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Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur

The 'Ten Days of Repentance': Caught in Waiting…

Published on Sunday November 14th, 2021

During the ten days of Teshuvah (repentance), it is necessary to watch one's actions, to repent totally for our misdeeds, and to increase our Mitzvot, and our acts of kindness and charity. This is because during these days, the balance of judgment is in the hands of Hashem and the outcome of the average person's judgment is suspended and waiting. If they are deserving, they will be inscribed for life and if they are not, for the opposite, G-d forbid. So, let us return to Hashem before the days of our life are tarnished and we have to report to the Heavenly court.

Although repentance and supplication are welcome at every moment, during this period, they are even more beautiful and are accepted immediately. As our Sages explained in the verse, "Seek Hashem when He is accessible, call Him while He is near", these are the ten days of repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
"Good Behaviour" During These Days

It is written in the Shulchan Aruch [503]: "Let man be watchful during the ten days of penance, even on things he is not accustomed to paying attention to all the time throughout the year''. Our Sages explain that, although man takes pious measures upon himself and knows that, after Yom Kippur, he will not pursue them, despite this, the act of having succeeded in changing and breaking his habits, may have an influence on him in the future, so that he will continue to rise and come closer to the Creator of the world. How much so should we strengthen ourselves in the obligatory Mitzvot according to the strict law? But the bad inclination prevents us from paying attention to them and accomplishing them. We will discuss some examples that many people are not aware of.

Public Prayer

One area which people are not aware of its importance is public prayer. The Sages explained the verse [Brachot 8a]: "My prayer is to you at the propitious moments".

What are these propitious moments? At the moment when the community prays, because Hashem does not denigrate group prayers, as it is said [Yov 36.5]: "See, G-d is powerful and he ignores scorn; He is sovereign by the force of reason. The Lord said, "Anyone studying the Torah, doing acts of charity and praying in a congregation, will be considered as if he had redeemed Me and My sons from among the nations of the world.'' Moreover, our Sages teach us [Taanit 8a]: "Rabbi Ami said," The prayer of man is only heard if he places his soul in his palm [he prays fervently] " as it is said [Eicha 3.41]:" Let us lift up our hearts with our hands to G-d, who is in Heaven! However, there is another verse that says [Tehillim 78:36]: "They made love to him with their mouths, in words they offered him liar homages''. In spite of all this, it is written, "He is merciful, and expiates the sins."

We see from here that although they did not pray with a very intense fervor and that their hearts were not in it, in spite of everything, Hashem received their prayers and forgave them. How is it possible? The Talmud says that it depends: If a person prays with the congregation, even with mediocre fervor, Hashem expiates his transgressions. On the other hand, if he prays alone, his prayer is listened to only on the condition that he places his soul in his palm and directs his whole heart towards his Creator! Indeed, who can testify about himself that he is able to pray fervently from the beginning to the end of the prayer?!

But the Shulchan Aruch [90.16], writes that one must make efforts and even walk for eighteen minutes (960 meters), in order to go and pray with the community. It is only if there is no community in such a radius, that one has a status of "anus" ("constrained") and is relieved of his obligation. If he has the status of an 'anus', or if he cannot walk for health reasons, he will have to pray at the same time as the community [90.9]. According to the Mishnah Brurah [paragraph 52]: "This is an explicit reprimand for those people who are in town and who, out of laziness, do not pray with the community." The Sages also taught [Brachot 8a]: "Anyone who has a synagogue in his city and does not go there to pray is called a bad neighbor."

Therefore, we must strengthen ourselves and pray Shacharit (morning prayer), Mincha (afternoon prayer) and Arvit (evening prayer) with the community. The test is more difficult for people living in places where there are few synagogues or when the service starts too early, and for that reason, they miss praying with the community every day, or allow themselves to come only on Mondays and Thursdays for the reading of the Torah.

Nevertheless, our Sages have said [Pirkei Avot 5.22]: "The reward is a function of the effort", it depends on the intensity of a person's fight against his bad inclination. Due to error and habit, this problem is becoming more and more widespread, and the people concerned no longer even have a bad conscience regarding this, as it says [Yoma 86b]: "A person having transgressed a commandment and who repeats it, ends up believing that this is allowed, because he becomes insensitive to the gravity of his sin ", G-d forbid.

A wise person is one with his head on his shoulders. When he knows that getting up early is difficult for him, he will choose to go to bed at a reasonable time so that he does not put himself to the test, for there is an artifice of the evil inclination to keep men awake late at night, and this is only to prevent them from praying with the assembly the following morning, because he knows the considerable importance of praying with the congregation.

Even if a person has returned late from a party, they must be strong as a lion to get up and pray with the community. Indeed, this is the first written in the Shulchan Aruch [1.1]: "Be strong as the lion to rise in the morning and serve your Creator". The Mishnah Brurah [paragraph 1] writes: "For this is why man was created - to serve his Creator", as the verse emphasizes: "All those who claim My Name, all those who for My glory, I created. Even if your bad inclination tells you in winter: "How are you going to get up with such a cold", or in summer: "How are you going to get up from your bed when you have not slept enough?" mistreat him and do not listen to him.

Let him rather consider with what prudence and zeal he would have served a king of flesh and blood, and thus all the more so, if it is the King of Kings, the Blessed One Be He. The wise man hears this and learns from it.

The Study of Halacha (law)

The Sages said [Brachot 8a]: "Since the Temple was destroyed, Hashem has only two meters of Halacha to dwell among us." They explained the verse "Hashem loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Yaakov'' in this way: Hashem loves the doors where one excels in Halacha, more than synagogues and houses of study. The Maharsha and the Yaavetz explain that Hashem loves study centers where one deepens one's knowledge of Halacha, (these places are compared to the Lishkat Hagazit- the place where the Sanhedrin sat during the second Temple and on which the Divine Presence resided) much more than centers of study where one does not learn Halacha. It is obvious that a person who does not master halacha will surely transgress mitzvot in many areas of life, for the ignorant cannot fear sin, and the uneducated cannot be pious.

Let us explore what the giant of the Torah, the Shiftei Cohen [Yore De'a 246.5] wrote: "There are baleh batim (people who work during the day) who study every day the Talmud, with Rashi's comments, but they do not study halachic decisions. In truth however, they should study the books of the decision makers about the concrete law, because it is the root and the essence of our Torah. Moreover, they do not fulfill their obligation to learn Torah, just by studying the Talmud”.

Therefore, even if they study only three or four hours a day, they must not study only learn Gemara (Talmud). The Gaon Rabbi Zalman also writes: "A man who does not have so much time, must direct all time to learning the laws that affect his actions; the laws that everyone must know, in order to perform the Mitzvot, and to avoid stumbling and doing aveirot, G-d forbid."

Let us praise Hashem, for we deserve to see the fulfillment of the prophecy of Amos [8:11]: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, where I will send a famine into the land: it will be neither the hunger for bread nor the thirst for water, but the need to hear the words of the Lord. "

That is why we must teach, with force and vigor, the people returning to The Rocks of all Rocks, the laws that are relevant today, so that they know the path they must take and the behavior that is expected of them.. As the commentators have explained about the passage in prayer: "Bring us, our Father to your Torah ... make us return to complete repentance before Your Face". To begin, we must begin with the Torah, in order to know how to behave: not to transgress Shabbat because of lack of knowledge, not to make blessings in vain, etc ... And only after that, we must reach the level of "Make us return to complete repentance before Your Face.” Before that, one cannot arrive at total repentance.

Thank G-d, today, many men and women have realized the importance of learning the concrete laws, and in many places, courses on practical laws, together with "exams" and questionnaires are flourishing. In order to accustom the public to learn and revise these laws, booklets that are written with simple language, accessible to the greatest number: men, women and children are available. Happy are the people who give merit to others and gratify the public with diplomas and rewards, because, about them, it is said: "Those who make the public deserving are like eternal stars". Moreover, their faults do not remain in their hands. May they be happy in this world and in the world to come.

One Day is Equivalent to One Year

The seven days separating Rosh Hashanah from Yom Kippur are equivalent to each day of the week in the past year. Every day, we must intensify our repentance and our Torah study, according to our abilities. It is also necessary to have in mind that our daily repentance is to atone for the sins committed each day of the year.

For example: Sunday, it will be necessary to intend to repair all acts committed during the Sundays throughout the year, and this goes for all the days of the week and in particular for Shabbat. One must have in mind to repair all the damage caused throughout all the Shabbatot of the previous year.

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