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Parshas Ki Seitzei 5774
Candle Lighting Time: 7:08 pm
September 5, 2014
Volume 10 Issue 39
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Dvar Torah


 

 Elul: Seize The Moment  

By Rabbi Yerachmiel Lichtman


 

               

            We find ourselves in the month of Elul. The name Elul (in Hebrew) is spelled out in the first letters of the following three p'sukim. The first is, Ani L'dodi Vedodi Li ("I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine") (Shir Hashirim: 6:3). The second is Ish L'ra'ayhu Umatanos Laevyonim. ("Sending delicacies to one another and gifts to the poor")(Esther: 9:22). The last one is, Umal Hashem Elokecha Es Levovcha V'es Levav Zarecha. (And Hashem your G-d will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your children.)(Devarim: 30:6). At first glancethe three phrases seem to be unrelated.After further reflection, it becomes clear that they each refer to a different aspect of our avodas Hashem, specifically during the month of Elul and the Yomim Noraim. The first pasuk, Ani Ledodi Vedodi Li discusses closeness and a special relationship with our Father in Heaven. This is a reference to tefilla, prayer, since it is through prayer that our bond is strengthened. The second pasuk, Ish Lera'ayhu Umatanos Laevyonim symbolizes tzedaka; charity. The last pasuk, talks about the circumcision of the impurity of the heart. This refers to teshuva; repentance. Teshuva, Tefilla and Tzedaka are the 3 things that are said to have the power to tear up the evil decree, as we say in the Mussaf prayers of the Days of Awe, "U'teshuva U'tefila U'tzedaka Ma'avirin Es Roah Hagezairah". In order to merit the results of our teshuva, tefila and tzedaka, we must begin to work on ourselves in the month of Elul.

 

There is a passage from the Chazaras Hashatz of the Rosh Hashana daveningthat can be explained homiletically in a similar vein. "Hayom Haras Olam" "Today is the birthday of the world". The Netziv wonders, if the birth of this world took place on Rosh Hashana, then when was the pregnancy? He answers that the pregnancy is the month of Elul. Just as a woman feels fetal movement increase as she gets closer to her due date and the birth of the baby, so too one must feel an increase of spiritual movement as he or she gets closer to the day of judgment. We must wake up now, while there is still time to utilize the days of Elul to merit a favorable judgment.

 

Rav Yitzchak Hutnerzt"l explains that Teshuva does not merely mean to become a better person, rather, it means becoming a different person. This idea is found in the Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva Perek 2 Halacha 4) "And from the ways of Teshuva for the repenter is to cry out to Hashem in tears and in prayer, to give charity according to his ability, and to distance himself from sins of the past and to change his name as if to say I am a different man and I am not the same person who has done those [evil] deeds in the past". Rabbi Efraim Wachsman tells a mashal about a fellow who rented a cottage. The accommodations were far from luxurious. The rooms were dirty, the food was hardly desirable, not to mention the insects crawling around. The guest found out about another inn down the road which was a lot nicer and a lot cheaper. He complained to the landlord, and was promised that things would improve. The next morning the food was a lot better, but there were no other improvements with the cottage's interior. Rabbi Wachsman explains that during the month of Elul we add "some extras" to our day, such as the shofar, saying selichos etc. but if our changes are only external that is not enough. We have to make internal changes, making us new and different people. May Hashem see all our efforts and my we merit a favorable judgment and Ksiva Vachasima Tova!


 

 
  


 

 

 
 
Dvar Halacha
 
Halachos of Chodesh Elul part 2  

 

By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi

  

 

 The minhag of B'nei sefard is to recite selichos the entire month of Elul (Shulchan Aruch 581:1).  B'nei ashkenaz begin the Sunday before Rosh Hashanah.  However, in years that Rosh Hashanah falls out on either a Monday or Tuesday, they begin reciting the selichos two Sundays before Rosh Hashanah (Rema 581:1), in order that there should be at least 4 days of reciting selichos preceding Rosh Hashanah.  One reason is because we are like a korbon (sacrifice) which requires four days of checking for blemishes before being brought.  Another reason is that many people have the custom to fast every day of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva (Ten Days of Repentance).  On four of these ten days it is prohibited to fast [two days Rosh Hashanah, Shabbos Shuva and Erev Yom Kippur].  Therefore we have at least 4 days of selichos to compensate for those days.  We always start on Sunday in order there is a set day to start (Mishneh Berurah 581:6).  This year, Rosh Hashana begins on Thursday [September 25th], so we will begin reciting selichos Sunday, September 21st.

 

              The common custom is that women do not recite selichos (Koveitz Halachos 2:23), however, many do go to selichos on the first night [Motzai Shabbos] (Koveitz Halachos pg. 28 quoting Rabbi Y. Forchheimer, shlit"a).  It is proper to educate k'tanim (minors) to recite selichos.  One does not need to wake them up in the middle of the night to recite them (Koveitz Halachos 2:22).  An avel (mourner) [who is sitting shivah] may not go to shul to recite selichos, except on Erev Rosh Hashanah (Rema 581:1).  In a beis avel, it is permissible to recite selichos with viduy and tachanun (Koveitz Halachos 2:25).

 

               If one is davening without a minyan he may recite selichos, however he must skip the Yud Gimmel middos (13 Attributes of Mercy) and the parts that are Aremaic (Mishneh Berurah 581:14).  An individual does not need to recite Ashrei before selichos (Koveitz Halachos 1:17). It is important to note that it is preferable to daven selichos in the morning together with a minyan rather than at night without a minyan (Koveitz Halachos 2:3).

 

One must recite birchas hatorah before reciting selichos (Mishneh Berurah 46:27).  Even if one arrived late, and if by saying birchas hatorah he will inevitably miss even more of selichos, he must recite birchas hatorah first(Koveitz Halachos 2:7).

 

As a general rule, it is preferable to say a little with kavanah (concentration) than to say a lot without kavanah (Shulchan Aruch 1:4).  Therefore, someone who finds it difficult to keep up with the pace of the congregation may say less selichos "properly" and skip part of the selichos (Koveitz Halachos 2:8).  In this circumstance, it is preferable to recite a whole selicha than to recite parts of multiple selicha (Koveitz Halachos 2:fn. 8).  Even if one is skipping some of the selichos, one must recite the Yud Gimmel middos together with the congregation (Koveitz Halachos 2:8).  If one is in the middle of reciting a slicha when the congregation reaches the Yud Gimmel middos, he should skip to the Yud Gimmel middos and say it together with the congregation (Koveitz Halachos 2:20).  If one is reciting selichos and the congregation is reciting tachanun, he should skip to tachanun and does not have to make up what he skipped (Koveitz Halachos 2:34).

 

If one who arrives late to shul, it is preferable to begin selichos at the selicha that the congregation is in the middle of reciting (Koveitz Halachos 2:9 & fn. 10 quoting Orchos Rabbeinu 2:RH:11). If he prefers to start at the beginning, he may (Koveitz Halachos 2:fn. 10).

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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