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SEPTEMBER 25-26, 2004 10 TISHREI 5765


"For You, my G-d, I long, for You are my delight and love" (Opening poem to Arbit of Yom Kippur)

Yom Kippur is a great day of purification and inspiration. We look forward to being cleansed of our sins. Throughout the year man battles his inclination to do wrong and tries to strengthen the inclination to do good. However, there is another method one can follow to avoid sin. This can be the message of the great poem quoted above, written by Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra, "You are my delight and my love."' If one has delight in the spiritual side of life, one automatically avoids sin and is drawn like a magnet to misvot.

A true story is told of a Torah scholar, who spent his whole life studying Torah. Over the years he wrote a great amount of deep Torah insights. His colleagues told him that he should publish his works. He agreed, and made an appointment with an expert to look over and edit his works. He packed his precious papers in cartons and put them in his old jalopy and headed for his destination. Along the way he needed to make a short stop. When he came out he discovered that his old jalopy was stolen, together with his precious writings, never to be found again. He felt that day to be like Tish'ah B'Ab and could not be consoled. What would be if one of us would call him and tell him not to worry, we will buy him a new car. You can only imagine his reaction. He would say, "Oh, you think I care about the car? It is the Torah that I am missing. That was my life!"

My friends, our focus many times is on our physical bodies, our jalopies. Every year we get less and less mileage. It doesn't run up the hills like it used to. If we cared more about our souls we would be madly in love with the misvot. We wouldn't take them lightly, for they are our bank account for the future life. We do a daily battle with the yeser hara, because of our desire for the physical. We can lift ourselves up over this battle. Loving our spiritual side will bring so much joy when doing misvot that it's almost no contest. Tizku Leshanim Rabot. Rabbi Reuven Semah


Question: Why do we say "shalom alechem" ("peace be unto you") to others after completing Birkat Halebanah?

Answer: Since we are critical of our enemies in Birkat Halebanah, we tell our friends that it does not refer to them. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)

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