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

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Vol. 19   No. 53

This issue is sponsored anonymously
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Yom Kipur Supplement

The Day Itself Atones
(Based on Rabeinu Bachye)

"You shall not do any work on this very day (be'Etzem ha'Yom ha'zeh), for it is a Day of Atonement to atone for you before Hashem your G-d" (23:28).

Presumably, due to the fact that, on the one hand, the word "be'etzem" is perfectly dispensable, and on the other, the Pasuk specifically refers to the day as "Yom ha'Kipurim", Rabeinu Bachya points out that both the word "be'etzem" and the phrase "to atone for you", appear at first sight, superfluous.

He answers (again presumably) based on the Parshah of the Avodah on Yom Kipur in Acharei-Mos, which conveys the impression that the Avodah of the Kohen Gadol is crucial to the atonement, and that consequently, when there is no Beis-Hamikdash, there can be no atonement.

By adding the two above phrases, he therefore concludes, that the Torah teaches us that it is the day itself that has the power to atone, even when the Korbanos are not brought.

We can safely assume that the atonement is that much more complete if we at least learn about the relevant Korbanos. As is well-known, when one is unable to bring a Korban, learning about it is considered as if one has brought it. It is clear however, that even that is not crucial.


Rabeinu Bachye concludes that Yom Kipur only atones on the condition that one does Teshuvah, as we learn from the opening word in the Parshah "ach", as Rashi explains.


What "Ach" Comes to Exclude

"Only (Ach) on the tenth of this seventh month is Yom ha'Kipurim, it shall be a holy calling for you, and you shall afflict yourselves, and bring a Korban, a fire-offering to Hashem (23:27).

The K'li Yakar queries Rabeinu Bachye's final D'rashah however, in that "Ach" refers directly to "the tenth of the month" which follows it. Consequently, he argues, it would be more logical to learn from it that the tenth of Tishri atones, but not the ninth. And he explains the Chazal (based on the words "on the ninth of the month in the evening", in Pasuk 32) that one is obligated to eat on the ninth, and that whosever does, is considered as if he would have fasted on the ninth and the tenth, is good reason to believe that the ninth, as well as the tenth, atones. Therefore the Torah inserts "ach" to teach us that it doesn't.

It is important to note however, that the explanation of Rabeinu Bachye and Rashi, is cited, not only in the Gemara in Shavu'os 13a, as noted in the Seifer K'li Yakar itself, but also in the Toras Kohanim (the Sifra).


Three Links in a Chain

The Meshech Chochmah, who cites the Toras Kohanim, presents a novel explanation to explain the 'superfluous word "Ach" both with regard to Yom Kipur and with regard to Succos (See Pasuk 39), based on the sequence Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kipur and Succos..

The Rambam writes that the purpose of blowing the Shofar is to remind us to wake up from our 'sleep' and to do Teshuvah. Consequently, there is good reason to believe that Yom Kipur atones on condition that we blew the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah and did Teshuvah during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah.

In the same vein, the commentaries explain that the Simchah on Succos (as expressed in the Mitzvah of Lulav) is connected with the fact that we attained a pardon for our sins on Yom Kipur. In that case, it would seem that rejoicing with the Lulav is contingent upon our having atonement on Yom Kipur.


Therefore the Torah writes "ach" on Yom Kipur, to teach us that fasting on Yom Kipur is an independent Mitzvah that does not hinge on blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah. And the same applies to the Mitzvah of Lulav, which one is obligated to take irrespective of whether one fasted on Yom Kipur on not.

This does not mean that the three Yamim-Tovim are totally disconnected. To be sure, Yom Kipur follows Rosh Hashanah and is connected to it, as is Succos to Yom Kipur, in the way that we explained. What the Pasuk is teaching us is that if Bedi'eved, one failed to perform the one, one remains obligated to perform the other. The connection may be weakened or even lost, but the Mitzvah remains intact!

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Some Dinim of Yom Kipur
(Adapted from the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch [133:20/21])

Making Up the Hundred B'rachos

It is a good idea to smell spices a number of times on Yom Kipur, and to recite a B'rachah over them, in order to make up the hundred B'rachos that a person is obligated to recite daily. However, as long as one has not taken one's mind off the Besamim, reciting another B'rachah constitutes a B'rachah le'vatoloh (a B'rachah in vain). One should therefore take care to leave a long break between the occasions that one smells them (e.g. between one Tefilah and the next).

It is preferable to take a different spice each time, even if it is of the same kind, and certainly if it belongs to a different species, over which one is then obligated to recite a different B'rachah ('Atzei Besamim' 'Isvei Besamim' and 'Miynei Besamim').

As a matter of fact, someone who has Kavanah during all the B'rachos of the Shatz and the Leining of the Parshiyos and the Haftarah is missing only three B'rachos, which can be easily be made up with the B'rachos over the spices.

The Misgeres ha'Shulchan quotes the Magen Avraham, who says that there are only three B'rachos missing even if one does not have Kavanah to be Yotzei with the B'rachos of the Shatz.

He also points out that although one answers 'Omein' even without having heard the B'rachah, one can only be Yotzei the B'rachah as if one actually recited it or if one hears the B'rachah as well.



One mentions the dead ('Yizkor') on Yom Kipur, because mentioning the dead breaks a person and makes him humble. Moreover, the dead too, require atonement, as the Sifri comments on the Pasuk in Parshas Shoftim (21:8) "Atone for your people Yisrael whom You redeemed ": "Atone for your people Yisrael", 'this refers to the living'; "whom You redeemed", 'this refers to the dead'.

One therefore donates Tzedakah on their behalf (though one should take care to say 'b'li neder'). And we find that at the end of Parshas Tetzaveh, the Torah writes "Once a year one shall atone for it (the Mizbe'ach)". And the Pasuk continues " each man shall give the redemption of his soul to Hashem" - a hint that Tzedakah redeems the soul.

And the reason that Tzedakah helps to atone for a deceased person is because G-d knows that if he was still alive, he would have given Tzedakah himself. (Consequently, there is no point in giving Tzedakah on behalf of a Rasha - Rokei'ach.) It is also possible for a living person to Daven for G-d to lighten the punishment from a deceased person (even for a rasha); for so we find that David Hamelech Davened on behalf of his son Avshalom (Sotah 10b).

For their part, the dead defend their descendants (before the Heavenly court). That explains, says the Rokei'ach, why we donate Tzedakah in their honour.

Also on the last day of Pesach, the second day of Shavu'os (in Chutz la'Aretz) and on Shemini Atzeres we mention the dead, because on those days we Lein the Parshah of "Kol ha'Bechor", which contains the words "Each man (shall give) according to the blessing that G-d bestowed upon you". So we donate money for Tzedakah, and since we do, we take the opportunity of giving it in honour of the deceased, and we assume that G-d will remember us together with them.

It is customary for those whose parents are still alive to leave Shul during Yizkor. It is also customary for an Aveil within the first year of the death of his father or mother to go out too. The reason for this, as cited by the Sha'arei Rachamim, is because, due to the freshness of the 'wound', they are likely to burst into tears, thereby disturbing the other congregants, as well as transgressing the sin of mourning on Yom-Tov.

* * *

Yom Kipur - a Day of Rejoicing!

"Go out and gaze, O daughters of Tzi'on, upon the King to whom peace belongs, adorned with the crown His nation made for Him, on the day His Torah was given, on the day His heart was gladdened by the construction of His Beis-Hamikdash" (Shir ha'Shirim 3:11).

The Mishnah at the end of Maseches Ta'anis cites this Pasuk as proof that the girls of Yerushalayim would go and dance in the vineyards on Yom Kipur.

What has the above Pasuk got to do with Yom Kipur, you may well ask? The answer lies in the Bartenura, who explains that 'the day the Torah was given' refers to Yom Kipur, because it was the day on which the second Luchos were handed to Moshe (the day on which G-d forgave K'lal Yisrael for the sin of the Golden Calf - 'joyfully and with a full heart' [See Rashi Ki Sissa 33:11]). Furthermore, he explains, the Pasuk refers to Yom Kipur as 'the day on which the Beis-Hamikdash was constructed', because the first Beis-Hamikdash was consecrated on Yom Kipur (indeed, Sh'lomoh ordered the people to eat and to rejoice on that day).

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