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Parshas Netzavim-Vayeilech 5773
Candle Lighting Time: 7:17 pm
August 30, 2013
Volume 9 Issue 35
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Dvar Torah

A Broken Heart Inspires Change

 

By Rabbi Shmuel Grunberger

           

         

In last week's Parsha, Moshe told k'lal Yisrael the 98 curses that would befall them if they did not follow the Torah. This week's Parsha begins with the words, "Atem nitzavim hayom kulchem." Rashi asks, what is the reason for the juxtaposition of "Atem nitzavim hayom" with the curses in the previous parsha? He quotes a Medrash which explains that after k'lal Yisrael heard the curses, their faces turned pallid and they exclaimed, "Who can bear these [curses]?" Moshe Rabeinu, wishing to console them, responds - "Atem nitzavim hayom" - "You are all standing here today!" In other words, even though you angered Hashem, He nevertheless allowed you to live and didn't destroy you.

 

This Medrash needs explanation. First, Moshe's consolation seems to contradict the Gemara that states, "Anyone who says Hashem is disregarding of sin, his life shall be disregarded." (Bava Kama 50a). Moshe's response implies that Hashem overlooked their sins and didn't follow through with the curses. Second, if they did cause Hashem to become so angry with them, and the Gemara says that Hashem does not ignore sins, why in fact did Hashem not destroy them as per the curses?

 

Rav Elya Lopian, zt"l answers, that Hashem never punishes out of revenge, chas v'shalom. Rather, He gives punishment for the benefit of the sinner. The word "yesurim" (pain and suffering) comes from "mussar" - rebuke. Pain causes one to recognize and acknowledge that they are being rebuked, and calls for them to change and do teshuvah. This is alluded to in the pasuk in Tehillim, "The sacrifices Hashem desires are a spirit that is broken; a heart broken and humbled. O Hashem you will not despise." (Tehillim 51-13).

 

The Vilna Gaon compares this to a field that one wishes to fertilize. In order for the seeds to be planted successfully, the field must first be plowed and softened. The heart of a person is the same. To plant seeds of growth and teshuvah, the heart must first be softened and broken into.

 

Now, we can understand Moshe's response. K'lal Yisrael was frightened, pained and heart-broken from the curses. They were afraid of not being able to withstand them due to the many sins they committed. Moshe realized this and therefore told them, "Don't worry; that was the purpose of the curses. If you were heart-broken and scared, which led you to teshuva, then Hashem fulfilled His intentions of announcing the curses. It's as if the curses were implemented and you were 'destroyed.' My proof is that "You are all standing here today" and were not physically eliminated."

As we approach the Yomim Noraim, let us remember the curses that are given when we don't follow Hashem's Torah and mitzvos. Let the awe and fear of the Yom Hadin inspire us to do sincere teshuva, because that is the ultimate purpose of these days. Let the embarrassment of our sins, and fear of receiving punishment, inspire us to repent and return to our roots. Although the ideal teshuva should be out of our love for Hashem, Chazal tell us, "If you can't do teshuvam'ahavah then do teshuvam'yirah - out of our fear of Hashem." May Hashem hear our tefillos, accept our teshuvah, and inscribe us in the Book of Life with a K'siva V'Chasima Tova!

 

Dvar Halacha

 

 Halachos of Selichos

 

By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi

  

This Motzei Shabbos [or Sunday morning] b'nei ashkenaz begin reciting slichos.  There should be at least 4 dayspreceding Rosh Hashanah of saying slichos.  One reason is because we are compared to a korbon (sacrifice) that requires four days of checking for blemishes before being offered.  A second reason is that some people have the custom to fast every day of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva (Ten Days of Repentance).  Four of these ten days one is prohibited to fast [2 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, so there is a set day to start (Mishneh Berurah 581:6).

 

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

 

One is permitted to recite slichos without a minyan, however he must skip the Yud Gimmel Middos (Thirteen Attributes of Mercy) and the parts that are Aramaic (Mishneh Berurah 581:14).  An individual does not need to recite Ashrei beforehand (Koveitz Halachos 1:17).

 

One must recite birchas hatorah before reciting slichos each morning (Mishneh Berurah 46:27).  Even if one arrived late, and if by saying birchas hatorah he will inevitably miss 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 concentration than to say a lot withoutconcentration (Tur & Shulchan Aruch OC 2).  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 slichah than to recite parts of multiple slichos (Koveitz Halachos 2:ftnt. 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 slichah when the congregation reaches the Yud Gimmel Middos, he should skip to the Yud Gimmel Middos and say it together with them (Koveitz Halachos 2:20).

 

If one arrived late to shul, it is preferable to begin slichos at the slichah that the congregation is currently reciting and he does not need to begin by saying Ashrei (Koveitz Halachos 2:9).  He may start at the beginning if he prefers (Koveitz Halachos 2:ftnt. 10).

 

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).  Ksiva V'chasima Tova!

 


  

 

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