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Dear Brothers,

In the Rosh Hashanah edition, in the "Wellsprings of the Parashah" column, the sacred words of the Saba of Kelm zs"l were cited. He asked why we refrain from blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah when it falls on Shabbat, such as it did this year. The shofar has the potential to add millions of misvot on the scale towards our credit. One blower sounds the shofar - and everyone who listens fulfills a Torah command, a misvah. Hazal forewent on all this out of the far-fetched concern that someone somewhere may violate the Shabbat - inadvertently!

As a result of the shofar blowing, the Satan is befuddled, he is silenced, his accusations muted. The King stands from His throne of justice and ascends His throne of compassion. Yet Hazal forewent on all this on the Day of Judgment, in order that not a single Jew would, Heaven forbid, run even a risk of desecrating the Shabbat - inadvertently!

For only our holy Sages, through their ru'ah hakodesh, knew the destruction wrought in the heavens by Shabbat desecration - even if it is violated inadvertently! They knew how many worlds its violation darkens, the "pipelines" of blessing that it blocks, the prosecution it arouses. They knew that it is indeed worthwhile to give up millions of certain misvot to avoid the remote possibility of accidental Shabbat desecration.

These are the words of the Saba of Kelm - words of penetrating truth!

Now begin the comments of someone who does even deserve to be called his student.

It seems to me that when Rosh Hashanah comes and the shofar is not sounded, when the "Yom Teru'ah" - "Day of Blowing" - arrives and we do not blow, the question certainly arises: Hashem bestowed a great kindness upon us by instructing us to blow the shofar, by informing us how we can find favor in His eyes and earn His compassion. So why don't we blow? Why don't we take advantage of this most remarkable divine gift?

The answer is that our Sages deliberated and decided that if danger is posed to a Jew, even a single Jew throughout the generations, that he could perhaps forget that the day is Shabbat and will bring the shofar outside his house and thus inadvertently desecrate Shabbat - then it is proper for all Am Yisrael to avoid blowing and forego on the blessed results of the blowing - in order that it will not bring a single Jew to a violation, which would render him deserving of punishment. To such an extent are Benei Yisrael all responsible for one another! To such an extent must we concern ourselves with the needs of others - how much are we prepared to give up to prevent the suffering of another Jew!

When this is the reason, then we cannot even imagine how our Father rejoices in His children, how much excitement is triggered by our foregoing on the shofar, how much love is bestowed upon us. Is it possible for us to lose by making this sacrifice? God forbid!

Certainly the King descended from His throne of justice and ascended the throne of compassion, and inscribed us for a good and sweet year.

Gemara Hatimah Tovah, Shabbat Shalom

Aryeh Deri


We now find ourselves in the middle of the Days of Judgment, hoping for a gemar hatimah tovah and a year graced with G-d's blessings. To this end, our Sages teach us, we must understand what sits on the scale, we must prepare ourselves accordingly by opening our hearts as required. How do we do this? A pasuk in our parashah provides the answer: "Remember the days of the world" - how earlier generations angered Hashem - "understand the years of [earlier] generations" - referring to the generation of Enosh, which was flooded by the ocean, and the generation of the deluge, which was destroyed by the floodwaters (Rashi).

With us, it would seem that a different language is needed, a physical demonstration of sorts is required. Two weeks ago, we were shown how dams suddenly collapse, how floodwaters can surge, cities are flooded, water levels rise to the tops of the street signs - and then they can just as easily retreat. To whom did these floodwaters speak, to whom do they signal, if not to those who know what happened to the generations of Enosh and the flood? We see that Hashem's attribute of justice is in force. The Twin Towers collapsed, glaciers dissolve, storms wreak havoc, volcanoes erupt. How many more signals do we need?

Let us take this to heart and come before Hashem with humble submission. Let us accept the yoke of divine kingship and thereby have the decrees against us annulled. Let us improve our conduct and grow. Let us return to Hashem so that He may have compassion on us, that He may seal our judgment for good life and peace, for livelihood and sustenance, nahat and joy, that all the wishes of our hearts come true, that we see the glory of Torah raised and the arrival of the final redemption speedily and in our days.


The Rambam's "Yad Hahazakah" is a work of halachah. In this work the Rambam rules: "Every person must see himself the entire year as half meritorious and half guilty; he must similarly think of the entire world as half meritorious and half guilty. If he commits one sin, he has thus tipped the scales against himself and the entire world and causes himself destruction. If he performs one misvah, he has thus tipped the scales in his and the entire world's favor, causing himself and them salvation and success, as it says, '… and a sadik is the foundation of the world.' This refers to one who exonerated and tilted the scales on behalf of the entire world and saved them. Because of this concept, the entire House of Israel is accustomed to increasing charity and good deeds and involvement in misvot between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, more so than throughout the year" (Hilchot Teshuvah 3:4).

At first glance, the Rambam's comments require an explanation. If, indeed, "every person must see himself the entire year as half meritorious and half guilty," why has the custom developed to increase charity and good deeds and misvot specifically during this period, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?

The answer is provided in the sacred work, "Resheet Hochmah" (Sha'ar Hakedushah, 12). There we are warned in the strictest of terms not to sin by acting frivolously or speaking lashon hara and gossip on the Day of Judgment. Why? "For they said: A person should always see himself and the entire world half meritorious and half guilty. If he earns the merit, he tips the scales in his and the entire world's favor. If not, G-d forbid, then he has tipped the scales towards a guilty verdict. It thus turns out that a sin of frivolity and lightheadedness is more stringent during this period than throughout the year. Since the world faces judgment during this period, a single transgression can yield a guilty verdict for the entire world. And then, all the poor people that will die or experience distress as a result of poverty, hunger and thirst - are attributed to him!"

Meaning, throughout the year, a person must say to himself, "When the Days of Judgment come around, the scales may be precisely equal. They will tilt just slightly to a favorable sentence if I fulfill that misvah, and, conversely, if I commit an averah I may thereby take part in weighing down the scales towards a guilty verdict." This is certainly true. But just as the sin will take part, so will all the other sinners participate in the guilty verdict - and thus the anger will be distributed among all of them - we should never know!

But during the Days of Judgment themselves, if indeed the scales hang in perfect balance, and my transgression, Heaven forbid, tilts them towards a guilty verdict, then all the attention is focused on me, all the anger is directed towards me, Heaven forbid! Such an individual effectively caused the guilty verdict issued against the world - for war, G-d forbid, for hunger, G-d forbid, illness, suffering - all because of that one individual. Who can bear on his conscience the destruction of the whole world?

And conversely, if the scales are perfectly balanced, and even if the sins weigh down the scale a bit, Heaven forbid, and Jews exert themselves to pile misvot onto the right-hand scale - another hour of Torah learning (in an hour, the Hafess Hayyim revealed to us, one can amass a number of merits equivalent to seven million, three hundred and fifty-six thousand misvot; and an hour of study on Shabbat equals seven billion, three hundred and fifty-six million merits!), an hour of tefilah, listening to Torah reading (one who listens is considered as having read - and each word equals six hundred and thirteen thousand merits!)… Fortunate are you, Israel, every kind word is an act of kindness - "hessed," every time we avoid anger is an act of "gevurah," and every misvah represents "tiferet." And if in your merit, in his merit, in our merit, the scales are tipped towards a favorable sentence, then all the good fortune that will be bestowed on the world will be attributed to us, all the blessing, joy, prosperity and good fortune, peace and security.

And how much will our compassionate Father, who wishes only the best for us, who longs for the good fortune of His children, who lovingly waits for us to come and return, to add misvot, and who enables us to improve ourselves, rejoice in us! How much will He love you, and him, and us, whoever increases his Torah study, be it in a Torah class or independently, who reviews Pirkei Abot - found in every siddur - or recites keri'at shema - which consists of 245 words, grabbing any misvah we can add. This will bring upon us love and bring a favorable judgment and a gemar hatimah tovah upon the entire world.


"For Hashem's portion is His people, Yaakov his own allotment"

The Midrash (Tanhuma, Balak 12) derives from here that one must ensure not to infringe upon the honor of Yisrael and to avoid raising any prosecution against them. The Midrash compares this to a king who chose for himself a certain portion of land, and then someone came forward and disparaged it. Will not the king have him put to death? We are the Al-mighty's portion - "For Hashem's portion is His people, Yaakov his own allotment." G-d similarly promised, "You will be for Me a treasured people."

This is also compared to a king who took a crown and placed it on his head, and then a person arose and said that it is worth nothing. Will he not be put to death? And about us, Benei Yisrael, it is written, "Yisrael, in whom I will be glorified."

"For Hashem's portion is His people, Yaakov his own allotment"

In a different Midrash (Shoher Tov, 28), Hazal write that Benei Yisrael declare, "We have no portion other than the Al-mighty," as it says, "My portion is Hashem, my soul declared" (Eichah 3:24). The Al-mighty responds, "I have no portion other than Yisrael," as it says, "For Hashem's portion is His people." Therefore, when they pray He answers them immediately, as it says, "To You, Hashem, I call, my Rock, you are not silent to me" (Tehillim 25:1).

"For Hashem's portion is His people, Yaakov his own allotment"

The Midrash in Beresheet Rabbah (65:15) interpreted the pasuk as an allusion, associating the word "helek" (portion) with the term, "hahlakah," smoothness, as Yaakov Avinu described himself as an "ish halak" - smooth-skinned, as opposed to Esav, who was full of hair. The Midrash poses an analogy to two people who enter a granary; one had thick, curly hair, while the other's hair was smooth. The wind blew and hurled on them dirt and straw. The one with smooth hair can simply run his hands through his hair and everything falls out. The other, however, will have the dirt stuck in his hair, such that much effort is required to clean it. "Similarly, the wicked Esav becomes dirtied with sins throughout the year and has nothing with which to earn atonement; but Yaakov becomes dirtied with sins throughout the year and when Yom Kippur comes, he has with what to earn atonement, as it says, 'For on this day He will atone for you, to purify you from all your sins, before Hashem you shall be purified'."

"For Hashem's portion is His people, Yaakov his own allotment"

The Ramban zs"l (Beresheet 28:12) explains that when Yaakov Avinu saw in his vision a ladder standing on the ground with its top reaching the heavens, he actually beheld all the levels of creation. The angels he saw ascending and descending the ladder represent the fact that an angel is appointed over every area of creation. The angel is sent from the heavens, performs his assigned task, and then returns to give his report. Only one sector of creation is not entrusted to angels: "And behold, Hashem stands over him." Over Yaakov Avinu, over Am Yisrael, the Al-mighty Himself looks after personally, as it says, “For God has chosen Yaakov for Himself, Yisrael as His treasured people"; "For Hashem's portion is His people, Yaakov his own allotment."

"For Hashem's portion is His people, Yaakov his own allotment"

Rabbenu Bahya zs"l (Shemot 25:18) found this concept in the two keruvim (cherubs) situated over the ark of the covenant. One symbolizes divine providence, whereas the other represents Am Yisrael. The two keruvim face each other, teaching us that Am Yisrael is not under the authority of any angel or other heavenly being as are the other nations, but rather, "Hashem's portion is His people, Yaakov his own allotment" - without any barrier in between them whatsoever.

"For Hashem's portion is His people, Yaakov his own allotment"

The Or Hahayyim Hakadosh zs"l (Shemot 20:2) writes that Hashem revealed this principle to His nation right at the outset of His descent at Matan Torah, when He said to them, "I am Hashem your G-d." Meaning, your souls originate in the heavens, they constitute a part of Hashem up above, "For Hashem's portion is His people" - and we belong to Him, at our very root! Indeed, Moshe Rabbenu attained Hashem's pardon for the people when he said, "And see that this nation is Your people." So may we earn Hashem's forgiveness and a gemar hatimah tovah on the upcoming Yom Kippur!


Rabbi Ezra Attieh zs"l

After the capture of Jerusalem's Old City by the Jordanian Legion, Rabbi Ezra Attieh zs"l, the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivat Porat Yosef, and Rabbi David Laniado zs"l, among the leading Kabbalists in the yeshivah, came to visit Rabbi Ben Siyon Hazzan zs"l, who had remained in the Jewish Quarter until its fall.

When they arrived in his home, the two rabbis sat on the ground and recited the chapter in Tehillim that laments, "Along the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and we even cried, as we remembered Siyon." After they calmed just a bit, Rabbi Ezra asked, "The large library and its treasures, the books and huge collections of manuscripts - what happened to them?"

Rabbi Ben Siyon informed him that they were burned.

Rabbi Ezra began reciting the kinah, "Sha'ali Serufah Ba'esh," which was composed as a lamentation over the burning of the sacred books in France.

He then asked, "And the Batei Kenesset, what about them?"

They, too, were destroyed.

They sat and shed tears like rivers. Rabbi Ezra asked about every building and was informed that everything was destroyed. Finally, he stood up, placed his hand on Rabbi Ben Siyon's shoulder, and said, "You shall restore foundations laid long ago. We will build Jerusalem yet, and it will yet return to our hands, with Hashem's help."

He immediately invested his efforts in the restoration project, in an effort to rebuild the yeshivah in the new city. Seven years later, the groundbreaking ceremony of the yeshivah building in the Geulah neighborhood was held. The rabbi instructed that the invitations and announcements of the event should begin with the pasuk, "Men from your midst shall rebuild ancient ruins, you shall restore foundations laid long ago, and you shall be called repairer of fallen walls, restorer of lanes for habitation."

"What a perfect pasuk," they all fervently responded. "Where is it written?"

"You do not know?" the Rosh Yeshivah asked in wonderment. "It is an explicit pasuk in the haftarah of Yom Kippur! It is a divine promise to every individual who repents, and a promise to the community and nation at large, that anything that is ruined can be fixed, and everything that is destroyed, both physically and spiritually, can be rebuilt!"

May this occur speedily and in our days - on both the individual and national levels.

A Treasury of Halachot and Customs of the Festivals of Yisrael, Based on the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
by Rav David Yossef shlit"a

The Custom of "Kapparot" During the Asseret Yemei Teshuvah

There is a widespread custom throughout the Jewish people to conduct "kapparot" on Erev Yom Kippur. This entails taking a chicken for every member of the household and slaughtering it for atonement - and the customs of Israel are Torah. It is a sacred obligation to ensure to bring the chicken to be slaughtered by a G-d-fearing, expert shohet (slaughterer) known for his proficiency in the halachot of shehitah and who is careful to check the knife before and after slaughtering in compliance with the laws.

Several Aharonim have noted that because a shohet slaughters so many chickens on the night before Erev Yom Kippur, and many people rush and crowd around him to ask him to slaughter their kapparot, many mishaps occur during the slaughtering. There have been instances when rabbis came to check the knives and found nicks, which invalidate the knife for shehitah. In some cases chickens that were improperly slaughtered - and hence forbidden for consumption - were placed together with kosher chickens. Many slaughterers remain awake until late at night in order to slaughter all the kapparot, and the fatigue caused by the constant and rushed slaughtering leads to a certain laxity in checking the knife. They therefore may not detect a nick in the knife. They thus end up feeding non-kosher food to Jews before the sacred day of Yom Kippur.

Therefore, many Aharonim have instructed people to conduct the kapparot slaughtering several days before Erev Yom Kippur so as to minimize the pressure and haste of the shohet. Slaughterers will then have the time and peace of mind to check the knife carefully, and the shehitah itself will be performed slowly and with concentration, as is required during such an important act. A sacred obligation rests upon the shoulders of the rabbis in every location to oversee the slaughterers with a watchful eye during kapparot in the Asseret Yemei Teshuvah and thereby reduce mishaps as much as possible. The custom is that the shohetim show their knives to the local rabbi between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and are tested by him. If any deficiency is detected either in the validity of the knife or the proficiency of the shohet, the shohet is removed from his post.

A person should contemplate thoughts of teshuvah during the kapparot ceremony. He should think in his heart that he deserves to experience everything done to the chicken, which corresponds to the four types of capital punishment administered by the Bet-Din. The shohet's grabbing hold of the chicken's trachea and esophagus before the shehitah resembles "henek" (strangulation); the slaughtering itself parallels "hereg" (execution by the sword); throwing the chicken down to the ground corresponds to "sekilah" (stoning), and the roasting symbolizes "serefah" (execution by burning). By imagining these things occurring to oneself and contemplating teshuvah, he earns the forgiveness of Hashem - whose hand is outstretched, prepared to accept those who return.

Some have the practice of giving the chickens to the poor after they are slaughtered. It is preferable, however, for one to eat the chicken himself and give money to the poor. (The reason is that a poor person may be embarrassed over having been given the chicken upon whose head the owner had symbolically cast all his sins.)


All Because of a Little Temptation

A scientist once saw a most unusual sight. A toad was seen as it suddenly lifted its front leg and moved one of its fingers. It was as if the toad was conducting a large orchestra. Then, all of a sudden, a lizard approached. The lizard gazed intently at the motioning finger, enraptured by the strange gesticulations. The lizard slowly and gradually came nearer and nearer to get a closer look until it stood near the toad's jaws. And then - then - the toad waited not a moment longer before jumping and swallowing the curious lizard.

Several different means of luring or tempting potential prey exist in nature. One South American creature moves at an extraordinarily slow pace - making it very difficult to catch insects, which move with far greater speed than it. So what does it do when it gets hungry? It activates its special glands that secrete a strong-smelling substance. This smell attracts many insects who very quickly fall prey to this creature and become its meal.

We can find innumerable examples of lure and temptation among animals. What can we say? It is indeed interesting and quite fascinating to learn of the different methods of luring, but within the realm of nature and scientific study, luring is a part of life, necessary for survival. This instinct was implanted within these creatures in order to enable them survive; they have no free choice or ability to change their behavior. But when it comes to the primary being of creation - the human being - this becomes a different story entirely. Temptation in the human realm is considered - for good reason - improper behavior, worthy of condemnation. For us Jews, temptation is akin to "genevat da'at" - misleading others. The human being is the only creature that can decide whether to act in a manner whereby the ends justify the means, and thus reach a level lower than the animals who act this way - as stated, without any free choice. For us Jews, the guardian against such conduct is the spiritual reinforcement provided by Torah study, as we are commanded, "You shall engage in it day and night."


"A Nation Whose Language You Do Not Understand" (2)

[Taken from the work, "U'Moshe Hayah Ro'eh"]

Flashback: Rabbi Moshe Pardo zs"l, a successful, middle-aged businessman, decided to devote himself to Torah education for girls of Sephardic descent. Hundreds of young women studied in the seminary he established and the building could no longer contain the rising number of students. He purchased a giant plot of land for the site of a new, larger educational facility and received all the necessary variances, but did not have the funds necessary for the building project. He was advised to go to the United States to raise money, but he had never been there before and spoke no English. His rabbi told him, "If you knew English, you would rely on your communication skills. Now that you do not speak English, you will rely on the Al-mighty. And it is far better to rely on the Al-mighty than to rely on English."

Rabbi Moshe did not second-guess his rabbi. He made the necessary preparations for the trip and went to the "Kehilat Yaakov" zs"l to receive his blessing.

"You are going - go in life and peace," was the blessing.

"But I speak no English," he remarked.

"In order to pray, it is enough to speak lashon hakodesh," came the reply.

Equipped with the blessings of the gedolim and accompanied by the prayers of hundreds of students and their parents, he stepped onto the ramp to the plane.

If it weren't for his firm faith and trust, he would have felt lost. The steward distributed on the plane the forms to be filled out for passport control at the airport. The forms were in English, and they had to be filled out in this language. He asked the person sitting next to him for help.

He reached the window at passport control, and the immigration official asked him all the usual questions: for what purpose he had come, how long he plans on staying, where he plans on staying - questions meant to ensure that he comes as a tourist and not with the intention to remain as an illegal alien. But Rabbi Moshe did not understand the questions, and therefore gave no responses…

With the grace of G-d the official forewent on the answers and signed his passport. Rabbi Moshe picked up his bag and left the airport. He handed a cabdriver the piece of paper on which someone wrote for him the name of a kosher, inexpensive inn where he would stay. He sat comfortably in the cab and prayed.

Back in Israel people had provided him with a number of addresses of generous donors who honor and respect Torah and with whom he should consult. Sure enough, one gave him a hundred dollars, another fifty - eventually he had more or less enough to pay the price of airfare. But none of them could donate a building to allow him to start the project.

He had with him one address, of Mr. Isaac Shalom, a well-known textile manufacturer who supported Torah. He headed the "Ossar Ha'Torah" project which supported Torah educational institutions in France, Morocco and Persia. There was strong hope that the Torah education of Sephardic girls in the Holy Land would also be an issue close to his heart, and he might therefore join the campaign to build them an educational facility.

Rabbi Moshe telephoned him and set up an appointment - in Hebrew. He hailed a taxi, entered the cab, and gave the driver the address - the borough, street, and number. The driver understood the neighborhood - Manhattan. He could not, however, make out the road or number. He spoke English, and Rabbi Moshe spoke Hebrew. He figured he'd drive to Manhattan and then he would ask again.

When they reached Manhattan, the driver asked Rabbi Moshe for the address again, but Rabbi Moshe did not understand the question. The taxi drove and drove, from one street to the next and from one avenue to the next, and in the meantime the price rose higher and higher. Rabbi Moshe lost his patience and said, "Stop!" - an international term. The driver stopped the cab, and Rabbi Moshe paid the fee and stepped out into the street. He found himself lost and alone in a strange and foreign metropolis.

To be continued

A Summary of the Shiur Delivered on Mossa'ei Shabbat by Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a

Asseret Yemei Teshuvah

Yom Kippur does not atone for sins committed against one's fellow until he asks him forgiveness. Even after returning the money or goods taken unlawfully, one does not earn atonement unless he asks forgiveness. Hazal comment (Vayikra Rabbah 33:3) that regardless of how many sins one has, the sin of theft "prosecutes" against him first, before all the others. Therefore, if one has some monetary dispute with another, he should not insist that he is necessarily correct, but should rather consult with a competent rabbinic authority to rule as to whether or not he must pay the given sum of money or goods. Even if no one makes a claim, one should ask a Torah scholar to ensure that he owes no money. Verbal abuse is considered worse than monetary abuse (Baba Messi'a 58b); therefore, one must ask forgiveness even from one whom he simply berated verbally, as he thereby violated the Torah prohibition against verbal abuse. If one embarrassed or humiliated another, it is considered akin to murder (Baba Messi'a, ibid.).

One should not be cruel and unwilling to forgive those who have wronged him; if one does not forgive, he will not be forgiven for his sins. Hazal comment (Shabbat 151b) that whoever has compassion on others will earn divine compassion. No one can feel confident that he will earn a favorable judgment in the heavens; but if one treats others kindly beyond the strict letter of the law, then he is similarly judged with compassion beyond the strict letter of the law.

These days are particularly suited for teshuvah, as the prophet Yeshayahu declares, "Seek Hashem when He is found; call to Him when He is close" (Yeshayahu 55:6). Hazal explain that G-d is "close" to individuals during this period from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur. Hazal say (Rosh Hashanah 17b) that one who repents during this period is forgiven, whereas one who does not cannot earn forgiveness even if he would bring all the choicest animals in the world as sacrifices. The mishnah in Pirkei Avot (4:11) describes repentance and good deeds as "a shield against calamity." The Gemara in Masechet Shabbat (32a) compares teshuvah and good deeds to "defense attorneys" - the only means by which one can escape punishment when standing trial.

Senyar Bat Mazal and Yis'hak Shaul Ben Leah

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