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OOCTOBER 7-8, 2011 10 TISHREI 5772


"At the time when the gates of favor are to be opened" (Piyut on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur)

The beautiful song of "Et Shaarei Rason" is sung on Rosh Hashanah before blowing the shofar and before Minhah on Yom Kippur. The gate that we sing about is the gate of teshubah. It is open on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and closed at Ne'ilah at the end of Yom Kippur. This gate is our lifeline to Hashem. One might think that this gate is only open to the fully repenting Jew. However, the word gate - "shaar" - has the same letters as "rasha" - the wicked. What connection does the wicked have with the gate?

One Yom Kippur, Rav Shalom Schwadron, the famous Maggid, was walking home from shul on Yom Kippur night. The hour was late and the streets of Jerusalem were completely silent. Such is the nature of Yom Kippur in Israel. There is not a car on the street, not a caf? that is open.

Rav Shalom was walking near Kikar Davidka. Suddenly he heard a group of people making noise. He was shocked. He had not heard a peep since he began walking from Geulah. Curious as to what was going on, he inched closer. He saw a crowd of non-religious Israelis, the type of gang one would expect to see hanging out at a caf? on Rehov ben Yehudah on a typical weeknight. As the group sat around, their leader stood before them. In a chanting voice he began "Mah nishtanah halaylah hazeh mikol haleilot? (Why is this night different from all other nights?) On all other nights of the year we eat and drink but on this night we don't. Why?" At this point everyone joined in unison, "Ki hayom Yom Kippurinm. (Because today is Yom Kippur.)"

Rav Schwadron watched, his eyes transfixed on the incredible scene unfolding before him. And then again the leader would begin to enumerate one sin after another that they would normally commit and then they would proclaim that it is Yom Kippur. On this night they would not dance; they would not eat unkosher food. They would not talk inappropriately. Because they knew Yom Kippur is different. They understood that even if during the rest of the year they may commit acts befitting a "rasha," on Yom Kippur, they can stand by the gate.

The gate is open for everyone on Yom Kippur. Tizku Leshanim Rabot. Rabbi Reuven Semah

Although Yom Kippur atones for a good portion of our sins, those transgressions between man and his fellow man are not forgiven unless we ask our friend to forgive us first. This should be a priority on everyone's list as we come to Yom Kippur, because we want to achieve the best atonement possible and we need to be forgiven by those we may have wronged. It is a proper custom to ask all of our friends' forgiveness before the holiday and to say we forgive them when asked by them.. It is especially important to kiss our parents' hands on Ereb Kippur and ask their forgiveness and, if they are not near us, to do it on the telephone. In addition, many synagogues have instituted that before Kal Nidre it is announced that everyone should forgive each other and everyone should say that they have forgiven. This creates a tremendous force of atonement in Heaven and will affect a Divine Pardon by Hashem to all His people. Tizku Leshanim Rabot.

Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

* * * * *

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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