Our Yom Kippur vort is being sponsored by Yossie and Elisheva Schulman of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated l’zecher nishmas Elisheva’s Grandmother Zemira bas Yehuda Leib. 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 multitudes 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.
During the Chazzan’s repetition of the Mussaf Tefillah of Yom Kippur, after Aleinu, next in the order of tefillah is recitation of the day’s Avodah by the Kohen Godol — The Order of Service in the Beit HaMikdash.
Following the recitation of the Order of Service, provided that the Kohen Godol’s service was performed perfectly, he would emerge from the Holy of Holies – the Kadosh Kedoshim unharmed and make a celebration.
The order for the repetition in the Artscroll Ashkenaz Yom Kippur Machzor follows the emergence of the Kohen Godol with a tefillah (page 571):
“The [Kohen Godol] would make a holiday for all his loved ones when he entered [the Kadosh Kedoshim] in peace and left in peace, without injury. And… the Kohen Godol [recites a] prayer on the Day of Atonement when he left the Kadosh Kedoshim in peace, without injury.”
A note in the Artscroll Machsor (ibid, page 570) states:
…The Kohen Godol who emerged unharmed from the Holy of Holies had ample reason to celebrate. Indeed, Rabban Gamliel taught that Yom Kippur was one of the most festive days of the year. (The Yom Kippur Machsor cites Taanit 4:8)
A great song, an alphabetic piyut by an unknown author, is sung expressing awe at the the appearance of the Kohen Godol.
The Artscroll Machsor notes that the song compares the Kohen Godol to various spiritual and material phenomena. (ibid, page 571)
Following the piyut, the Kehillah recites a posuk indicating that all of the above occurred when we had the Beit HaMikdash, the Kadosh Kedoshim and when the Kohen Godol performed his Avodah, as “his generation watched and rejoiced.” (ibid, page 573) How fortunate was the eye that saw these phenomena.
There follows a piyut which contrasts those who lived in those generations, who were there and witnessed these phenomena, with the distress of the souls of those of us through the generations of the dispersion until today who only hear of what the generations of Kohen Godol serving in the Beit HaMikdash had seen.
At the conclusion of this latter piyut, the Artscroll Machsor (ibid, page 574) notes:
Having finished the piyutim that contrast the glory of old with the degradation of today, we now acknowledge that it was our sins that cause this loss. Nevertheless, we declare that Hashem in His Mercy gave us Yom Kippur as a time when we can arouse His Mercy. We conclude by pleading with Hashem to recognize [should this really read “and recognize?”]… we have no one but Him to which we can turn. This paragraph [as it appears in the Machzor] is thought to be a fragment of a longer composition by the famous paytan R’ Shlomo ibn Gabirol of eleventh-century Spain.
Also following the latter piyut, the Chazzan’s repetition of Mussaf proceeds to enunciate the horrors and persecutions suffered by the Jews, both leading to our eventual dispersion and after, as well as to the heinous desecrations of Torah and torture and murder of generations of our greatest Chachamim and Tzaddikim.
An Artscroll Stone Chumash commentary on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posukim 1-3 (page 636) deals with the connection between the death of the righteous and Yom Kippur and notes:
Why is the death of the righteous [i.e., Nadav and Avihu] mentioned in conjunction with the chapter on the Yom Kippur service? Because just as Yom Kippur brings atonement, so the death of the righteous brings atonement (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Yerushalmi Yoma 1:1). Meshech Chochmah explains that Yom Kippur is a time of favor, and is thus an opportune time for atonement. When a righteous person such as Nadav or Avihu dies and his soul ascends to the world of souls, the other righteous souls in Shemayim rejoice at his coming. The good feeling above can inspire a feeling of forgiveness and atonement to the righteous person’s survivors on earth. This is the connection to Yom Kippur.
However, and this is crucial, both Yom Kippur and the death of the righteous bring atonement only on one condition. Yom Kippur atones only for people who recognize it as a holy day and treat it as such; those to whom it is merely a day of refraining from food and work, but without a spiritual dimension, do not find atonement on Yom Kippur. Similarly, those who don’t honor the righteous in life do not benefit from their ascent [of the righteous] to Shemayim in death.
This author returns to Rabbi Goldin and his Sefer, “Unlocking the Torah Text,” Sefer Devarim, Parshat Vayeilech where he notes that Hashem relates to Moshe horrendous news of the future (pages 328-329), and provides a rendering to English of Perek 31, posukim 16-19 with questions and commentary:
Moshe is about to die; the fulfillment of… [his] dreams will now rest with the nation. Hashem summons him for one final message… [which] is nothing less than devastating. Hashem informs Moshe that the nation is destined to sin grievously and to be terribly punished:
“Behold, you will lie with your fathers, and this nation will rise and sin after the foreign gods of the land into whose midst they will come; and they will forsake Me and annul the covenant that I have established with them.”
“And My anger will be kindled against them on that day and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them and they will be as prey, and many evils and troubles will come upon them. And they will say on that day: ‘Is it not because my G’d is not in my midst that these evils have come upon me?'”
“And I will certainly hide My face on that day, on account of all of the evil that they will have done, in that they turned to other gods.”
“And it will be, when many evils and distresses come upon them, then this song [Hashem seeming to refer to Ha’azinu] shall testify before them as a witness, for it shall not be forgotten from the mouth of their offspring…”
Is this information [that the nation is destined to sin grievously and to be terribly punished] truly necessary? The Torah has spoken before, in great depth, specifically in the Tochachot, of the potentiality of grave sin on the part of the nation and of the inevitable consequences of that sin. Now, however, on the eve of Moshe’s passing, Hashem speaks not of potentialities but of certainties… Is it necessary to to inform Moshe of these facts, specifically now? The only consolation available to Moshe… [prior to] this sad moment might emerge from a belief in the nation’s success after he’s gone. Now, it would seem, even that comfort is denied him.
One might argue, as it appears from the text, that Hashem shares this information with Moshe so that… [he] can personally prepare the nation for the predicted challenges and calamities. Hashem thus commands Moshe to record, teach and “place in the peoples’ mouth” Shirat Ha’azinu, the song recorded in the next parsha.
…[One] could counter, however…., Hashem could have commanded Moshe to prepare the nation for the potential backsliding. The future could have been shared, as in earlier passages of text, as a possibility, rather than as a certainty.
What, then, is Hashem’s purpose in imparting this definitive, devastating vision of the future to Moshe, particularly at this sensitive moment?
Torah Gems, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg (page 314) may provide answers to the above questions in citing a Mikra MeForash which notes;
Torah refers to… “rising up” [Sefer Devarim, Perek 31, posuk 16], when it would seem more proper to use a verb such as “to descend.” Rather, what this teaches us is that the people will rise up. They, rather than their leaders, will be the rulers, and that will result in their falling to the lowest depths.
The “people”, rather than their [Torah] leaders, will be the rulers resulting in the nation’s fall to the depths?
Then Torah states (Sefer Devarim, Perek 31, posuk 17);
“Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles will befall them…”
So, this author would conclude that the enunciation during Mussaf of Yom Kippur of the horrors and persecutions suffered by the Jews, both before our eventual dispersion and after, as well as to the heinous desecrations of Torah and torture and murder of generations of our greatest Chachamim and Tzaddikim can well be the result of the actions over time by the people, i.e. the collective “nation.”
Once again, this author returns to the Artscroll Stone Chumash commentary on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posukim 1-3 (page 636)
Yom Kippur atones only for people who recognize it as a holy day and treat it as such; those to whom it is merely a day of refraining from food and work, but without a spiritual dimension, do not find atonement on Yom Kippur. Similarly, those who don’t honor the righteous in life do not benefit from their ascent [of the righteous] to Shemayim in death.
One cannot emphasize strongly enough how crucial the above paragraph is.
Watching events play out over the past year and a half, and possibly the evolution of events which culminated in events over the past year and a half, both here in Israel and in the United States, one cannot help but wonder about the spiritual dimension and lack of honor for the righteous openly displayed by many of our fellow Jews, among them being governing leaders, officials, politicians and media.
Here in Israel, where all the members of the current patchwork, slap-dash, stolen so-called coalition “government” are at each other’s necks, where the various sectors hurl invective at the previous Prime Minister over highly questionable legal cases, where they declare “holy war” on the religious — be they Chareidim, Religious Zionists, etc. and where parts of the Land of Israel are totally disrespected, one cannot help but wonder, about the spiritual dimension resulting in lack of honor for the righteous.
One must wonder; how meaningful will their “fasts” and “Al Chets” be, or if many of them even bother?
We, who make great efforts at spirituality and righteousness, need to double our own efforts in these directions in these trying times, while maintaining our own self-respect for who and what we are while Hashem takes care of the rest.
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 and that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he and his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha are finally home in Eretz Yisrael. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of seven 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 prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei 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!!!
May You, All of My Brothers and Sisters, be Inscribed and Sealed for another Year of Life… Now and always! And may our hopes and prayers, are realized. L’Shana Tova!
As a Rav back in the Old Country would say, “Tefillah Kasher V’Tzom Kal — Daven Hard, Fast Easy!”
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.