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.
However remote the prospect of acquittal, a Jew must never give up. God commands us to challenge indictment with prayer. And the rabbis urge us to confront sentencing with hunger strikes. And so, the Midrash tells us, when Moses stood before God, at a loss for words with which to defend the sin of the golden calf, God Himself donned a tallit, took to the prayer stand, and showed Moses how to pray and what to say:
“And God passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, [His Thirteen Attributes]: The Lord, The Lord, mighty, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in love and truth; He remembers deeds of love for thousands of generations, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; He does not forgive those who do not repent…”
The Midrash continues, “that day, God covenanted with Moses that whenever and whatever their sin, Israel will always be forgiven if they recite the Thirteen Attributes.
Accordingly, religious leaders in the past would combine the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with ten days of fasting and prayers for forgiveness. However, because, fasting is prohibited on four out of the Ten Days of Repentance – namely, the two days of Rosh Hashanah, Shabbat Shuvah and Erev Yom Kippur – they would begin to fast and to recite Selichot four days before Rosh Hashanah.
These four days of fasting and prayer are known as the “Days of Selichot.” When Rosh Hashanah occurs on a Wednesday and Thursday, Selichot begin on the Sunday of the same week. When Rosh Hashanah occurs before Wednesday, Selichot begin on the Sunday of the week preceding the week of Rosh Hashanah.
Today, few people fast during the Days of Selichot, but the custom is to rise early to recite Selichot. Another reason for observing the Days of Selichot is that a person’s status before Rosh Hashanah is compared to that of a sacrifice about to be offered up in the Bet HaMikdash. Four days prior to its offering, each sacrifice underwent close examination to ensure the absence of any blemishes that would disqualify it for sacrifice. We, too, should examine ourselves during the four Selichot days for any defects that would render us unacceptable to God on the Day of Judgment.
In addition to the Thirteen Attributes, there are seven categories of Selichot prayers. These are: introductory prayers called petichot, prayers in the form of refrains called pizmonim, two-stanza prayers called sheniyot, three-stanza prayers called shelishiyot, four-stanza prayers called shalmoniyot, prayers recalling the binding of Isaac called akeida, and prayers for grace called techinot. Many of the Selichot prayers contain verses or phrases culled from the following scriptures: Exodus 32:11 and 34:9; Numbers 14:13-19; Psalms 25:11; 1 Kings; 8:36; Amos 7:2; Daniel 9:4-9 and Nehemiah 9:31-37
According to one opinion in the Talmud, at midnight God rises from His seat of judgment and occupies the seat of mercy from which He sustains the world. Midnight, therefore, according to this opinion, is the best time for Selichot. According to another opinion, God rides His Chariot through our world during the last three hours of the night. According to this opinion, the best time for Selichot is the last three hours before dawn. If one rises before dawn, he should recite Birchat HaTorah before reciting Selichot and the chazzan should wear a tallit without reciting the tallit blessing. Selichot may be said after daybreak. Selichot written in Hebrew may be recited by an individual in the absence of a minyan, but Selichot written in Aramaic may not. The Thirteen Attributes may not be recited in the absence of a minyan, but they may be read in the absence of a minyan with the tune used by a ba’al koreh when reading the Torah in public.
The Tur points out that a person on trial for an offense carrying capital punishment would don dark clothes and be in a general state of mourning. We, on the other hand, are so confident of God’s mercy that we wear white and festive clothes and celebrate the Day of Judgment.
Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.
About the Author: Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.
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Noach was the lonely man of faith living in a depraved world, full of wickedness.
Avraham became a great man during the 175 years of his life, while his predecessors became increasingly wicked, despite staggering knowledge, during their lifetimes of hundreds of years.
Shem realized that he owed his existence to his father who brought him into the world.
The flood was not sent to destroy, but to restore the positive potential of the world.
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?
Why is there is no mention of dinosaurs, and other prehistoric animals, in the Torah?
Strict din demands perfection. There is no room for shortcomings and no place for excuses; you are responsible.
Surprisingly, my husband and one son arrived home over half-an-hour earlier than usual. I excitedly shared my perfect-timing story, but my better half one upped me easily.
Noach felt a tug, and then heard a rip. His jacket had been caught on the nail, and the beautiful suit had a tear.
Boundaries must be set in every home. Parents and children are not pals. They are not equals.
Noah and his wife could not fathom living together as husband and wife and continuing the human race
The Babel story is the 2nd in a 4-act drama that’s unmistakably a connecting thread of Bereishit
Our intentions are critical in raising children because they mimic everything we parents do & think
Should we sit in the sukkah on a day that may be the eighth day when we are not commanded to sit in the sukkah at all?
In addition to Yom Kippur, there is at least one other instance when a person may fast on Shabbat – the case of a ta’anit chalom, in which a person wishes to fast to prevent an ominous dream from becoming reality.
We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?
If mourning is incompatible with Yom Tov, why is it not incompatible with Shabbat?
On Chol HaMoed some work is prohibited and some is permitted. According to some opinions, the work prohibition is biblical; according to others, it’s rabbinical.
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