web analytics
July 8, 2015 / 21 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Q & A: Elul – The Gateway To The Days Of Awe (Part I)

QuestionsandAnswers-logo

Question: How should one properly do teshuvah during Elul as we approach the Days of Awe, the Yamim Nora’im?

Zvi Unger
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: The Rambam (Hilchot Talmud Torah 7:13) states, “Even though a sage is permitted to excommunicate a person who offended him, it is not admirable for a sage to react in such a manner. Rather, he should avoid listening to the words of the am ha’aretz, the ignoramus. Let him not pay heed to them, as King Solomon counseled (Ecclesiastes 7:21), ‘Moreover, pay no attention to everything men say lest you hear your own servant disparaging you.’ Such was the way of the pious of the early generations. They would hear others disgracing them and would not answer; and further, they would forgive those who disgraced them and pardon them…. However, this only applies if they were disgraced in private…but a sage who was disgraced in public may not forgive his honor, as it is the honor of the Torah….”

It would take volumes to answer your question comprehensively. Of course, a thorough study of Rambam’s Hilchot Teshuvah is a good place to start.

One thought comes across as a sure key to unlock the door to the gates of repentance: During the month of Elul, we should try to do everything “lifnim mishurat ha’din – above and beyond the requirements of the law.”

Indeed, we find in the Talmud (Berachot 7a) that this trait is greatly valued by Hashem: “R. Yochanan said in the name of R. Yose: How do we know that the Holy One, Blessed be He, says prayers? Because it is written (Isaiah 56:7), ‘I will bring them to My holy mountain and I will gladden them in My house of prayer.’ It does not say the house of ‘their prayer,’ but beit tefillati, lit., ‘the house of My prayer.’ Therefore, we see that the Holy One, Blessed be He, says prayers.’”

The Gemara asks, “What does He pray? R. Zutra b. Tobi said in the name of Rab, ‘May it be My will that My mercy suppress My anger and that My mercy prevails over My other attributes, so that I deal with My children according to the attribute of mercy and, on their behalf, go lifnim mishurat ha’din – stopping short of the limit of strict justice – namely, [acting] mercifully, beyond the letter of the law [in forgiving them their transgressions].’”

The Gemara (infra) tells of a related incident that occurred to the sage R. Yishmael b. Elisha (who was also a Kohen Gadol), who stated as follows: “I once entered the innermost part [of the Sanctuary, the Kodesh HaKodashim,] to offer incense and saw the L-rd of Hosts [lit., the crown of G-d] seated upon a high and exalted throne. He said to me, ‘Yishmael, My son, bless Me.’ I replied, ‘May it be Your will that Your mercy suppress Your anger and that Your mercy prevail over Your other attributes so that You may deal with Your children according to the attribute of mercy and judge them with a mercy that is beyond the requirements of the law.’ And He nodded to me with His head.”

Rashi explains that this nod signified G-d’s assent to R. Yishmael’s words, similar to our answering “Amen” to a blessing.

What we see from this Gemara is the greatness of our relationship with G-d and the unique potential afforded every Jew in his quest for expanding that relationship. The revealing yearning of G-d to solidify His closeness by requesting a blessing from a mere mortal – whether a Kohen Gadol or a scholar, or even both, but nonetheless a mortal of flesh and blood – is a sign of His love for us and, as such, should serve as a sign of the boundless opportunities for closeness with Him as well.

Indeed, we find an open Biblical reference to the heights of closeness to G-d in parshat Shoftim (Deuteronomy 18:14-15): “Ki ha’goyim ha’eleh asher atah yoresh otam el me’onnenim v’el kosmim yishmau ve’atah lo chen natan lecha Hashem Elokecha – For these nations that you are possessing, they hearkened to astrologers and diviners; but as for you, not so has Hashem, your G-d, given for you. Navi mi’kirbecha me’achecha kamoni yakim lecha Hashem, Elokecha, eilav tishma’un – A prophet from your midst, from your brethren, like me, shall Hashem, your G-d, establish for you; to him shall you hearken.”

Rashi explains the passage “mi’kirbecha me’achecha kamoni” as follows: just as I, G-d, am from your midst, from your brethren I shall cause to arise in My place (under My tutelage – i.e., a prophet) as well as from one prophet to the next. What we see here is dramatic: not only is G-d in our midst, but a mortal flesh and bones human can be endowed by G-d with His holy spirit. This is a startling point to ponder, considering our relationship with our Creator!

(To be continued)

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: Elul – The Gateway To The Days Of Awe (Part I)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Yeshiva boys learn Torah together at Beit Midrash Derech Chaim.  Due to their participation in a pre-army intelligence program, the IDF requires their identities to remain secret.
Exclusive: First IDF Cyber-Defense Program Opens at Yeshiva
Latest Judaism Stories
17th_of_Tammuz_(medium)_(english)

17th of Tammuz: Beginning 3 weeks of mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

With Ruth, The Torah seems to be stating that children shouldn’t be punished for the sins of parents

Neihaus-070315

Without a foundation, one cannot hope to build a structure.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Why do we have a parsha in Sefer Shemos named after Yisro who was not only a former idolater, but actually served as a priest for Avodah Zarah!

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

This Land Is ‘My’ Land
‘[If The Vow Was Imposed] In The Seventh Year…’
(Nedarim 42b)

The Shulchan Aruch in the very first siman states that one should rise in the morning like a lion, implying that simply rising form bed requires strength of a lion, in line with the Midrash.

Attempts to interpret the message of Hashem in the absence of divine prophecy ultimately may twist that message in unintended ways that can lead to calamitous events.

Suddenly, the pilot’s voice could be heard. He explained that this was a special day for those passengers on board who lived in Israel.

If the sick person is thrust into a situation where he is compelled to face his sickness head on, we who are not yet sick can encourage him by facing it with him.

All agree that Jews ARE different. How? Why? The Bible’s answer is surprising and profound.

What’s the nation of Israel’s purpose in the world? How we can bring God’s blessings into the world?

“Is there a difference between rescuing and other services?” asked Ploni.

To my dismay, I’ve seen that shidduch candidates with money become ALL desirable traits for marriage

Bil’am’s character is complex and nuanced; neither purely good nor purely evil.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-elul-the-gateway-to-the-days-of-awe-part-i/2013/08/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: