A Happy Day
Volume 22, No. 53
10 Tishrei 5769
October 9, 2008
Bert Anker and Judy Gabel
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
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Gittin 90
Begin Masechet Kiddushin on Friday
Daf Yomi (Yerushalmi): None
Our Sages teach that the happiest days on the Jewish calendar are the
Fifteenth of the month of Av and Yom Kippur. In what sense is Yom Kippur
a happy day? To the contrary, Yom Kippur would seem to be a somber day,
even a day of dread!
Over the course of Yom Kippur, the confession that begins with the
word "Ashamnu" is recited ten times. In many congregations, the
worshipers recited this confession in unison to an almost joyous tune.
Why is such a tune appropriate?
R' Reuven Sasson shlita explains (based on the teachings of R'
Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook z"l):
Ashamnu is at once a confession, i.e., an acceptance of
responsibility, and also a rebuke against oneself that comes from deep
within one's soul. The soul, which by its very nature is connected to G-
d, always objects to sin. Ashamnu is a declaration, "I do not want this
sin." Thus, Ashamnu is uplifting, even joyous. Its purpose is not so
that one will wallow in his sins, but, to the contrary, to liberate
oneself from them. So long as one has not confessed, the halachic
principle of "shetikah k'hodaah" / "Silence is acquiescence" is operative,
i.e., one is considered to be accepting of his sins.
Certainly, confession has its painful aspect, i.e., one's acceptance
of responsibility for his own shortcomings and errors. But it also is
joyous, for it expresses one's inner purity and liberates one from the
heavy burden of sin. (Orot Ha'teshuvah Im Be'ur p. 367)
R' Avraham Zvi Margolis shlita (rabbi of Karmiel, Israel) writes in
the name of R' Yerachmiel Yisrael Yitzchak Danziger z"l (1853-1910; the
Alexanderer Rebbe; known as the "Yismach Yisrael):
Man's recognition of his sin must include recognition of the pain
that he caused G-d, so-to-speak [because G-d's purpose in creating the
world is frustrated by our sins]. Even if one's repentance is not
motivated by fear of punishment, but rather by a recognition that one has
damaged his own soul as a result of his sins, that teshuvah is incomplete
if it does not take into account the pain that was caused to the
Unfortunately, man in his present state is generally unable to
appreciate the harm that his sin has caused. Therefore, part of a
penitent's prayer should be that G-d enlighten and remove the curtains and
veils that separate him from G-d. Only when one appreciates what his
relationship with G-d could be can he appreciate what he loses when he
sins. (Dvar Ha'teshuvah p.168)
A Prescription for Spiritual and Physical Health
The following "prescription" ("merkachat") is recommended by the
prolific Torah and Talmud commentator and ethicist, R' Eliyahu Hakohen z"l
(Izmir, Turkey; died 1729), in his work Shevet Mussar, chapter 6.
a. Take six roots, i.e., make sure your behavior is rooted in (1)
fear of Heaven, (2) self-effacement, (3) humility, (4) shyness, (5)
compassion, and (6) acts of kindness.
b. Add branches from the tree of Divine wisdom.
c. Add many grasses, i.e., performance of the positive and negative
d. Use stalks to make fences (to distance yourself from sin).
e. Sprinkle in flowers of charity and kind words to the poor. [Ed.
note: Our Sages teach that the words one says to console the poor are as
important as, or more important than, the money one gives.]
f. Add in the fruits of truth.
g. Crush all the ingredients with the mortar and pestle of regret and
h. Boil in the waters of immersion in a mikvah.
i. Stir in tears.
j. Spice with extra precautions in the performance of mitzvot.
k. Fry in the oil of a good name [paraphrasing Kohelet 7:1, "A good
name is better than fine oil."]
l. Pour the entire mixture on beds of teshuvah.
Attaining Forgiveness for Sins Against Our Fellows
Our Sages teach 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 forgiveness. (Kaf Hachaim 606:3)
Why? Because atoning only for some sins is like immersing only part
of one's body in a mikveh. Obviously, one does not attain purity by doing
so. (Mussar Hamishnah)
R' Avraham Halevi Horowitz z"l (16th century; father of the Shelah
The obligation to ask forgiveness from those we have offended does
not mean doing what is commonly done, i.e., that shortly before Kol
Nidrei, one approaches his friends and asks their forgiveness.
Inevitably, the friend responds, "You did not do anything for which I have
to forgive you." Then, these two friends forgive each other, something
that was not necessary at all, since they were always dear to each other
and would never wish each other harm.
In contrast, R' Horowitz continues, enemies tend not to ask
forgiveness from each other. Rather, each one says, "If he were
interested in peace, he would come to me." A wise man, however, would
recognize that the true sign of strength is humility, and he would take
the initiative to appease his enemy, even if his enemy is in the wrong.
R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach z"l (1910-1995; one of the most important
halachic authorities of the 20th century) writes: Requesting general
forgiveness for all sins that one has committed against another is
effective only for minor offenses. [If committed a more serious offense,
he must specify it when he requests forgiveness.] (Quoted in Halichot
Shlomo: Moadim p.44)
If one who has sinned against you does not come to you to seek
forgiveness, you should make yourself available to him so that he might
ask forgiveness. (Mateh Ephraim)
Because Yom Kippur does not atone until one appeases his neighbor,
one should be certain to recite the following prayer (part of Tefilah
Zakkah) which is printed in many 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 in accordance with
halachah, 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 forgiveness."
From the Prayers . . .
"You are kadosh / holy and Your Name inspires fear, and there is
no god other than You, as it is written: `Hashem, Master of
Legions, will be lofty in judgment, and the Holy G-d will be
sanctified in tzedakah'. . . ." (From the conclusion to the
third berachah of the Amidah)
R' Shlomo Kluger z"l (1784-1869; rabbi of Brody, Galicia) asks: What
is the connection between the cited verse ("Hashem, Master of Legions,
will be lofty in judgment, and the Holy G-d will be sanctified in
tzedakah") and the phrase that precedes it ("there is no god other than
He explains: When we say that G-d is kadosh / holy, we mean that He
is set apart and beyond our comprehension. To the extent that we can
grasp G-d at all, it is only through His actions. The various Names of G-
d describe His different actions. For example, when we say in this
paragraph, "Your Name inspires fear," we mean that G-d sometimes manifests
Himself as inspiring fear. However, that is not G-d's true nature. We
read of the time of the Giving of the Torah (Shmot 24:17), "The appearance
of the glory of Hashem was like a consuming fire." A "consuming fire" was
only His appearance; His true nature is to be kind and charitable.
With this introduction, we can understand the words of the prayers as
follows: You G-d are kadosh. We know You only through Your Name - the way
You appear - to us, which at times (especially on the High Holidays),
"inspires fear." Nevertheless, we know that Your true nature - Your true
kedushah - is tzedakah. How do we know this? Perhaps You act charitably
to us only so that we will not abandon You in favor of another god? We
know that is not so, for we know that there is no god other than You.
Thus, You truly will be sanctified through Your tzedakah. (Kohelet
Yaakov: Rosh Hashanah p. 4)
The editors hope these brief 'snippets' will engender further study
and discussion of Torah topics ('lehagdil Torah u'leha'adirah'), and
your letters are appreciated. Web archives at Torah.org start with 5758 (1997) and
may be retrieved from the Hamaayan page.
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