web analytics
November 1, 2014 / 8 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.
Yehuda Glick’s Condition Stabilizing, “He Was Very Lucky” (1:00 PM)
Latest Judaism Stories
PTI-103114

People love their GPS; just type in the address and it tells you exactly how to get to where you want to go.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

In the same way as a married woman is precluded from marrying another man without a get, so too is this widow prohibited from marrying another man without chalitzah.

Daf-Yomi-logo

The Ban Of The Communities
‘Impaired Chalitzah’
(Yevamos 26b)

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

“My mother raised us to independence, all of us,” Rivka says, which certainly plays itself out in the fact that all three children have taken a different path.

“ ‘We’re almost out of stamps,’ I said. ‘I’ll be happy to run over to the post office and pick up a supply.’ ”

Bris Bein Habesarim affirmed that Hashem gave the land to Avraham’s children. It does not specify for how long. It did not guarantee the Jewish people eternal ownership of the land

According to the Raavad if one who is uncircumcised breaks something he will be exempt from paying for it since he was chayav kares at the same time as he was obligated to repay for the item he broke.

Why does Hebrew refer to mothers-in-law as “sunshine” when society often calls them the opposite?

Having herself been victimized by Pharoah, Sarah should have been more sensitive to Hagar.

Avram’s father was not impressed with the cleverness of his son. In fact, he was so unimpressed that he took him to Nimrod the king, who pronounced him an enemy of the state and attempted to execute him.

How do the stories in Lech Lecha help us understand the central tension of Abraham’s life, legacy?

Abraham did not govern society but instead was the representative of God’s kingdom on earth.

Hagar grossly miscalculated her own merits and demonstrated a serious lack of gratitude for Sarai.

Noach was the lonely man of faith living in a depraved world, full of wickedness.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

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: