Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 10   No. 52

le'Shanah tovah
nikoseiv ve'neichoseim
le'alter u'le'chayim tovim

(Incorporating Yom Kipur)

Davar Be'Ito ...
Yom Kipur Thoughts

Choking by the Throat

The reason that we say Viduy before eating the Se'udah ha'Mafsekes on Erev Yom-Kipur is to preempt the Satan, who may try to pull a fast one on us, by 'choking us by the throat' during the Se'udah, before we have had a chance to recite the Viduy even once. So we beat him at his own game, pulling the carpet from under his feet by only sitting down to eat after having already confessed at Minchah.

The question arises however, why Chazal confined their concern to this particular area of danger? Why were they not concerned, for example, that a traveler on Erev Yom Kipur might come to grief on the journey, since all roads, Chazal have said, are established as being dangerous?

Perhaps we can explain this by referring to the Poskim's use of the term 'choke by the throat', the same expression as Chazal use in connection with Achitofel, who died in this way for not (initially) divulging the Halachah permitting the writing of G-d's Name, to save the world from flooding.

Maybe here too, choking by the throat, is symbolical of the most common of all sins, and the worst of them, too - Lashon ha'Ra. Maybe the Lashon ha'Ra we have spoken during the year has provoked G-d's anger to such an extent, that the Satan will do all in his power to prevent us from even beginning with the Teshuvah process (much in the same way as Hashem stopped Par'oh from doing Teshuvah once he reached the point of no return).

Travelling and other vaguely life-threatening occupations are no different than the rest of the year.


Now we Say it Loud,
Now we Don't

The Seifer Otzar ha'Yedi'os, observes that we say 'Baruch Sheim' aloud on Kol Nidrei night (even though we have only just eaten and are full), whereas on Motza'ei Yom Kipur, we say it quietly (in spite of the fact that we are still fasting). Citing his grandfather, he explains it with the Besht, who says that a person's identity is governed by his thoughts. On Kol Nidrei night, we have just begun to fast, and that is what we are thinking about, making us holy like angels. Whereas on Motza'ei Yom Kipur, it will not be long before we will be breaking our fast, and that is what currently fills our minds, transforming us once again into human-beings.

The basis of this is a Mishnah in Keilim, which considers all sea-creatures Tahor, except for a sea-dog, which is considered a land-creature and is therefore Tamei, because it longs for dry land.


I would prefer to believe however, that immediately after a day like Yom Kipur, most people's minds are occupied with thoughts of a less mundane nature than food. And I would therefore venture to resolve the above problem with the Din that a Ta'anis yachid (an individual fast) is only effective if one firmly undertakes to fast already at the previous Minchah. Without such an undertaking, Chazal have taught, the fast is worthless, because of the principle 'Eino domeh pas be'salo, le'mi she'ein lo pas be'salo', meaning that it is relatively easy to fast as long as one knows that he can eat (should he so wish). What is that much more difficult, is to fast in the knowledge that eating is prohibited.

Here as well, on Leil Kol Nidrei, when we are not permitted to eat, our 'inuy' (affliction) is genuine, and like angels, we are able to say 'Baruch Sheim' in a loud voice. On Motza'ei Yom Kipur, on the other hand, when eating is already permitted, it is a case of 'pas be'salo'. Our Inuy is no longer genuine, and we have come back to earth. Consequently, we recite 'Baruch Sheim' quietly, like the mere mortals that we are.


Man Plans, G-d Laughs

When Yonah caught a boat going to Tarshish, Chazal explain, he was trying to escape to Chutz la'Aretz, where, he assumed, he would be exempt from prophesy. With the exception of Yechezkel, we are told, all prophets received their prophesies in Eretz Yisrael exclusively; hence Yonah's assumption.

His wish to escape, they point out, was based, in turn, on his love of the Jewish people, for he was afraid that if the people of Ninveh would repent (as he was certain they would), the Satan would point an accusing finger at Yisrael, who, by nature more stubborn than the other nations, persisted in sinning; and who can tell how devastating that would have been for Yisrael!


Rabeinu Bachye adds that Yonah wanted to avoid being party to a Teshuvah process that would later cause his own people embarrassment.

What in fact, happened?

First of all a great miracle occurred, when, following Yonah's being thrown overboard, the storm abated and the boat was saved. The sailors and travellers witnessed a tremendous Kidush Hashem.

Eventually, Yonah did go to Ninveh, appeared before the king and warned him what would happen if he and the people did not repent. At that moment, a delegation from the boat that had been saved entered the king's palace, to relate their experiences before the king. Imagine how startled they must have been to find Yonah standing there! And when they asked him how he escaped from the stormy sea, imagine the awe that must have gripped, not only them, but the king too, when they heard his incredible tale!

It is safe to assume that the genuine Teshuvah of the people of Ninveh was due, in no small measure, to Yonah's experiences in the stomach of the whale, once word of his story spread.


Yonah tried to run away from Hashem to avoid being instrumental in Ninveh's Teshuvah. So Hashem engineered the events in such a way that not only would his attempt fail, but that his attempted escape would serve as the catalyst that would in fact, cause them to do Teshuvah.

Because as Chazal have said 'Man has many thoughts, but it is G-d's plan that will ultimately materialize!'


Motza'ei Yom Kipur

The Ta'amei Haminhagim quoting the Mateh Moshe, explains that we declare publicly 'Hashem Hu ho'Elokim' seven times because now, when we have attained a higher spiritual level, is the time to pray for the unification of G-d's Name and His Throne, as hinted in the word 'Hu' ('Hey', 'Vav' 'Alef', comprising the three letters that are missing from the words "Ki yad al Keis Koh" (see 'from the Haftarah', Parshas Shoftim).

That is why we say in 'Emes ve'yatziv' 'Hu kayom, u'Sh'mo kayom, ve'Chis'o Nochon ...'.

Presumably, the seven times that we say it correspond to the seven Heavens leading up to Hashem's Throne.

Presumably too, "Hashem" corresponds to 'His Name', and "Elokim", to 'His Throne'.


And in the name of the Levush, the Ta'amei Haminhagim adds that the three times that we announce "Baruch Sheim ... " correspond to 'Hashem Melech, Hashem Moloch, Hashem Yimloch le'olom vo'ed', which in turn correspond to 'Hoyoh, Hoveh ve'Yih'yeh (because G-d's existence spans present, past and future).


Parshah Pearls (Adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)

Riding High

"And he rode them on the high places of the land (al bomosei oretz)" (32:13).

The word "bomosei", points out the Ba'al ha'Turim, is written with an extra 'Vav', hinting at the six nations whose land they captured in battle. The seventh nation, the Girgashi, turned and fled.


Look Who Destroyed Us

"And I will be unfaithful to them with a non-nation, with a base nation I will evoke their anger" (32:21).

Based on a Pasuk in Yeshayah, Chazal depict the non-nation as the Babylonians, and based on a Pasuk in Ovadyah, the base nation as Edom (the Romans), the two nations that destroyed the two Batei-Mikdash.

The Ba'al ha'Turim therefore points out that the numerical value of "lo am" (a non-nation) is 'eilu Bavliyim' (these are the Babylonians), whereas the first letters of 'be'Goy novol ach'isem" (with a base nation I will evoke their anger) add up to 'be'Edom' (with Edom).


The Four Nations

"Because fire burned in My nostrils ... " (32:22).

This Pasuk contains four expressions of anger "Kodchoh", "va'tikad", "va'tochal", va'telaheit", hinting at the four nations that subjugated us in the course of our history - Bavel, Madai (the Medes), Yavan (the Greeks) and Edom.


The Five Evils

"Weak with hunger, embattled by Reshef, Ketev and Meriri (three kinds of demons), and I will also set upon them the teeth of animals and the poison of those who crawl in the dust (snakes)" 32:24.

Five things, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, corresponding to the five Books of the Torah that they contravened, the five immoral acts listed by Hoshei'a, the five abominations that Yechezkel saw, and corresponding to Ba'al, the sun, the moon, the Mazalos and all the hosts of the heaven (the stars), all of which they constantly worshipped.

Perhaps this also explains the need for the five Tefilos on Yom Kipur.


Saved by Moshe

"Ashbisah me'enosh zichrom ... Lulei ... (I would destroy their memory from mankind ... were it not ... )" (32:26).

The last letters of "Ashbisah me'enosh zichrom" spell Moshe, and the next word is "lulei" (were it not). This hints at the Pasuk in Tehilim (106:23) "And He said that He would destroy them, had Moshe His chosen one not (lulei) stood in the breach.

The Ba'al ha'Turim explains that if not for Moshe Rabeinu, who Davened for us on a number of occasions and was moser nefesh for us, we would not be here today.


G-d is Always with Us

"See now that I am He (Ani Hu), and there is no god with Me ... " (32:39).

The word "Ani" appears three times in this Pasuk, and "va'Ani" with a 'Vav', once.

This hints at the three exiles, and the fourth, where it is written "va'Ani be'soch ha'golah", a gentle reminder that G-d is always with us, even when we are in Galus (Ba'al ha'Turim).


The Ball's In Our Court

"ve'ein mi'Yadi matzil (and no-one can save from My Hand)" (ibid.). The word "mi'Yadi", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, has the same numerical value as 'Din'. This should serve as a warning, he says, not to rely on anybody else to save us from Divine judgement.

Chazal have taught us though, that 'Teshuvah, Tefilah and Tzedakah' remove the evil decree. So the ball, it seems, is in our court.


Splitting the Heavens

"See now that I am He (ki Ani Ani Hu), and that there is no god with Me" (ibid.).

What does all this have to with the previous Pesukim (which speak about the nations' mocking of K'lal Yisrael) asks the G'ro? And besides, what are the connotations of the word 'now', and why does the Pasuk repeat "Ani"?

The G'ro cites the Megaleh Amukos, who explains that there are nine hundred and fifty-five heavens. Each heaven contains miriads of angels, he says, except for the last fifty-five, where no angel is permitted entry, and where Hashem reigns Supreme. And this is hinted, he says, in the Pasuk "Hein la'Hashem Elokechem ha'Shamayim ... " (the numerical value of "Hein" is fifty-five).

Moshe Rabeinu, says the Megaleh Amukos, split the heavens. And with what did he split them? With the nine hundred and fifty-five Pesukim of Seifer Devarim.

Now from the beginning of Seifer Devarim until the current Pasuk, there are nine hundred Pesukim. It therefore transpires that until Moshe reached this Pasuk, he saw all the heavens including the angels that filled them.

Now that he was about to begin this Pasuk, the first of the last fifty-five Pesukim, he was on the verge of seeing the last fifty-five heavens, which are devoid of any angelic bodies.

Hence, Hashem declared "See now (for the first time) that I am He (all on My own) ... ."


G-d's Sixteen-bladed Sword

"And My sword consumes flesh" (32:43).

The word "ve'charbi (My sword)", the Ba'al ha'Turim observes, can be rewritten as 'cherev 'Yud-Vav', referring to G-d's sixteen-bladed sword, described by the Medrash.

This explains why the Pasuk in Bechukosai (26:25) refers to " cherev nokemes n'kam b'ris (the sword avenging the vengeance of the covenant)", referring to the sixteen covenants that G-d made on each Mitzvah (see also main article, Parshas Ki Savo, column 2). And that is why the word "Cherev" occurs sixteen times in the Parshah of 'yordei bor' (in Yechezkel).


(Adapted from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch with notes from the Mishnah B'rurah - M.B.)

1. Havdalah

Havdalah comprises the B'rachah over the cup of wine, (omitting the P'sukim"Hinei Keil yesho'osi ... " which one recites on a regular Motza'ei Shabbos), 'borei me'orei ha'eish' and 'Hamavdil'.


2. Ner

For Havdalah on Motza'ei Yom-Kipur, one uses specifically a light which 'rested' (i.e. which burned through Yom-Kipur), and not one which has just been produced. The best thing is to take a light from the light which was lit before Yom Kipur, and to recite the B'rachah over both together. However in case of emergency, one may even use a light that was kindled by a gentile, or a light that one just lit (though according to the Mishnah B'rurah, a B'rachah is not recited over either of these).


3. Eat, Drink and be Happy

One is obligated to eat, drink and be happy on Motza'ei Yom Kipur, for as the Medrash says 'on Motza'ei Yom-Kipur a heavenly voice proclaims "Go and eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine in good spririts, for G-d has already accepted your deeds" '.


4. To Begin Building the Sukah

Those who are meticulous in their performing of Mitzvos, begin to build the Sucah immediately on Motza'ei Yom-Kipur, in accordance with the maxim 'they go from strength to strength'. One should at least, designate and clear the place where the Sukah is going to be built.

One wishes one another 'good Yom-tov', 'pisga tava' (or 'a gutte k'vittel') and a 'G'mar chasimah Tovah'.


5. The Intervening days

The day after Yom-Kipur one Davens a little earlier than usual. During the days between Yom-Kipur and Sukos, one may not fast, even on a Yohrzeit, nor does one say 'Tachanun'. The reason for this is because a. in the time of the first Beis-Hamikdash, Shlomoh Hamelech consecrated the Mizbei'ach during these days, and b. because everybody is busy with the Mitzvos of building a Sucah and purchasing the Lulav and Esrog in honour of Hashem. This time is conducive to Simchah, and Simchah is the antithesis of fasting and Tachanun.


6. Accumulating Merits

Out of pity on us, G-d, who wanted to give us the opportunity of accumulating merits, gave us many Mitzvos to perform, in order to perfect our souls by the time Hosha'ana Rabah (the final day of judgement) arrives.

Everyone has good reason to be apprehensive that his judgement has not yet been concluded, and is in fact, still hanging in the balance. So one should make a point of giving a lot of Tzedakah, and of doing a lot of justice and kindness during this period, to ensure that The Divine verdict for the forthcoming year is a favorable one, and that one is written and sealed for a good life in the forthcoming year. And one should proceed to pursue the Mitzvos with love and affection, with all one's heart and with all one's soul, because the joy of fulfilling a Mitzvah is what causes their fulfilment (Lechem ha'Panim).


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