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Parshas Ki Seitzei 5775
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August 28, 2015
Volume 11 Issue 34  
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Dvar Torah


   It's the Thought that Counts  
 
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas
 

"You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not abhor an Egyptian, for you were a sojourner in his land. Children who are born to them in the third generation may enter the congregation of Hashem." ( Parshas Ki Seitzei 23:8-9)
 
Rashi comments on the words "Children who are born to them in the third generation, etc" as follows: "But converts of other nations are permitted immediately. We can learn from this that one who causes another to sin is worse than one who actually kills another - for one who kills, kills him [only] in this world. But one who causes another to sin, removes him from this world and from the world to come. Therefore, Edom who went out [to attack the Jewish People] with a sword, has not become abhorred. And similarly the Egyptians who attempted to drown the [Jewish baby boys]. However, these (Ammon and Moav) who caused them to sin, have become abhorred."
 
Rashi's explanation strikes a raw nerve within each one of us. Although we can intellectually understand that spiritually sin is worse than death in just this world, it is a concept that is difficult for our hearts to grasp. Perhaps the following might make this idea clearer.
 
The Gemarah in Rosh HaShanah (16b) brings down that Rabbi Cruspedai said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan, "Three books are opened on Rosh HaShanah: One of totally evil people, one of completely righteous people, and one that includes people with both good and bad deeds [ Beinonim ]. The completely righteous individuals are written and sealed immediately for life. The totally wicked individuals are written and sealed immediately for death. The [sentence for the] individuals with both good and bad deeds is suspended from Rosh HaShanah until Yom Kippur. If they merit, they are inscribed for life, if they do not merit, they are inscribed for death."
 
Tosafos asks, "From the understanding that some individuals have the same number of good deeds and bad deeds [and their sentence is suspended from Rosh HaShanah until Yom Kippur] it is implied that the definition of a righteous person is one whose merits are greater [than his bad deeds] and a completely wicked person [is defined] as one whose transgressions outweigh [his good deeds]. Sometimes, however, [we see this is not the case] the righteous are sealed for death and the totally wicked for life?" Tosafos answers, that it must be that the definitions of life and death, found in the statement of Rabbi Cruspedai, are referring to life in the World to Come.
 
Rabbi Chaim Friedlander in Sifsei Chaim , questions Tosafos' understanding of the Gemara. We all know that the type of judgment that Tosafos is referring too, concerning the World to Come, is not on Rosh HaShanah. Rather it is determined only when a person comes to the Heavenly Court after his death!?
 
Rabbi Friedlander answers that the establishment of one's spiritual essence [for the coming year] is the judgment on Rosh HaShanah that relates to the World to Come. This is similar to the statement of the Sages found in many places, "Who is destined for the World to Come?" The connotation is that it is not after one's death that a person merits the World to Come. Rather, now [in his lifetime] he is already considered as one fated for the World to Come. In this way, a person's judgment is related to the World to Come - for on Rosh HaShanah a person's spiritual level is assessed. By conducting oneself as a " ben olam habah," a person of the World to Come in this world, he is "inscribing" himself into the all-time Book of Life! And that, in turn, determines the corresponding judgment in his personal sustenance [such as health, income, etc.] for the coming year.
 
From the above, we can change our perspective on how we lead our lives. The Sforno on the first words of Parshas Re'eh observes that the only options G-d placed before us are "blessing/life" and "curse/death," and nothing in between. This teaches us that we have to set our sights high. Life and death in physical terms is limiting. Encompassing the concept of the World to Come into our everyday thinking changes our perception of what is important in this world, and with it our direction of life. May we place ourselves in the right Book.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dvar Halacha
 
Laws of Elul    
 
  By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi
 
The minhag of B'nei sefard recite slichos 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 slichos two Sundays before Rosh Hashanah (Rama 581:1), in order that there should be at least 4 days of reciting slichos preceding Rosh Hashanah. One reason is, we are compared to a korbon (sacrifice) which requires four days of checking for blemishes before being offered. Another reason is, there is a 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 slichos to compensate for those days. We always start on Sunday, in order there is a "set" day to start (Mishneh Berurah 581:6).

One may not recite
slichos at night before chatzos halaiylah (midnight) [except for on Yom Kippur ] (Mishneh Berurah 565:12). The Shulchan Aruch [581:1] writes that the ideal time to recite slichos is during the last three [ halachic ] hours of the night, since then it is an eis ratzon (auspicious time) (Mishneh Berurah 581: introduction). Any time after chatzos is considered a preferable time (Igros Moshe OC 2:105). The custom of many congregations, is to recite slichos after it is already day (Aruch Hashulchan 581:4). It is important to note, it is preferable to daven slichos in the morning together with a minyan than at night without a minyan (Koveitz Halachos 2:3).

The common custom is that women do not recite
slichos (Koveitz Halachos 2:23), however, many do go to slichos on the first night [ Motzai Shabbos ] (Koveitz Halachos pg. 28). It is proper to educate katanim (minors) to recite slichos, though one is not required 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 slichos , except on Erev Rosh Hashanah (Rama 581:1). In a beis avel , it is permitted to recite slichos with viduy and tachanun (Koveitz Halachos 2:25).

If one is
davening without a minyan he may recite slichos , however he must skip the Yud Gimmel middos (13 Attributes of Mercy) and the parts that are Aramaic (Mishneh Berurah 581:14). Furthermore, an individual does not need to recite Ashrei before slichos (Koveitz Halachos 1:17).
 
The sha'laich tzibbur should don a tallis while reciting slichos (Mishneh Berurah 581:6). If there is no tallis available, he may lead slichos without a tallis (Mateh Ephraim 581:15, Koveitz Halachos 2:12). If one is davening slichos before alos hashachar (dawn), it is questionable whether one may recite a brachah on the tallis that early. Therefore, one should use someone else's tallis , in order that he does not require reciting a brachah . If that is not an option, one should use his own tallis without reciting a brachah , and after alos hashachar he should move it around and recite a brachah (Shaar Hatziyon 581:5).
 
One must recite birchas hatorah before reciting slichos (Mishneh Berurah 46:27). Even if one arrived late, and if by saying birchas hatorah he will inevitably missing even more of slichos, 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 slichos "properly" and skip other parts (Koveitz Halachos 2:8). In this circumstance, it is preferable to recite a whole slicha than to recite parts of multiple slichos (Koveitz Halachos 2:fn. 8). Even if one is skipping some of the slichos , 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 slichos 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 arrived late to shul , it is preferable to begin slichos at the slicha that the congregation is in the middle of reciting (Koveitz Halachos 2:9 & fn. 10). If he prefers to start at the beginning, he may (Koveitz Halachos 2:fn. 10).
 

 
 
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