Our Yom Kippur vort is being sponsored by Yossie and Elisheva Schulman of Ramat Beit Shemesh lilui nishmas for Elisheva’s uncle Moshe ben Yosef Matisyahu (Moshe Balsam). To Yossie, Elisheva and the Schulman family, may you all be inscribed and sealed for only simcha, success, good health, nachas from your children, and only good things in the year to come and to at least 120 years. Many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued multitude of kindnesses.
Friends, you can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
As Yom Kippur 5777 approaches, this author recalls a Yom Kippur some 43 years in our Jewish year of 5734. That Yom Kippur brought the surprise dual-frontal attacks on Israel by Egypt and Syria marking the beginning of the Yom Kippur War.
To this day, although Israel was to beat back these attacks which threatened her/our very existence some 19 days later, and actually emerged victorious solidifying her hold of Mt. Hermon and gaining additional areas of the Golan Heights while crossing the Suez Canal and encircling the Egyptian 3rd Army, we bare the scars of the Yom Kippur War by way of an evolution of engrained leftist elite of media, intelligencia, university professors, judges and politicians who came to the fore in the war’s wake. Those scars are firmly implanted in two generations of Israel’s governmental leaders and politicians, as well as substantial segments of Am Yisrael, the seeds of addictive dependency on a super-power for military aid, diplomatic support, etc., such that our leaders feel it necessary to conform to the dictates of the so-called “western powers” regarding our continued possession of parts of Eretz Yisrael, expulsions of Jews from Jewish lands, construction freezes in those areas and conformance to a hypocritical standard of “western morality” in time of war, against enemies committed to our eradication and annihilation. No country, including the United States has ever adhered to such “morality” in any war ever fought. Where else and who else would attempt to prosecute and incarcerate a soldier of their army who made sure that a terrorist, mortally wounded while attacking that soldier’s comrades, was in-fact dead?
We look back over these past 43 years, including the Gaza War of two summers ago and the current incarnation of the ongoing terror war against us, and try to glean lessons for our time, both positive in terms of the great unity achieved by the masses of Am Yisrael during the combat, and negative in terms of what we seem to have to keep learning, relearning and hopefully internalizing and taking to heart regarding how a war for Torah, a war for Jewish survival and sovereignty must halachically be fought.
This author makes a mental connection between preceding paragraphs and sefer “Inspiration and Insight”, volume 2; Discourses on the Holidays and Other Themes, by the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, z”l (translated and arranged by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, pages 91) which comments on the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy and cites a sefer, “Tomer Devorah” by the Ramak — R’ Moshe Kordevero; “a profound teacher of Zohar and a leading figure among Kabbalists of sixteenth century Sefad:
The Thirteen Attributes are meant to be emulated by man and the Ramak… show[s] how man can, indeed, pattern his own behavior after them.
“Who pardons iniquity” — Hashem Himself, and not any agent or deputy, grants man forgiveness for his sins. As David HaMelech expressed it: “for with You is the forgiveness” (Tehillim 130:4). Hashem Himself pours water, as it were, to wash away the stains from man’s soul. Should the sinner not feel shamed that the King of kings must wash away his filthy garments?
Tomer Devorah [writes]: “This is exactly how every person should be. One should never say, ‘Must I correct someone else’s sin or perversion?’ One should not think this way, for HaKadosh Baruch Hu Himself corrects man’s sins and cleanses the filth of his iniquity.”
“For the remnant of His heritage” — [remnant] means remnant and relative. Hashem loves Klal Yisrael as if the Jewish people were a close relative. Scripture states: “In all their sorrows, He is afflicted (Yeshayahu 63.9).” Hashem cannot bear His people’s pain or disgrace for the Jewish nation is His relative.
From Hashem’s love for us, we should learn how to love one another. In essence, all Jews are one. Our souls are united and in each soul there is a portion of all the others. This concept is the basis of the principle “all Jews are responsible for one another (Shavuot 39a).” Since each Jewish soul possesses a portion of all the others, when a Jew sins, his wrong affects not only his own soul, but also the collective soul of Israel.
The Mussaf portion of any prayers; Yom Tov, Rosh Chodesh, Shabbos represent the essence, the main point of that day.
On Yom Kippur, the essence of the service, the ikar is the avodah of the Kohen Godol. So much so is this the case that the Mussaf service centers around the order of the Kohen Godol’s service in the Kadosh Kedoshim (the Holy of Holies in the Beit HaMikdash). The service includes all of the preparations which the Kohen Godol makes prior to the service, the clothing he must wear at each step of the avodah, the number of times that the Kohen must bathe himself prior to each change of clothing and before each step of his service, the drawing of lots determining which goat is for Hashem and which for The Mountain of Azazel (the goat designated by lot to bear the burden of death to rectify B’nai Yisrael’s sins) and more.
The preparation of the Kohen for his service in the Kadosh Kedoshim, as previously described in Parshat Emor, even extends to appointing a substitute Kohen Godol to perform the avodah in the Kadosh Kedoshim should the annointed Kohen Godol become incapacitated, and designating a stand-by wife for the Kohen Godol in event that his current wife dies, in order that he satisfy halacha that he be married such as to enable him to atone for his household and thus be able to serve in the Kadosh Kedoshim on Yom Kippur on behalf of B’nei Yisrael. (as cited from Mishnayot Yoma — Artscroll Mishna Series, Perek 1, Mishna 1)
And by virtue of our being Hashem’s “most favored nation”, The Kohen Godol is to the Jews a paradigm of Hashem’s blueprint of what the Jews are to represent — Hashem’s Kohanim — His Priestly People to the other nations of Mankind.
It seems that in order to project Hashem’s paradigm of Majesty, of Kohanim to the nations and peoples fo the world, we must be unified within ourselves, within Am Yisrael. We saw great unity two summers ago during the Gaza War, but does the unity continue once the ground war ceased and the rockets stopped blitzing?
There is a d’var Torah by the Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, pages 440-441). The thoughts expressed by the Shem Mishmuel seem particularly pertinent to Yom Kippur.
Shem Mishmuel cites Moshe Rabbeinu’s final address to the B’nei Yisrael (Devarim, Perek 29, posukim 9-10):
You are all standing here today, before the Lord, your G’d — your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, every Jewish man. Your children, your women, the outsider who is in your camp, from your woodcutter to your water-drawer.
Shem Mishmuel then explains that:
These divisions of people represent the whole gamut of the nation, from young to old, the powerful and the ordinary — in short, everyone of every type.
He explains that the ketores (incense) was a component of the daily korbonot (offerings), but that on Yom Kippur it would play a primary role.
The Kohen Gadol took a shovel-full of incense into the Holy of Holies and waited there until the cloud of spices filled the room. This incense contained eleven spices, ten of which were pleasant-smelling, but one of which had a foul odor. We may suggest that the ten sweet-smelling spices corresponded to the ten groups within the Jewish people noted above…. Ketores… is etymologically linked to kesher, which means “connection.” The spices were pounded together to make a single compound. This illustrates that each group within Israel must recognize that it has value only as part of a larger entity.
When this occurs [the pounding and grinding together of all ten spices into a single compound – MB] , it is possible to add the eleventh, malodorous spice, which represents the bad elements within YIsrael. Only when these eleven spices are pounded into indistinguishable dust, that is completely mingled, can they be brought to the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur.
In the same way, only when everyone, good or bad, acts for a single purpose, nullifying his individuality to the benefit of the community, can the “compound” of the Jewish people be presented to G’d for His scrutiny… However, if dissonance exists within the various elements of the klal, then the weaker, eleventh group cannot join. Since there is already disharmony among the people, adding the sinful element will not produce a completely unified Yisrael and…. will cause additional strife, as the weaker group will join one side or the other of the rift, strengthening the divide.
…To achieve real unity in the community, and throughout Am Yisrael, a sort of “grinding” of the personality is needed. It is arrogance which leads to disunity, the feeling that one is special and in some way above everyone else. One must pound this arrogance out of one’s character to effect the realization that one’s whole existence depends on the community.
There is another citing which amplifies the above. Gemara Mesechta Megillah, page 25a1 (Shottenstein edition) cites Mishnah Perek 4, posuk 9:
One who says [about Hashem – MB]: “Good men shall bless You” — this is the way of heresy.
The footnote in the Gemara on this Mishnah reads:
For he does not include the wicked among those who praise G’d, and the Sages teach us (Kereisos 6b) that any public fast that does not include the transgressors of Israel is not accepted, They derive this from the inclusion of galbunim, which emits a foul odor, among the ingredients of the incense offered in the Beit HaMikdash. Similarly, the wicked must be considered as part of the congregation of Israel. (Attributions to Rashi; cf. Ran, Meiri)
And consider this profound citing written by Yehoshua Starrett, the translator and editor of the Sefer “To Heal the Soul” authored by the Aish Kodesh, the Rebbe Piazecna, R’ Kalonymus Kalman Shapira as a journal (pages xvii-xviii):
In Warsaw he was confronted with the Sabbath desecration epidemic of the 1920s by the irreligious Jewish socialists. In this too, Rebbe Kalonymous accomplished with his love and understanding what others were unable to do with their campaigning.
He used to say that in every single Jew, even the most belligerently antireligious, is a spark of Jewish soul that needs only to be reached, opened and ignited in the right way. Rebbe Kalonymous knew how to do this. After several meetings with him, these hard socialist leaders admitted their difficulty arguing with him…
Rebbe Kalonymous was indeed a most devoted leader, both in the spiritual and material sense. “A rebbe who is not willing to enter Gehinnom to save a follower is not a rebbe,” he used to say….
In other words, the Aish Kodesh too held that every Jew has that “spark of Jewish Soul,” The pintele Yid, that every Jew was integral in making up the total Ketores, the scent that rises to Shemayim.
Consider again the comments of the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, R’ Yehudah Zev Segal, z”l:
In essence, all Jews are one. Our souls are united and in each soul there is a portion of all the others. This concept is the basis of the principle “all Jews are responsible for one another (Shavuot 39a).” Since each Jewish soul possesses a portion of all the others, when a Jew sins, his wrong affects not only his own soul, but also the collective soul of Israel.
But, accepting that even though other sectors may not meet certain standards in the minds of some, and may represent to these — the galbanum, WE ARE, STILL AND ALL JEWS?. And we are one — a unity.
May we pour our hearts out to Hashem this Yom Kippur with purity, complete unity and deep sincerity leaving “nothing in the locker room” on a national level as well as locally and as individuals. May Hashem grant us a happy, healthy and sweet new year, a new year where a Jewish governance of national pride and self-image replaces the current shameful state of Israeli governance. As Rabbi Moshe Ungar would always say before a fast, back in Philly — back in the “old country”, “Daven hard, fast easy” — Tefillah Kasher V’Tzom Kal!
But as we daven, we need all keep in mind the the words of this golden
Private Eyes are watchin’ you… watchin’ you, watchin’ you, watchin’ you! Private Eyes!
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of two years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Daven Hard, Fast Easy! May You, All of My Brothers, Sisters, be Sealed, for another Year of Life… Now and Always!
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.