Parshat Acharei Mos 5784: Teshuvah, 7 October, and Mandate for Confession AND Repentance by Governing Leaders and Military High Command?

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Acharei Mos is dedicated Lilui Nishmas for My Mother: Chaya bat Zalman who was niferet on 22 Nissan 5775 and dedicated for the safety of the Chayalim and the liberation of all hostages: that they are brought home whole physically, mentally and spiritually, and for the good health and security of kol Am Yisrael. .

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 be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Acharei Mos 5784: Teshuvah, 7 October, and Mandate for Confession AND Repentance by Governing Leaders and Military High Command?

by Moshe Burt

In beginning this vort on Parshat Acharei Mos, this author provides excerpts from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s sefer, “Unlocking the Torah Text,” Sefer Vayikra, on our Parsha (pages 125 – 127):

What follows is a brief introduction to the Rambam’s thoughts surrounding the Se’ir Hamishtaleich, “the sent goat” …. culled both from “On Repentance: The Thought and Oral Discourses of Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveichik”…, as well as my own (meaning Rabbi Goldin’s) personal recollections. [Note: the sources Rabbi Goldin cites here, seem to this author to be either sources cited by The Rav, or Rabbi Goldin’s independent sources]

….The Rambam opens his review of the laws of Teshuvah with the following Halacha:

With regard to all of the precepts in the Torah, whether positive commandments or negative ones, if a person transgresses one of them, either willingly or unknowingly, when he does teshuvah and returns from his sin, it is his duty to confess before Hashem, Blessed be He… and this confession is an affirmative precept [Rabbi Goldin’s italics] (Rabbi Goldin citing Rambam, Mishne Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah 1:1)

Numerous sources within the Torah… plainly define Teshuvah as a Mitzvah. (Rabbi Goldin citing Sefer Devarim, Perek 4, posuk 30, Perek 30, posukim 1 – 3) …The Rambam’s own language on a number of occasions supports this view. (Rabbi Goldin citing Rambam, Mishne Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah 2:7, 7:5) …The very heading of the section in his Mishne Torah that summarizes the laws of Teshuvah reads: “The Laws of Return: One positive precept — that the sinner shall repent of his sin before the Lord and confess.” (ibid)

Clearly, the Rambam views Repentance — and not confession [viduy] alone — as a Mitzvah.

Whenever the Rambam deals with a Mitzvah whose performance is marked by external deed but whose fulfillment can only take place within the heart, he distinguishes between the two aspects of the Mitzvah in his codification of the law. In describing the laws themselves, the Rambam details only the actual performance, the concrete act associated with the Mitzvah. In his section headings, however, he defines the Mitzvah in its entirety, citing both physical performance and internal fulfillment.

Bringing the discussion of viduy and heartfelt teshuvah down to a simpler understanding, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his Sefer, “Growth Through Torah,” cites a posuk from our Parsha and provides commentary (pages 269 – 270):

“For on this day you shall receive atonement to purify you for all of your transgressions, before the Almighty You shall be purified.” (Rabbi Pliskin citing Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posuk 30)

Be careful not to wrong others to avoid needing their forgiveness.

The sages (Rabbi Pliskin citing Yoma 85b) comment on this that Yom Kippur [viduy] atones for transgressions between man and the Almighty. But, as regards transgressions between man and man, Yom Kippur can only atone if a person first attains the forgiveness of those who he has offended or harmed.

From this principle we see the importance of being careful not to cause other people harm, either financial, physical, or emotional. While it is proper to forgive those who ask for our forgiveness, not everyone is sincerely ready to forgive others. ….If you have harmed [such a person] you will still not be forgiven without his forgiveness. The best way to ensure that you will be forgiven is to be especially careful in advance not to cause pain or suffering to others. Our main reason for not hurting others should be out of compassion and caring. But, at least we should be careful not to harm others out of our own self-interest.

The Artscoll Stone Edition Chumash adds on Sefer Vayikra, Perek 16, posuk 30;

“For on this day he [i.e. the Kohen Godol] shall provide atonement.” The affliction and cessation of labor mentioned in the previous posuk [posuk 29] combine with the service of the Kohen Godol to achieve atonement. The day’s sacrificial service can serve only to ameliorate one’s sins and make Hashem receptive to one’s personal repentance. Then it is up to the sinner to improve himself and become worthy of Hashem’s forgiveness. Only through personal repentance and self-cleansing can a person “be cleansed of all his sins before Hashem.” (The Artscoll Stone Edition Chumash, page 644, citing Sforno)

Israel’s governing leaders, politcos and top military leaders and command have much to atone for concerning the catastrophic fiasco that was 7 October, and events since: The failure of military high command to heed warnings far in advance of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iranian and Yemenite preparations for war against us which occurred on 7 October and in fact, arrogantly threatening and intimidating their subordinates who were issuing the warnings. Arrogance and equivocation on the government’s part in repeatedly entering negotiations for ceasefires which encompass supplies to Gaza which end up in Hamas hands rather than in Gazan civilian hands, and negotiating for “return” of a hand full of hostages in exchange for hundreds or thousands of bloody-handed terrorists incarcerated in Israel’s prisons and a ceasefire which, if it were to come to pass, would leave Hamas alive and ready to replicate (verb: to repeat, duplicate, or reproduce) 7 October, rather than going all out to totally win this war, eradicate Sinwar, his superiors and LIBERATE all remaining hostages by the hands of our Chayalim by the Yad Hashem. All of these sins has led to the lessening of the world’s perception of Israel’s credibility and and level of military prowess and deterrence. The sins of Israel’s political, governmental and top military leadership have put the security of the nation of Israel and Jews worldwide in peril.

May Israel’s governing leaders, politcos and top military leaders and command express their confession to HaKadosh Borchu, hopefully do Heartfelt Repentance and Atonement for their sins before Hashem and, hopefully humble themselves in Total, Complete and Permanent Teshuvah in appealing for forgiveness to their fellow Jews in Israel, and throughout world Jewry for their egregious [adjective: extraordinary in some bad way; glaring; flagrant] sins which brought about the catastrophic events of 7 October, never to be repeated.

May it be that our Chayalim emerge totally victorious — eradicating Hamas, their terrorist buddies and the so-called “innocent civilians” of Gaza who joined with Hamas in their murderous deeds, and that the Chayalim return home whole — physically, mentally and spiritually and that the Chayalim Liberate and bring home all remaining hostages. And may we see the restoration of true unity within Am Yisrael.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently re-settled in Gush Katif, once the IDF, by the Yad Hashem, destructs and eradicates the wild beasts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, all other terror entities, and if necessary Iran, and that our brethren be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, as well as the buildings of Yishuv Elchanan, all at total government expense. May our Chayalim return from battle unharmed — physically, mentally and spiritually and may all of the hostages brutally taken by the wild beasts of Hamas be liberated and brought home to their families. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his fourth year at home in Eretz Yisrael and continues in a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. 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 nine 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. May we see, in 5784, the REAL Jews from the Ukraine and Russia as well as the US and Canada, the real Jews via matrilineal descent, make Aliyah enmass — via thorough review by Misrad HaPanim. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese Wuhan Lab corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. 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!!!

Good Shabbos!
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.