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Parshas Netzavim-Vayielech 5774
Candle Lighting Time: 6:45 pm
September 19, 2014
Volume 10 Issue 41
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Dvar Torah

  

 Forward Thinking  
 
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas

   

                 Learning about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur brings us conflicting messages. On one hand we learn of the awesomeness of the Day of Judgment, with the entire world passing in front of G-d. Even the angels tremble at the sound of the shofar that heralds the moment of judgment. On the other hand we are told to dress in our holiday finest and to celebrate the day with festive meals. With expressions of joy found both in Kiddush and the Rosh Hashana prayers, we welcome in this holiday!? Nothing exemplifies our confusion more than the famous passage in Nechemia (7:9-12): "Then Nechemia... and Ezra the priest... and the Leviim who caused the people to understand, said to all the people, 'This day is holy to the Lord your God; neither mourn nor weep,' for all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the Law. And he said to them, 'Go, eat fat foods and drink sweet drinks and send portions to whoever has nothing prepared, for the day is holy to our Lord, and do not be sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.' And the Leviim quieted all the people, saying, 'Hush, for the day is holy, and do not be sad.' Then all the people went to eat and to drink and to send portions and to rejoice greatly, for they understood the words that they informed them of."

 

In a lengthy essay on this topic, the Nesivos Shalom explains that there is a basic misconception as to the function of the High Holidays. The people assumed that Rosh Hashana was a Day of Judgment on the past, and they mourned and wept upon hearing a book of laws they had not fulfilled. Nechemia, Ezra, and the Leviim calmed them by explaining that what is important about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is not the past, but the future. The process of repentance is to regret the past and to accept a new future.

 

The Nesivos Shalom explains further that Rosh Hashana takes place on the day of the creation of the world. On that day G-d reassess if all of creation, both those with free choice and those without, are accomplishing the goals of creation. Acceptance of G-d as our King and declaration of our desire to get closer to Him, gives reason for our continued existence. The climax of this is Yom Kippur where we shed, as much as possible, our physicality in demonstration of our sincere desire to be "attached" to Him. The Maharal tells us, that this act alone cleanses us of our sins, for next to G-d there is no possibility of sin. This is the explanation of Rabbi Akiva's statement "Just as the Mikva purifies the impure, so too does Hakadosh Baruch Hu purify the Jewish People." This reality is a cause for joy. We are celebrating the possibility of our loyalty and unity with G-d. The "Ten Days of Repentance" when we recreate ourselves are commensurate with the "Ten Utterances" that brought the world into being.  Both are acts of creation.

 

Unfortunately what we have learned above remains an abstract concept for many. The idea of getting close to G-d seems too grandiose and obscure to be true. Our full understanding of our low physical state makes this unity seem distant. How can we correct this perception?

 

The answer is found in this week's Parsha. It begins with the words "Atem netzavim hayom," "You are standing today." "Today," the commentators explain, refers to Rosh Hashana, the first day of creation. The message for that day is "For the commandment which I give you today is neither hidden nor far off... For the matter is close to you. It is in your own mouth and your own heart to do it." Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler explains that Moshe was encouraging the Jewish People by telling them that no matter how much their inclination tries to lead them away from the truth, deep in their hearts they will know the real truth and that they have the ability to grasp it, internalize it and change themselves on the basis of that truth. We can possibly add that with our recreation on this awesome day, we are reminded of the original creation of man when he was implanted with "with a portion of G-d." "For the matter is very close to you," can also be referring to that divine spark contained with in each one of us, giving us the ability to overcome any perceived obstacle in our quest to actualize that real truth contained within. This is enabled with the study of Torah "that is neither in the sky... nor across the ocean." The possibility of growth, change, and closeness to G-d is a reality. May we truly celebrate the coronation of our King with true understanding of how we can get closer to Him.

 

 

           

                 

  

 
Dvar Halacha
 
Halachos of Appeasing Another Jew part 2
   

 

By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi

  

 

If one upset another person, even if it was only with words, he is required to make amends (Shulchan Aruch 606:1). This includes even if someone is unjustly upset at you (Koveitz Halachos [Piskei Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a] 25:16). If one is unsure whether he harmed someone else, he must ask for forgiveness (Aruch Hashulchan 606:4). Therefore it is vital that spouses and family members should ask for forgiveness from one another since it is extremely likely that over the course of the year they did something to warrant an apology (Koveitz Halachos 25:15).

 

If someone wronged another person, even if he is certain that he was forgiven, it is nevertheless proper to ask for forgiveness, since asking for forgiveness builds humility, which is part of the teshuva process (Koveitz Halachos 25:5).

 

If one asks a group of people for forgiveness, and he knows that he wronged an individual in that group, he has not fulfilled his obligation of asking forgiveness (Mishneh Berurah 606:3).

 

If someone truly feels bad for what he did, yet he is too embarrassed to ask for forgiveness, if he knows the person who he harmed says Tefillas Zakah one may b'dieved rely on this [and not actually ask him to forgive him] (Koveitz Halachos 25:5 & ftnt. 10 quoting Harav Yosef Shalom Eliyashuv, zt"l).

 

It is better to seek forgiveness in person. This includes asking for forgiveness via telephone. One may not write a letter because one does not feel so embarrassed (Koveitz Halachos 25:4). If one feels that the person he wronged will be more receptive to an intermediary he does not need to ask himself (Mishneh Berurah 606:2).

 

If one cannot reach the person he harmed before Yom Kippur, he should commit himself to seek forgiveness as soon as he is able to (The Power of Teshuva pg. 244 quoting Yapheh L'laiv 6:2). If the person who was wronged has died, one should ask forgiveness at the grave in the presence of ten people (Shulchan Aruch 609:2).

 

When appeasing another person, one needs to specify the aveira that he did, unless it would cause that person to become upset (Magen Avraham 606:1).

 

If one tried to appease his friend, yet the friend did not want to forgive him, one is obligated to ask for forgiveness three times. If one wronged his Rebbe, he must continue to appease him until he is granted forgiveness (Shulchan Aruch 606:1). Each new time, he should try to appease in a different way than was tried before (Magen Avraham 606:1). Additionally, the second and third time one comes to ask forgiveness from someone else, he should be accompanied by two other people (Rambam Hilchos Teshuva 2:9 & Shaarei Teshuva 4:19). One can even bring minors (Koveitz Halachos 25:3). If one feels that the person will forgive him without him bringing other people, he may go alone. This may be the reason why nowadays generally people do not bring other people (Koveitz Halachos 25:ftnt. 1).

 

There is a machlokes if one did ask for forgiveness, and the person said he forgives him, but in his heart he does not really mean it, has the person fulfilled his mitzvah of appeasing his friend (The Monthly Halachah Discussion [Rabbi D. Neustadt,shlit"a] pg. 323).

 

The Rama [606:1] writes, if one comes to request forgiveness from you, do not be cruel and forgive them. The Mishneh Berurah [ibid: 8] explains because in the Heavenly court you will be treated measure for measure.

 


 

 

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