Parshas Ki Seitzei 5776
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September 16, 2016
Volume 12 Issue 34
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Dvar Torah

Building a Spiritual Home 
  By Rabbi Dov Greer

Parshas Ki Seitzei- A portion of the Torah replete with a variety of Mitzvos. From the beginning to the conclusion of this week's parsha, we are commanded many new mitzvos pertaining to inheritance, capital punishment, and finally to the importance of erasing the memory of our arch oppressor, Amalek. 
Although the Torah rarely mentions a specific reward associated with a particular mitzvah, in the middle of Parshas Ki Seitzei, Hash-m ascribes the gift of long life to he who is scrupulous about "shiluach hakan," sending away the mother bird hovering over its nest, prior to removing the progeny. The Medrash Tanchuma addresses this anomaly, further connecting the relevance of this mitzvah, shiluach hakan, to the subsequent mitzvos: the commandment to erect a fence upon the roof of one's home, and assuring that wheat is not planted in close proximity to a vineyard. The Torah wishes to impart the tremendous reward due to those who adhere to the mitzvos with care and dedication. The mitzvah of "shiluach hakan" takes but a moment and entails no extreme cost or effort, yet its merit can bring long life. Additionally, explains the medrash, preforming this mitzvah will trigger, as reward, the 'need' to keep the next two commandments, as the ability to build a home and plant fields will be the inevitable reward to even keeping this almost effortless mitzva of shiluach hakan. We should extrapolate from this series of rewards for such an easy mitzva the realization that there is tremendous compensation for the more complicated and time consuming mitzvos.
Although apparently unrelated, the mitzvah of shiluch hakan and building a fence on the roof of a new house can, and do in fact, contain a fascinating similarity. Shiluach hakan actually also relates to the construction of a home, albeit designed by a member of the animal species, while insuring the safety of one's roof addresses the way a human home should be built.
One has reached success financially and sets out to construct the "dream" house. Much time is spent looking for the perfect piece of land, the right neighborhood, and finding the best architect and general contractor. Years of dreams will finally be brought to fruition and many nights are spent imagining the gorgeous house that will be yours. Yet...The Torah forces you to think about an era when the house will no longer be yours, when you cannot control who is walking on your roof. A "maakeh," a fence must be formed to ensure the permanent safety of all aspects of the house.
A bird spends many hours and much toil collecting twigs and branches to from a house for its young. It carefully finds the right tree as best suited for its avian abode: namely, the "kan," or nest. With much planning and patience the bird slowly builds this "kan." Yet, the bird is merely an animal and cannot plan for unexpected guests in building its shelter. This mitzvah, the only one pertaining to an animal's house in the Torah, teaches us that a bird cannot have that foresight in building its nest; the bird builds purely by instinct.
A human, on the other hand, is supposed to rise above that instinct to merely create a shelter for himself. The mitzvah immediately following the "shiluch hakan," how one acts when encountering a nest, is the mitzvah of "maakeh", placing a fence around the roof of a "bayis chodosh," a new home, in order to ensure the safety of those guests, visitors, or future owners of the home, who may not be familiar with the terrain. We must always think of the other even when building the signature of our success and independence, a beautiful home. We should be cognizant that our sojourn in this world is temporary and need to ensure the safety of anyone who will subsequently live in our "dream" house.
Thinking about the "other" at all times, even when enjoying success, separates us from the animal species, and is our special charge as members of the "am kadosh", Hash-m's holy nation. The proximity of these two mitzvos should encourage these thoughts and thereby allow us to reap the full benefits of keeping the mitzvos.

(Adapted from the commentary of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch on the Torah)

Dvar Halacha
Laws Pertaining the Month of Elul
By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi
The minhag of B'nei sefard is to 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 [like this year], they begin reciting the slichos two Sundays before Rosh Hashanah (Rama 581:1), in order that there should be at least four 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 many people have the custom to fast each day of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva (Ten Days of Repentance).  On four of the ten days it is prohibited to fast [two days Rosh Hashanah, Shabbos Shuva and Erev Yom Kippur].  Therefore, we have at least four 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 ha'laylah (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 quoting Rabbi Y. Forchheimer, shlit"a).  Although, it is proper to educate katanim (minors) to recite slichos, 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 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).  An individual does not need to recite Ashrei before slichos (Koveitz Halachos 1:17).
The shalaich 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).  It is important to note that if one is davening slichos before 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 part of the slichos (Koveitz Halachos 2:8).  In this circumstance, it is preferable to recite a whole slicha than to recite parts of multiple slicha (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 arrives 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 quoting Orchos Rabbeinu 2:RH:11), but if he prefers to start at the beginning, he may (Koveitz Halachos 2:fn. 10).

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