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SEPTEMBER 21-22, 2007 10 TISHREI 5768

Pop Quiz: Whose death do we recall in the Torah reading of Yom Kippur?


"Remember us for life, o King who desires life, inscribe us in the book of life - for Your sake, o living G-d." (Amidah - Ten Days of Teshubah)

During the Ten Days of Teshubah culminating in Yom Kippur, we have the above quoted addition in the first berachah of the Amidah. There is a well-known question concerning this addition. This addition is a plea for life and the Talmud states that a person is not permitted to make personal requests in the first three and last three blessings. A well-known answer is that we ask Hashem for life, but what kind of life are we referring to? Is it simply to have a good time? The answer to this is a resounding "No." Our request for life is for a life that Hashem, our King, will desire. It is for life that will find favor in His eyes and thereby justify our continued existence. It is for a life lived for His sake - ?????????????????.

Rav Avraham Pam z"tl tells a touching story that makes this point real. A young mother was gravely ill with the dreaded disease. The medical prognosis was so bleak that the doctors said that only a miracle could save her. They were astounded at her willingness to undergo excruciatingly painful treatments which only minutely improved her statistical chances for survival. "Why prolong the agony?" they advised family members. Yet the woman persisted in her determination to do anything even remotely possible to gain an extension of life. When asked why she was doing this, she responded, "I have little children and I have so much to teach them. I haven't finished my job yet…" That is a life of ???????????????????? - a life that our King desires. This woman realized how precious and irreplaceable every minute of life is and how it is filled with priceless opportunities to accomplish great things.

One doesn't have to be at the gates of death to come to this realization. If people with good health and healthy minds would appreciate the gift of life, they would accomplish great things and not waste it. Let us beg Hashem for more life so we can show what we can do. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

On Yom Kippur, throughout the day we will be saying the verse "Ki bayom hazeh yechaper alechem…lifnei Haqshem titharu," which means, "Hashem will forgive our sins on this day and before Him we will be purified. We see that there are two levels, to be forgiven for sins and to become purified. The soul was created pure, as we say every day, "Elokai neshamah shenatata bi tehorah - G-d, the soul you gave me is pure." Throughout the year we come into contact with undesirable things which causes our soul to become sullied. This is besides the sins which need atonement. So the gift of Yom Kippur is truly remarkable - not only are we forgiven for the actual sins, but the impurity which comes along with it is removed by Hashem, Who is the source of purity. This means we can have back our sensitivity and our closeness to Hashem and to all things upright and good.

Let us allow this process to take place this Yom Kippur as we pray with all our hearts for forgiveness and purity and let us all be inscribed in the Book of Life, Health and Happiness. Tizku Leshanim Rabot. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

Answer to Pop Quiz: Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aharon.

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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