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

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Vol. 11   No. 50

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Wishing our readers
sh'nas b'rochoh ve'hatzlochoh
and all of Yisrael
sh'nas, sholom, ge'ulah vi'yeshu'ah

Yom Kippur


Rashi explains that the Pasuk in Nitzavim "The hidden things belong to Hashem ... whereas the revealed things are up to us ...", refers to the responsibility of one Jew for another, that if one Jew sins, then all Jews must bear part of the blame. And this is the interpretation that most commentaries adopt.

The Ramban however, prefers the explanation that the Pasuk refers to the sins that one committed inadvertently (incorporating sins of which one is literally unaware and those that one committed be'Shogeg), and not in connection with the sins of others. And he cites Targum Unklus, who seems to interpret the Pasuk that way too.


Interestingly, the Ramban puts Shogeg on a par with sins of which the perpetrator is unaware, even though their definition differs. For the term Shogeg refers, not to sins that one committed inadvertently (by accident, as people often tend to translate it), but to sinful acts that one commits intentionally, without realizing the seriousness of the deed, or even that they are forbidden. Perhaps the basis of the Ramban's assumption lies in the Pasuk in Tehilim (19:13) where the Pasuk juxtaposes the two, when it writes "Who knows the mistakes; cleanse me from the hidden things.


Ha'Rav Chaval, in his notes on the Ramban, suggests that the author of the Tefilah that we recite at the end of the Yom Kippur Amidah also understood the Pasuk like this. We say there (with reference to our own individual sins) 'the sins of which we are aware we have already listed them before you and confessed to having committed them, whereas those of which we are not aware, are in any case revealed before You, as it is written "The hidden sins belong to Hashem our G-d, whereas the revealed sins are up to us ...".


If the Torah does punish for a Shogeg, it is only for the more severe sins, such as Chayvei Kareis and Chilul Hashem. But generally speaking, there is no official punishment for someone who transgresses a Mitzvas Asei or a Lo Sa'aseh be'Shogeg. This does not however mean that a Shogeg transgression does not require Teshuvah. Bear in mind, that the Ramban merely precludes Shogeg from punishment, as we explained. Indeed, the Viduy (confession) that we recite so many times on Yom Kipur, clearly indicates in many places that Viduy (which the Rambam considers the essence of Teshuvah) is required for Shogeg no less than it is for Meizid.

Perhaps one can even go as far as to say that Shogeg is exempt from punishment only because he has confessed to G-d that he sinned. Like Mitzvos Asei, it is Teshuvah that wipes the slate clean. And it stands to reason that without Teshuvah, there can be no forgiveness, in the same way as one would not expect the person on whose toe one trod to forgive unless one at least said 'Sorry', even if the act was performed one hundred per cent unintentionally.

But in any event, a transgression be'Shogeg is the forerunner of a transgression be'Meizid (see Parshah Pearls, Parshas Masei, 'When Murder is Rampant'). And the only way of removing the callousness in which that danger is rooted is by driving home the seriousness of the sin (even be'Shogeg), through confession with a broken heart and pleading with G-d for forgiveness. It is the only way of ensuring that one sin does not lead to another, and that one's slate will indeed be wiped clean.

* * *


Running away from G-d!

Yonah ben Amitai, from the tribe of Zevulun, was the son of the Tzorfati widow, whom Eliyahu ha'Navi brought back to life and who later became his Talmid. It was on a visit to the Beis-Hamikdash on Yom-Tov (which he used to frequent three times a year [in spite of Yerav'am's border guards] together with his wife), that he attained a level of Simchah which resulted in Ru'ach ha'Kodesh. That was when Eliyahu anointed him as a Navi.


For the Love of Yisrael

Yonah tried to 'run away from G-d' (not because he was so foolish as to believe that G-d is not everywhere Chalilah, but) because he knew that there is no prophecy outside of Eretz Yisrael (since the Shechinah is not revealed there), and Tarshish (his destination) was far from Eretz Yisrael. Therefore, he hoped, G-d would not compel him to go to Ninveh, to warn the inhabitants of Ninveh to do Teshuvah.

And the reason that he tried to avoid going on that mission was because he knew that gentiles are more easy- going than Yisrael. Today they will sin, tomorrow they will do Teshuvah, and the day after they will revert to their former ways (which in fact, the people of Ninvei would later do). Yisrael, on the other hand, are (for better or for worse) a 'stiff-necked people'. When they repent, it is sincere - but until they do! Consequently, in the short term, the Teshuvah of the people of Ninvei would cause a Kitrug (level an accusation) against K'lal Yisrael, who would not take their cue from them and follow suit.

And Yonah's love for K'lal Yisrael was boundless.

Yonah's actions can be compared to the slave of a Kohen, who thought that he could escape from his master by fleeing to a graveyard, where, he knew, his master could not follow.

His master however, remained unperturbed, for if he could not enter the graveyard, he had other slaves, who could. And it was they whom he sent to bring his errant slave back.

And that is precisely how G-d reacted to Yonah's attempts to escape Him. Yonah was fleeing from G-d via the sea. But had the sea not fled before G-d (refer to the second paragraph of Hallel)? To be sure, the very sea via which he was fleeing, would act as G-d's messenger to deter him from fulfilling his own plan, and force him to fulfill G-d's plan instead.


The Wealthy Prophets

Rebbi Yochanan states that all the Nevi'im were wealthy, and he cites as examples Moshe, Shmuel, Amos and Yonah. His proof from Yonah is from the fact that he paid, not only his passage on the ship, but for the whole ship - which cost the staggering sum of four thousand golden Dinrim.


Self-Sacrifice for the Sake of Yisrael

Yonah fled with the express intention of sacrificing his life, says Rebbi Nasan. That is why he readily instructed the sailors to 'pick him up and cast him into the sea'. And so you will find, that the Avos and the Nevi'im were willing to sacrifice their lives on behalf of K'lal Yisrael.


Righteous Gentiles

The sailors and passengers were decent people, according to the Mechilta's description of what took place on board when the storm struck. They had not the least intention of throwing Yonah overboard before drawing lots, which fell on Yonah. Even then, they first began throwing cargo and heavy vessels into the sea. When that did not help, they took Yonah and placed him at the side of the ship. After praying to G-d not to punish them for spilling innocent blood (for they knew nothing of Yonah's life and past deeds), they took him and dipped him into the sea up to his knees, at which point the storm abated, only to continue raging the moment they pulled him back. One more time they repeated this tactic, only this time, they placed him into the sea as far as his navel. And it was only when the sea once again continued to thresh violently once they retrieved him from the water, that they finally threw him into the sea, lock, stock and barrel.

One cannot help but contrast the people then to the people of today, who hold human life in general, and Jewish life in particular, in utter contempt. And in the same way, to contrast true Jewish leaders, whom we cited in the previous Pearl, all of whom were ready to sacrifice their lives for K'lal Yisrael, to false ones, who are willing to sacrifice countless Jewish lives to save (not their own lives, but) their parliamentary seats.


To Daven, by Hook or by Crook

Three days and three nights, says the Yalkut, Yonah sat inside the bowels of the spacious male whale, without praying to G-d who 'desires the prayers of Tzadikim'. So He decided to teach Yonah a lesson. He had specifically arranged for a male whale, with its spacious belly, to give Yonah space and comfort. But He now sent a female whale, which was pregnant with 365,000,000 babies. Then the male whale spat him out and the female whale swallowed him. It did not take Yonah long, sitting in the filthy, cramped stomach of the female whale, before he began to Daven fervently.



Twice G-d spoke with Yonah, but not a third time. There is a dispute in the Gemara Yevamos (98a) as to what this means. In any event, the Mechilta attributes it to the fact that Yonah showed concern for the honour of Yisrael (by running away), but not for the honour of G-d (who gives everyone a chance to do Teshuvah [Zeh Yenachameinu]).


Now That's Real Teshuvah!

The Gemara in Ta'anis (16a) relates that so powerful was the Teshuvah of the people of Ninveh, that those who had stolen beams of wood and built it into their houses, dismantled them, in order to return the stolen beams.


Deeds Not Words

And it is from the story of Ninveh that the same Gemara learns that changing one's deeds changes one's evil decree. Because the Pasuk does not write 'And G-d saw their sack-cloth and ashes', but "And G-d saw their deeds, and He retracted from all the evil that He had said He would do to them".


Yonah and the Kikayon-Tree

When G-d destroyed the protective Kikayon-tree, and the sun began to beat down on Yonah's head, and flies and gnats began pestering him from all directions, he was so distraught, that he begged Hashem to take his life.

And when G-d responded by pointing out to him that if he was so full of pity on a tree which he had neither planted, nor fertilized, nor watered, then why should He (G-d) not take pity on the great city Ninveh. At that point, Yonah conceded that G-d was right, and said 'Guide Your world with mercy', as the Pasuk writes "Mercy and forgiveness belong to Hashem our G-d".


Those Righteous Gentiles Again

When the sailors saw the wonders that Hakadosh Baruch Hu had performed with Yonah, they stood up and threw their idols into the sea, returned to Yafo and made their way to Yerushalayim, circumcised and converted, after they had each taken an oath that he would bring his wife too, to worship the G-d of Yonah. And they kept their word.

How did they know what happened to Yonah?

I once saw that they somehow landed in Ninveh, and were describing their adventures to the king, and how they had cast Yonah into the sea, when who should walk in ... if not Yonah himself ... !

* * *

(from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)

The official reason for not reciting Viduy on Rosh Hashanah is because it is the day which we crown Hashem as King, and such an auspicious occasion is not the time to cry over one's confessions.

The Ta'amei ha'Minhagim offers another suggestion, based on the Gemara in Yuma (20a) which states that the Satan accuses us three hundred and sixty-four days a year (like the numerical value of his name - 'ha'Satan') and the only day in the year that he is not permitted to do so is Yom Kipur. Consequently, on Rosh Hashanah, we are afraid that if we were supposed to recite Viduy, the Satan would preempt our efforts (much in the same way as the commentaries explain with regard to the Viduy that we recite on Erev Yom Kipur before the Se'udah ha'Mafsekes), and cause us grievous bodily harm, or worse. So we wait until Yom Kipur, when he is unable to accuse us, to recite Viduy unimpeded.

And this explains why the Arizal permitted thinking Viduy, between the Sedarim of Teki'as Shofar on Rosh Hashanah, because at that time, the Satan is not empowered to accuse us, just like on Yom Kipur.


In one of the Piyutim we refer to the binding of the Satan on the tenth (of Tishri). Now as we know, the power of the Satan lies in his mouth, so what is to be gained by tying him up?

Chazal have said however, that the Angels' feet resemble those of calves, and in order not to remind G-d of the sin of the Golden Calf, they cover them with two of their six wings. Now on Yom Kipur, when the Satan is forbidden to do his regular job (accusing K'lal Yisrael), and prosecute them with his mouth, he is inclined to do the next best thing - uncover his feet to remind G-d of Yisrael's great sin. Therefore the Paytan informs us that the Satan's feet are bound, and he is therefore prevented from demonstrating Yisrael's sins.

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Mitzvah 185:
The Avodah on Yom Kippur

It is a Mitzvah incumbent on the Kohen Gadol to perform the entire Avodah on Yom Kippur, with regard to the order of the Korbanos, the confessions, the sending away of the 'Sa'ir ha'Mishtalei'ach' and the the remainder of the Avodah, as the Pasuk writes in Acharei-Mos (16:1) "With this Aharon shall come to the Kodesh ... ".

A reason for the Mitzvah - that it is a Chesed of Hashem to fix one day each year to atone for our sins, in conjunction with the Teshuvah that we perform. Because if He were to wait for our sins to accumulate, then after two, three or perhaps more years, their measure would be full, and the world would need to be destroyed. And it is in His great mercy that He fixed this one day annually to avert such a calamity from occurring.

In fact, he designated Yom Kippur to that end from the beginning of the creation, and sanctified it for that purpose. That being the case, the day itself became holy, and actually plays a role in the Teshuvah process, for Chazal in a number of places have said that Yom Kippur has the power to atone for 'less serious sins' (i.e. Mitzvos Asei).

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah ... Chazal have said that one must bring the Tamid shel Shachar and the Tamid shel Bein ha'Arbayim like one does each day, and the Musaf of the day, a bull, a ram and seven lambs, all of them Olos together with a goat for a Chatas (which is brought 'outside' (in the Azarah) and eaten by the Kohanim on the following night). In addition, one has to bring a bull for a Chatas (which is burnt), a ram for an Olah, both belonging to the Kohen Gadol, a ram that is bought with communal funds (which is the same ram that is mentioned in 'Pinchas'), and that is known as 'the ram of the people'. Furthermore one purchases out of communal funds two goats, one that is brought as a Chatas and that is burned, whilst the other is the Sa'ir ha'Mishtalei'ach, that is sent away. It therefore transpires that, apart from the latter goat (which is not sacrificed), the total number of animals that one brings on Yom Kippur is fifteen; two Temidin, one bull, two rams and seven lambs (all of them Olos); two goats as Chata'os (one that is brought outside and that is eaten in the evening), and one that is brought inside (in the Heichal), and that is burned; and another bull as a Chatas. All of these (as well as the Korban of Shabbos, in the event that Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos) must be brought by the Kohen Gadol, irrespective of whether he was anointed with the anointing oil or whether he was only inaugurated by wearing the eight garments. And the same applies to all the other Avodos of the day, such as the daily Ketores and the kindling of the Menorah ... The Kohen Gadol also had to be married, as the Torah writes here (Pasuk 11) "and he shall atone for himself and his house" (meaning his wife) ... As for the remaining Avodos, the changing of clothes from the four white garments to the eight golden ones and vice-versa, the details of the five Tevilos that he had to perform with each change and the ten times that he had to wash his hands and feet from the Kiyor, the seven days prior to Yom Kippur that they separated him from his family and the Kavod that they afforded him, and the various confessions that he had to make, are all explained in Maseches Yuma and in the Rambam, Hilchos Avodas Yom ha'Kippurim, in the first Perek.

This Mitzvah applies in the time of the Beis-Hamikdash. Nowadays, when due to our sins, we have neither the Beis-Hamikdash nor a Kohen Gadol, nor the Bigdei Kehunah nor the Korbanos, the whole of Yisrael has adopted the Minhag to enact the Avodah verbally in the Amidah, with prayer and supplication, as the Navi Hoshei'a writes (14:3) "And we will pay the bulls with our lips".


Mitzvah 314:
To Bring the Korban Musaf on Yom Kippur

It is a Mitzvah to bring the Korban Musaf on Yom Kippur, as the Torah writes in Emor (23:27) " ... and you shall bring a fire-offering for Hashem"; and in Pinchas the Torah writes (25:8) " ... and you shall bring an Olah to Hashem one bull, one ram and seven lambs".

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