THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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YOMA 59-88 have been dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Simcha
Bekelnitzky (Simcha Gedalya ben Shraga Feibush) of Queens N.Y. by his wife
and daughters. Well known in the community for his Chesed and Tzedakah, he
will long be remembered.
1) "V'NAKEH" -- THE THIRTEENTH OF THE THIRTEEN ATTRIBUTES OF MERCY
AGADAH: Rebbi Elazar points out a contradiction in the verse in which the 13
attributes of Hashem's mercy are listed (Shemos 34:7). The verse describes
Hashem as "v'Nakeh" -- "Who cleanses [a person of his sins]," implying that
Hashem grants atonement. However, the very next words say, "Lo Yenakeh" --
"He does not cleanse," implying that He does not grant atonement! Rebbi
Elazar answers that it depends whether a person does Teshuvah. When a person
repents and does Teshuvah, Hashem cleanses him of his sins, but when a
person does not repent, Hashem does not cleanse him of his sins. The BNEI
YISASCHAR uses this Gemara to demonstrate a principle taught by RAV DOV BER
("the Magid") of MEZRITCH, a close disciple of the Ba'al Shem Tov (quoted in
Magid Devarav l'Yakov #147, Arvei Nachal Parshas Vayetzei, and elsewhere),
and which is discussed at length by RAV LEVI YITZCHAK of BERDITCHEV
(Kedushas Levi Parshas Ki Sisa).
Rav Dov Ber of Mezritch proposes that the 13 attributes of Hashem's mercy
("13 Midos Rachamim," as enumerated in Rosh ha'Shanah 17b) correspond to the
13 exegetical tools with which laws are derived from the Torah ("13 Midos
sheha'Torah Nidreshes ba'Hen," as set forth in the beginning of Toras
Kohanim, and as printed in all Sidurim before the Shacharis service).
Rav Dov Ber of Mezritch explains that the first of the Midos through which
laws are derived from the Torah is the Midah of "Kal v'Chomer." This
corresponds to the first Midah of the 13, which is the word "Kel" (G-d's
name). ("Kel" is the first of the 13 Midos, according to the Arizal. In
addition, the Mekubalim write that the 13 Midos of Rachamim are alluded to
in the verses of "Mi Kel Kamocha" (Michah 7:18-20), as discussed by the
TOMER DEVORAH. The first Midah mentioned in that verse is also "Kel.") This
correlation is alluded to in the Torah in the prayer of Moshe Rabeinu on
behalf of his sister, Miriam, when she was smitten with Tzara'as. In order
to arouse Hashem's mercy for her, Moshe prayed for her with the name, "Kel"
-- "Kel Na Refa Na Lah" (Bamidbar 12:13). Hashem replied with a Kal v'Chomer
("Im Aviha Yarok Yarak...," see Bereishis Rabah 92:7; Rashi, Bamidbar
12:14), to teach Moshe that in order to arouse the Midah of "Kel," one
should apply the Midah of Kal v'Chomer. Similarly, adds Rav Levi Yitzchak
(Kedushas Levi Parshas Ki Sisa), Chazal derive that the dead will be brought
back to life from a Kal v'Chomer (Sanhedrin 91a; "Those that never were come
to life, certainly those that already were will come to life!"; when Miryam
was afflicted with Tzara'as Aharon said to Moshe, "Do not let her be like a
dead person...," Bamidbar 12:12).
The second of the 13 Midos is "Gezeirah Shavah," which corresponds to
"Rachum" (according to the Arizal's method of counting the Midos). A person
arouses his mercy, Rachamim, for a pauper by putting himself in the others'
shoes, or equating himself to the poor person -- in short, a "Gezeirah
Shavah." (Kedushas Levi, ibid.)
The last of the 13 Midos of Rachamim is "v'Nakeh," the subject of our
Gemara. This Midah corresponds to the last of the 13 Midos sheha'Torah
Nidreshes ba'Hen, which is the principle of "Shenei Kesuvim ha'Mach'chishim
Zeh Es Zeh..." -- "when two verses contradict one another, a third verse
compromises between them, resolving the contradiction." The Bnei Yisaschar
(Chodesh Elul 2:8), citing his Mechutan, Rav Tzvi Hirsh of Ziditchov
explains that this can be seen in our Gemara. The Gemara shows that when the
Torah says "v'Nakeh" and then says "Lo Yenakeh," the two statements of the
Torah seemingly contradict each other. The Gemara resolves this
contradiction by relying on a third verse, which teaches the concept of
Teshuvah ("v'Shavta Ad Hashem Elokecha," Devarim 30:2). Thus, it is the
thirteenth Midah she'ha'Torah Nidreshes Bah which teaches us the meaning of
the thirteenth Midah of Rachamim! (See also Ma'amarei Rosh Chodesh 4:3, Elul
2:7, Magid Ta'alumah Berachos 34a, and many other places in the works of the
RAV DAVID COHEN, shlit'a, in MAS'AS KAPAI (on Tefilah) adds that perhaps
this is one reason why we recite the 13 Midos sheha'Torah Nidreshes ba'Hen
before Pesukei d'Zimra each morning -- in order to arouse Hashem's 13
attributes of mercy.
2) CONFESSING SINS FROM ONE'S PAST
OPINIONS: The Gemara cites an argument regarding whether or not it is
beneficial for a person to confess his old sins each year, even though he
confessed them in previous years. According to the Tana Kama, to confess
one's old sins is revolting, while according to Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov,
doing so is praiseworthy. According to the Tana Kama, why should confessing
one's old sins be considered revolting? And what is the proper way to
conduct oneself in practice?
RABEINU YONAH (end of Sha'arei Teshuvah) explains that there are three
different ways that one might confess for his sin's of previous years.
(a) If one only mentions the sins of previous years and does not mention any
sins of the most recent year, this is certainly improper and it is even
revolting. It is as if the person is saying that he considers himself to be
righteous and free of sin except for those sins which he committed in
previous years. Not only is his confession not the humbling element of Viduy
which it was meant to be, but it becomes a display of arrogance.
(b) Even if a person mentions new sins together with the old ones, it is
still not proper to mention the old sins, according to the Tana Kama,
because by doing so one shows that he does not have confidence that Hashem
pardons those who do Teshuvah.
(c) However, if a person makes reference to previous sins by mentioning
merely a general statement that he sinned to Hashem in years past, without
specifying the particular transgressions, this is a proper manner of
confessing, and this is what a person is supposed to do each year. One
advantage of confessing for past sins in this manner is that in case one has
not yet repented sufficiently for his sins of last year, by confessing them
again this year in a general manner he repents more for them. Second, it
might have been decreed upon him to suffer afflictions as a result of his
sins, and those afflictions have not yet come upon him; by confessing his
sins in a general way, he might be able to lessen the severity of the
afflictions. Third, perhaps he did not remember his transgressions at the
time he confessed during previous years. Now that he remembers them, he is
able to do Teshuvah for them.
If so, why need one not specify the sins? Rabeinu Yonah explains that
specifying one's sins is a part of the Mitzvah of Viduy; it is not a
prerequisite for atonement in its own right. Since last year he already
performed the Mitzvah of Viduy, he does not have to do it again; he just has
to repent by mentioning that he sinned and resolving not to sin again.