chaim listed major areas
where he saw that improvement was needed, including the need to
be more meticulous in observing Shabbat properly.]
The main point is that every person who has the ability to
encourage the members of his household, his friends, and his
acquaintances to repent is obligated to do so. Let him not
delay, so that the merits of the public will be his. May Hashem
show him how to repent fully and bless him with a year of life
and peace and redemption for us and for all of Yisrael.
Bert Anker, Judy Gabel
and Harvey Anker
on the yahrzeit of their father,
Moe Anker a"h
Rochelle Dimont and family
on the yahrzeit of
husband and father,
Rabbi Albert Dimont a"h
Copyright © 1998 by Shlomo Katz
and Project Genesis, Inc.
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