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A Summary of the Shiur Delivered on Mossa'ei Shabbat by Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
The Halachot of the Cancellation of Debts After the Shemitta Year

There is a misvat aseh to cancel all outstanding debts on the shemitta year (Devarim 15). One who claims from his lender a debt after the shemitta year also violates the negative prohibition of "he shall not dun his fellow. " This misvah applies on the level of Torah law only when the requirements of the "yovel" (jubilee) year apply. Since the misvot of yovel apply only when all Jews live in Eress Yisrael, it does not apply nowadays. Therefore, the requirement of remitting debts does not apply on the level of Torah law nowadays. It does, however, apply on the level of rabbinic enactment, both in and out of Eress Yisrael, to both men and women.

The remission of debts takes place only at the end of the shemitta year. One may therefore collect all loans given throughout the shemitta year. Once the sun sets on the eve of Rosh Hashanah following a shemitta year, one may no longer collect his debts. Shemitta does not cancel debts whose time of payment has not arrived by the eve of Rosh Hashanah.

Therefore, one who lends to another for a period of ten years may collect his loan at the end of the ten-year period. Similarly, since a loan is assumed to be given for thirty days unless stipulated otherwise, one who lends money without stipulating a given period during the month of Elul of a shemitta year may collect the loan.

Hillel Hazaken noticed that wealthy people refrained from lending money to the poor during the shemitta year, fearing that they would not be repaid before the end of the shemitta year and thus lose their money. This refusal to lend out of this concern violates the Torah's prohibition, "Beware, lest you harbor the base thought, the seventh year, the year of shemitta, is approaching, so that you are mean to your needy kinsman." He therefore established the "pruzbul," which allows lenders to collect their loans after the shemitta year. This institution works only when shemitta applies on the level of rabbinic enactment, not when it is in effect on the level of Torah law. The pruzbul entails coming before the Bet Din and stating that one will collect his debts. The judges or two witnesses sign at the bottom of the document containing this declaration. If the lender does not want to come before a Bet Din, he can make a pruzbul before two witnesses who sign on the document. The judges need not know anything about the debts in question. One must ensure that none of the judges are related to one another, though a judge may be a relative of the lender or borrower.

As the pruzbul cancels only loans given before its signing, it is preferable to sign the pruzbul on Erev Rosh Hashanah after the shemitta year. One who borrows money from a non-observant Jew who will not write a pruzbul may repay his loan after the shemitta year, and does not thereby violate the prohibition against facilitating Torah violations. In these situations we may rely on the position that the remission of debts does not apply nowadays at all.


Dear Brothers,

It is customary on this Shabbat, Shabbat Teshuvah, for the rav to deliver a special sermon before his congregation. Hazal say, "When the scholar lectures and people respond after him, 'Yehe Shemeh hagadol mevorach" - even if one has a document of harsh decrees written against him for one hundred years, the Al-mighty forgives him" (Kohellet Rabbah 9:21). We must therefore ensure to show proper respect to the kaddish recited after the "derashah" and answer "Yehe Shemeh Rabbah" with intense concentration.

However, we read in our parashah, "Moshe went and spoke to all of Benei Yisrael." The Keli Yakar explains, "Moshe wishes to urge them to do teshuvah. Since a person does not recognize his own faults, it says 'Moshe went,' implying that he went from tent to tent, to each one in Yisrael individually, and spoke these words to his heart, that is, matters of teshuvah, which depend upon speech, as it says, 'Take with you words and return to Hashem.'"

This was the extent of the devotion of Moshe Rabbenu, the faithful shepherd. We are also told about Shemuel Hanavi, "He would go every year throughout Bet-El, Gilgal and Misspah to judge Yisrael in all these places" (Shemuel I 7:16).

We also learn (Tanna Debei Eliyahu 11): "The seventy thousand people killed in Givat Binyamin - why were they killed? Because the Sanhedrin should have tied iron chains on their waists and raise their clothing over their knees and go throughout all the towns of Yisrael - one day in Lachish, one day in Bet-El, one day in Hevron, one day in Yerushalayim - as well as in all the places of Yisrael, to teach Yisrael in order that the Al-mighty's Name be exalted and sanctified in all the worlds that He created, from beginning to end."

When we see our father and shepherd, Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a, may Hashem increase his days and years with goodness and pleasantness, traveling throughout Eress Yisrael to assemblies of teshuvah to awaken the hearts and restore Torah's glory to its place, his sacred words broadcast in hundred of locations, his works and rulings of halachah found in every Jewish home - we see a faithful shepherd who shows us through his example the path to follow. We may not sit complacently; there are so many who thirst for the word of Hashem, who yearn for the light of Torah. Initiate Torah classes, participate in them, register your children for Torah education, take part in the return of the nation's heart to its Father in heaven!

Gemar Hatimah Tovah,

Aryeh Deri


Reb Nahumke (15)

Flashback: Nahumke had been through many vicissitudes of fate, ups, downs and turns: he left the yeshivah of Beisgelah because his peers tormented him; he was expelled from the yeshivah of Shavel after being caught involved in card playing; then he roamed from one yeshivah to the next to open a new page. Indeed, the Gaon of Vilna zs"l said, "The stubborn will succeed." Nahumke's star shone in the yeshivah of Pinsk and then in the Mir yeshivah. The Rosh Yeshivah recommended him as the best student and Reb Yosef Eliezer, a wealthy supporter of Torah from the city of Neishveis, chose him as a son-in-law.

The story of Reb Nahumke, who is now about to build his home, is not yet complete. However, now that his days as a bachelor have come to an end, we find it worthwhile at this point to cite the comments of his biographer, Rabbi Yisrael David Miller z"l, who reported that many people complained about his story. Reb Nahumke was revered by tens of thousands; he was an exalted sadik, a remarkable man of kindness, a living example of perfection. Why did the author tell of the darkness of Nahumke's childhood? Why did he publicize the fact that he never studied in Torah schools, that he ran away from the yeshivah, that a mischievous friend led him to waste time playing cards, and that he was shamefully expelled from the yeshivah?

The author responded that to the contrary, we should read this and realize that not all Torah giants and spiritual leaders were born and raised in homes of greatness; not all of them earned a childhood of Torah. This serves as a perfect example of those "children of the needy from whom Torah will go forth."

He did not even learn in a Torah elementary school, and he could not find his place in yeshivah. He joined a cantorial choir, he hired himself out as a worker in a wine cellar - but each time he caught himself and returned banging on the doors of the yeshivah. When he found himself outside, he went to a different yeshivah to start anew. The glory eventually comes; he ultimately found success, success that was hardly matched in recent generations! Still, some may ask, this is the perspective and outlook of the author, but who said it is correct, that it is indeed worthwhile to tell of all the turmoil encountered by the sadik before he established himself and succeeded? We therefore merited the enthusiastic approbation of a giant from that generation, a close friend of Reb Nahumke, Rav Alexander Moshe Lapidot zs"l, the rabbi of Reisin, who testifies that he reviewed the entire work "and it is entirely beautiful." This is how it must be written, in order to encourage others to follow his path!

Let us now return to the story of Reb Nahumke. He traveled with the accompaniment of a caravan to the town of Neishvis. The accompaniment of a caravan was necessary due to the danger of the roads during that time. The Russians had captured Poland, and the Polish underground instilled its fear upon the wayfarers, dispatching bands of vagabonds to attack and rob. Nahumke therefore could not travel to Beisgelah to visit his mother and inform her of his engagement. The regions were blocked off from one another, and all he could do was write an emotional letter. He later discovered that the letter never reached its destination.

To be continued



Everyone inhales dust into his lungs, some more and some less. Some may ask, which locations have more dust, and which less? The least dusty areas are the tops of mountains. Next comes the surface of the sea, followed by villages, towns, and industrial areas. The dustiest areas, one should know, are residences. The amount of dust in a room at home has ten or twenty times as much dust as the street.

Who would have imagined that dust plays an important and crucial role in nature? Although such a notion never dawns on most people, the truth is that the earth is filled with light thanks to dust. What more, rains fall because of the large amount of dust in the atmosphere. How does this work? As we know, the sun's rays provide us with light. However, the sun shines on the moon, as well, and yet the moon is dark while we enjoy brilliant sunlight! The reason for this is simple. The sun's rays descend upon the particles of dust in the atmosphere and are then refracted towards the human eye. On the moon, there is no atmosphere and hence there are no dust particles. The rays of light hit the moon's surface directly and therefore do not shine. As mentioned, dust also plays a vital role in the production of rain. As we know, rain comes from the oceans and sea. This vapor, upon ascending to great heights in the sky, condenses and turns into tiny water particles. These particles then form larger raindrops that fall to the ground. Can water vapor turn to particles in an empty vacuum? Or, more precisely, can gases turn to liquid in space? The answer is clearly in the negative. Gases turn to liquid only when they have a solid point on which to take hold. The millions upon millions of dust particles floating through the atmosphere serve as this solid point for the vapor, allowing them to become raindrops.

How large is a particle of dust? Tiny and invisible. In and of itself, a dust particle has no effect - beneficial or detrimental - upon the human being. However, when it joins millions of other particles it has a most significant impact upon us. These tiny particles are responsible for the abundance of light in our world, and on account of their cooperation come the rains, which we need so desperately. We Jews, who learn from all things in nature, certainly learn from this a critical lesson: unity. This is the power of unity. Although each Jew has the power to change worlds through his prayer and kindness, during these times our unity provides the strength we need to change the current situation for the benefit of Am Yisrael.


"For on this day He will atone for you to purify you, from all your sins"

The mishnah at the end of Masechet Yoma says: "Rabbi Elazar Ben Azaryah taught the following: 'For on this day He will atone for you to purify you from all your sins before Hashem' - Yom Kippur atones for transgressions between man and the Al-mighty; Yom Kippur does not atone for transgressions between man and his fellow until he appeases his fellow. Rabbi Akiva said, fortunate are you, Yisrael! Before whom are you purified, and who purifies you? Your Father in heaven! As it says, 'I will cast upon you purifying waters, and you will be purified,' and it says, 'Hashem is Yisrael's mikveh.' Just as a mikveh purifies the impure, so does the Al-mighty purify Yisrael!"

"For on this day He will atone for you to purify you, from all your sins"

Am Yisrael is likened to "the tents of Kedar" and "Shelomoh's tapestries" (Shir Hashirim 1:5). The Midrash (Shir Hashirim 1:37) explains that the tents of Kedar - of the Arabs - appear unsightly, dark and worn out on the outside but their interior is lavishly decorated with precious stones and jewels. Similarly, even the spiritually empty among Benei Yisrael are filled with misvot like a pomegranate is filled with seeds, they are believers, the children of believers - the sacred nation of Yisrael!

Lest one think that they resemble the tents of Kedar in that they remain black and displeasing forever, and are never cleaned, the pasuk tells us that they are like the tapestries of Shelomoh. Just as these tapestries are dirtied and then cleaned, and again become soiled only to be laundered once more, similarly, even if Benei Yisrael become filthy from sin throughout the year, Yom Kippur comes and atones for them: "For on this day He will atone for you to purify you, from all your sins before Hashem you shall be purified."

"For on this day He will atone for you to purify you, from all your sins"

Responding to his mother's request that he dress up like his brother to receive Yis'hak's blessing, Yaakov Avinu says, "But my brother Esav is a hairy man, while I am smooth-skinned." This pasuk contains a deep allusion, as the Midrash says (Yalkut Shimoni 114), comparing Yaakov and Esav to a bald man and hairy man standing near a granary. A wind comes and blows chaff in their direction. The dirt got caught in the thick hair of one bystander, while the second easily wiped the filth from his head. Similarly, Esav gets caught in the thicket of sin all year round and cannot remove them; Yaakov, on the other hand - Yom Kippur comes and cleans him: "For on this day He will atone for you to purify you, from all your sins."

In Pesikta Rabbati 11 it says: "Why are Yisrael compared to a nut (Shir Hashirim 6:11)? Because when all other fruits fall in mud, they become soiled and repulsive in the eyes of people. But the nut, when it falls and becomes dirty, it is washed and eaten. Similarly, even if Yisrael are dirtied from sin throughout the year, Yom Kippur comes and they are cleaned from their wrongdoing, as it says, 'For on this day He will atone for you to purify you, from all your sins.'"

"For on this day He will atone for you to purify you, from all your sins"

The halachah follows the view that Yom Kippur atones only for those who repent. The obvious question arises, if teshuvah itself brings atonement, then what does the special atonement of the sacred day of Yom Kippur add?

Rabbenu Azaryah Pigo zs"l (Binah L'itim vol. 1, Derush 4 for Shabbat Shuvah) answers that on Yom Kippur, even one who repents out of fear - a type of repentance that normally cannot erase the sin completely, but only have it considered unintentional - earns complete atonement. Regarding this special atonement the pasuk states, "For on this day He will atone for you to purify you from all your sins." Meaning, on this day we are purified from all those "unintentional sins" that remain from our having repented out of fear, so long as "you will be purified" - we first do teshuvah out of fear. To this Rabbi Akiva referred when he exclaimed, "Fortunate are you, Yisrael! Before whom are you purified" when you perform teshuvah out of fear, "and who purifies you" to completely erase the sin? "Your Father in heaven!"


The Ar"i Hakadosh zy"a

As we know, Yom Kippur does not atone for sins committed between man and his fellow until he appeases him. If he owes the other money, he must pay him. Otherwise, Yom Kippur will not atone, and he will not earn expiation through his confession or sedakah. Rabbi Yaakov Kuli zs"l told a story that happened to a certain talmid hacham who came before the Ar"i Hakadosh zs"l and asked for a letter of recommendation as he was traveling to a certain city. The Ar"i Hakadosh said, "Go there and Hashem will grant you success; there you will find your mate."

Upon his arrival in that city, he was greeted with great honor as a result of the letter written by the Ar"i. One of the wealthy, prominent members of the community gave him his daughter as a wife including a large dowry and many gifts. He lived with her very happily for three months, until she suddenly fell ill and died, bequeathing to him all her possessions. Brokenhearted, he left the town and returned to Sefat. He came before the Ar"i and told him what happened. The Ar"i replied, "Do you remember so-and-so, who took large amounts of money from you and lost it, causing you great distress? You should know that his soul was reincarnated in that young woman; she came to the world only to repay you for the anguish and financial loss you suffered on his account."

Upon hearing this, the man trembled and emotionally recited the pasuk, "Wondrous in purpose and mighty in deed, whose eyes observe all the ways of men, so as to repay every man according to his ways and with the proper fruit of his deeds!" (Yirmiyahu 32:19). Indeed, Hashem's ways are truly wondrous, as He pays each person precisely in accordance with his actions! Rabbi Yaakov Kuli zs"l told another story of a shopkeeper who tricked someone by using a faulty measure. The man told him, "Your tricking me does not cause me as much anger as it does distress, as I know that you will have to come back to the world in reincarnated form in order to correct this wrong!"

A Treasury of Halachot and Customs of the Festivals of Yisrael According to the Rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
by Rav David Yossef shlit"a

The Kiddush Cup (continued)

The cup must be large enough to contain a "revi'it," which amounts to around 86 grams or milliliters. (The Hebrew word "kos" - cup- has the numerical value of 86.) If the cup does not contain this volume, it may not be used for kiddush, even "bedi'avad" (ex post facto). One must drink from the cup the amount of "melo lugmav" (a cheek-full), or a majority of a "revi'it" (44 ml).

If one's kiddush cup contains exactly a "revi'it" and no more, he should not place an ice cube into the cup, as this lessens the amount of wine in the cup. The ice cube does not count towards the required amount so long as it has not melted and dissolved into the wine. One must try to use an unblemished cup, which is not broken or cracked. If it has a crack or puncture in its bottom such that wine drips from the cup through the hole or crack, one may not use the cup for kiddush, even in dire situations. If, however, the cup is broken in its upper edge, and no wine is spilled as a result, one should preferably not use this cup for kiddush but may do so in dire situations. If a cup's bottom base is broken but it has no hole or crack, and thus no wine drips from the cup, one should preferably not recite kiddush with this cup. In dire situations where no other cup is available, this cup may be used.

Disposable cups made from paper or plastic may be used for kiddush. Nevertheless, if one has another cup he should preferably recite kiddush over the non-disposable cup, since using a disposable cup does not enhance the misvah. Hazal comment on the pasuk, "This is my G-d, and I will glorify Him" that one must beautify the misvot. If one can honor the misvah by reciting kiddush over a nicer cup, he is deserving of blessing.

If one has no cup for kiddush but he has a bottle with a narrow spout, he may recite kiddush over the bottle. While reciting kiddush he should look at the wine in the bottle from the outside.

High-Quality Wine

It is a special misvah to select fine, high-quality wine for kiddush.

The Wine's Color

It is a misvah to use red wine for kiddush. The custom of the Sefaradim and eastern communities is to use red wine even if higher quality white wine is available. If one has only white wine, he may use it for kiddush. (He should preferably mix some red wine into it. This does not violate the prohibition of coloring on Shabbat, as this prohibition does not apply to food or beverages.) If one has white wine which is not very white, and it is of higher quality than the red wine, it takes precedence. One may recite kiddush over black-colored wine.


A student once wrote to his rabbi, the sadik Rav Yehezkel Levenstein zs"l, and, as is customary, he wrote at the beginning and end of the letter warm wishes for his well being. In his letter of response, the rabbi wrote, "Think what a great exchange you made! You blessed me with your blessings, the blessings of a flesh and blood human being, and in exchange you received blessings from the heavens above, the blessing of the Creator of the world, as it says, 'And I will bless those who bless you' (Beresheet 12:3; Beresheet Rabbah 66:6)." Can a person make a better deal than that?

Allow me, my dear brothers and friends, to take advantage of this beautiful idea and bless all of you from the bottom of my heart, each and every one of you. You should all merit a gemar hatimah tovah, good health and strength, life, prosperity, salvation, consolation, redemption, forgiveness, atonement and the fulfillment of all your wishes. We should all merit to see the restoration of the pride of Yisrael and the honor of the Torah, with the revelation of the glory of Hashem speedily, with wondrous and overt compassion and kindness.

Let us increase our love and sense of fraternity towards others, each person shall bless all his friends and acquaintances with heartfelt feelings, and one who prays for his friend has his prayers answered first. We shall merit a gemar hatimah tovah!


Rosh Hashanah, the day of judgment, is behind us. Let us hope that we passed through it peacefully and a good, sweet year was inscribed for us, that we should "be a head and not a tail," just as we asked and wished for ourselves. The Berayta in Masechet Rosh Hashanah (16a) says that if someone suffered harm before Yom Kippur, it had been decreed before the previous Rosh Hashanah. Rashi explains that the sentence was issued on the Yom Kippur of the previous year. If the damage occurred after Yom Kippur, it was decreed on that Yom Kippur that just passed. This Berayta speaks not of Rosh Hashanah as the determining day, but Yom Kippur.

The Ritva zs"l clarified this issue for us. As we know, "a person is judged on Rosh Hashanah, and his sentence is sealed on Yom Kippur." What does this mean? What is the "inscription" of Rosh Hashanah and "sealing" of Yom Kippur? The Ritva explains in terms familiar to us from legal systems here on earth. When a trial takes place, various proofs are brought for both sides and arguments regarding their reliability and weight ensue. Prosecution and defense wrestle with one another and ultimately a decision is rendered - guilty or innocent - concerning all the different charges brought against the defendant. If the individual is entitled to compensation or charged a fine, the precise amount is determined on a different date; a separate discussion is devoted to figuring out these details. Character witnesses are brought, claims are presented arguing for softening the punishment, he expresses regret - and only then is the amount determined.

This is the "hiddush" of the Ritva. The symbol of the month of Tishrei is the scale, since on Rosh Hashanah the misvot are weighed in relation to the sins. The Creator knows the innermost thoughts of every creature, understands every action and the thoughts behind them. On the one hand, "there is no righteous man in the world who does only good and does not sin." On the other hand, even the empty among us are filled with misvot as a pomegranate is filled with seeds. Everything is weighed and considered, and the Creator Himself issues His ruling: on this charge so-and-so is innocent; on these charges not exactly innocent.

Afterwards, a date is set for the sentencing: Yom Kippur.

This is a day of kindness and compassion, the day on which the Satan has no power to prosecute against us, as only the angels of mercy are allowed to speak. On this day we stand and plead for a softening of the sentence, for forgiveness and atonement. We confess our misdeeds and plead for a pardon.

The fact is, however, that we are not always granted our request. Last year, for example, we were unsuccessful in our attempt to lighten the sentencing. Not only were we denied redemption, but we suffered one blow after another. The attacks on Netzarim in Gaza, the bombing in the Dolphinarium, the collapse of the Versailles wedding hall, the shooting on Ha'anafa Street in Gilo, Jerusalem, the devastating collapse of the Twin Towers - and this is only a partial list. These are just words with so much pain, suffering and grief behind them. We hope that the year will end together with its curses, and that Hashem will bring our suffering to an end. This past year the recession in Israel intensified, poverty increased, unemployment skyrocketed, businesses closed, workers were sent home; this year saw little rainfall in Israel and the Kinneret, the country's main water source, is drying out. All this and much more was decreed last Yom Kippur.

Why? Isn't it a day of forgiveness and mercy, on which our sins are atoned? Does not the Shechinah reside with us on this day, regarding which the prophet declares, "Seek Hashem when He can be found, call to Him when He is close"? If the Judge shows favor to the convict, if He listens to his pleas and refuses to hear the prosecution - how is it possible that, when all is said done, so many harsh decrees were sentenced? We ask this question with pain and trepidation, out of a sincere desire to understand and internalize the answer so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. What can we do to help ensure that on this Yom Kippur we will indeed be sealed for good life and peace?

Both the question and answer are written in the Torah - indeed, there is nothing not written in the Torah! The prophet Yeshayahu cites the question directed towards Hashem, "Why have we fasted and You have not seen - we afflicted our souls and You do not know?" The answer: "On the day of your fasting you find what you desire. " (Yeshayahu 58:3). The Messudat David explains that everyone found something with which to occupy himself in order to soothe the discomfort of fasting, rather than involving himself in teshuvah! One person may find enjoyment in the pleasantness of the prayers, another from talking with his friends. What will the Judge say, even with His abundance of mercy and compassion and desire to be kind, when the defendant stands before Him and his mind wanders, muttering requests for forgiveness from a written text and then immediately conversing with friends with total peace of mind? No, this is not the way: "For the day of Hashem is great, and very awesome - who can endure it? Yet even now, says Hashem, return back to Me with all your hearts, and with fasting, weeping and lamenting. Rend your hearts rather than your garments, and return back to Hashem your G-d. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in kindness, and renouncing punishment."

Eliyahu Ben Masuda and Yaakov Ben Senyar

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