Parshas Vayelech 5777
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October 7, 2016
Volume 12 Issue 37
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Dvar Torah

Teshuva From Heaven 
  By Rabbi Yosef Prupas

In Parshas Ki Savo it is written, "and Moshe summoned all of Israel and said them, "You have seen everything Hashem did before your eyes in the land of Egypt...those great signs and wonders...But Hashem did not give you a heart to know, or eye to hear, until today... etc.

The commentaries explain that these words were said by Moshe on the day of his death to the Jewish People. The Meshech Chochma explains that Moshe was making two points clear to them on that day. One, that he was not immortal. And two, that Klal Yisroel had not yet achieved the predestined goals assigned to them by Hashem. The first point was needed because there were many who were not yet convinced that Moshe was not some sort of demy-god with super natural powers of his own. With advent of Moshe's death it would become clear that he was not.

The second point was that Moshe wanted ready the Jewish People for a drastic change in lifestyle that was about to come. It would be a catalyst for their growth in service of Hashem. No longer would Manna fall from heaven, nor would the Clouds of Glory surround them with their protective and cleansing abilities. All this would come to an end with the passing of the torch of leadership to Yehoshua. They would now have face of a life of reality and true free choice. This was near impossible under the miraculous circumstances that they were in till now. Moshe now tried to prepare them for a world where they could truly work on themselves and attained the goals destined for them by Hashem in this world.

The Meshech Chochma goes onto quote the Medrash which tells us that moment Moshe understood what Hashem was alluding too when He responded to Moshe's beseeching to enter the Holy Land with the following: "I wanted to destroy Klal Yisroel on account of the sin with the golden calf, and you asked "Selach Na", please forgive. I then nullified My Will for yours. Now, once again, you want for Me to do the same. You cannot have both, either you recieve forgiveness for Klal Yisroel and you can't enter the land, or you can go over but nobody comes with."
The Meshech Chochma explains the reason for this ultimatum was that Hashem knew that Klal Yisroel would face two formidable adversaries amongst Canaanite nations; the Giants and Amalek. Even though they would ultimately miraculously vanquish them, the initial effort had to come on their own. Moshe prepared them for the giants by killing the giant Og. This showed Klal Yisroel that the giants were not indestructible and with the help of Hashem they would be able to conquer them.

However Amalek was a different story. The Medrash tells us that Klal Yisroel was attacked by Amalek the first time they complained was because "let the Kufui Tov, those who don't give recognition for the good done for them (Amalek) exact punishment from those who as well don't give recognition for the good for them (Klal Yisroel)." The only one would be able override this equation would be a descendant of Yosef who was the opposite of a Kufui Tov, for Yosef had repaid the bad done to him by his brothers with good. It would be in his merit that Klal Yisroel would be able to overcome Amalek. Moshe was not a descendant of Yosef and Yehoshua was. Hashem knew and Moshe now understood that if he, Moshe, were to lead them against Amalek, Klal Yisroel would be very nervous. This would affect the trust in Hashem needed to kick start their battle with Amalek, and to end with a supernatural win. This was what Hashem was trying to convey to Moshe.

The Meshech Chochma points out that it is not only in physical battle that a sincere initial attempt can bring salvation, but even in regard our battle with the Yetzer Harah and the process of Teshuvah. One can be overwhelmed by the magnitude of his sins in the days preceding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and the repentance required of them, especially the sins between one and his fellow man which Yom Kippur will not absolve without forgiveness. But we learn from the above not to give up hope even for sins to our fellow Jew. Even iniquities of this sort if one makes the initial sincere effort, Hashem will put it into our friends mind to forgive us! May we successful with our effort to repent and may this lead us to enter Eretz Yisroel with all of Klal Yisroel speedily in our day.

Dvar Halacha
Laws of Teshuva
By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi

If one upset another person, even if it was only with words, they are 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, one 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 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 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 (The Power of Teshuva pg. 244 quoting Yapheh L'laiv 6:2). If the person you have 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, you should not be cruel and not forgive them. The Mishneh Berurah [ibid: 8] explains because in the Heavenly court you will be treated measure for measure, and you will not be forgiven for your sins.

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