web analytics
September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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
ISIS seized control of Quneitra, at least temporarily, towards the end of August 2014.
Israel Watching Northern Border with Syria, Lebanon
Latest Judaism Stories
Hertzberg-092614

Perhaps the most important leadership lesson Elkana taught us is to never underestimate the difference a single person can make.

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

The Torah notes that even when we are dispersed God will return us to Him.

Rabbi Sacks

Simply, for Rambam the number 14 (2×7) was his favored organizing principle.

One of the cornerstones of our Jewish life is chesed, kindness. Chesed can only be taught by example

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

This young, innocent child gave me a powerful, warm surge of energy and strength.

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

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

A Role Reversal
‘Return, O Wayward Sons…’
(Chagigah 15a)

When the Kleins returned, however, they were dismayed to see that the renters did a poor job cleaning up after themselves.

In Parshas Re’eh the Torah tells us about the bechira to adhere to the commandments of Hashem and refrain from sin. In Parshas Nitzavim, the Torah tells us that we have the choice to repent after we have sinned.

As Moshe is about to die, why does God tell him about how the Israelites will ruin everything?

Jonah objected to God accepting repentance based on ulterior motives and likely for short duration.

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Questions-Answers-logo

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: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

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: