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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Erev Yom Kippur’

A Time to Perfect Ourselves and Thereby the World

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Note from Harry Maryles: R. Netanel is a young man (age 20) who learns in Yeshivas  Mir Yerushalayim. He studied at Hasmonian in London and describes his Hashkafos as moderate Charedi  influenced by Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch and Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

Netanel  runs a Torah Website  - Geshmak Torah - which he describes as “a user-friendly Dvar Torah service with compelling, “say-able” Divrei Torah. gTorahmakes them navigable, accessible, and pleasant to read; with content that will speak to everyone”.

I am pleased to post this Dvar Torah submitted by him for Erev Yom Kippur. His words follow.

As Moshe winds down in his final address to the people, he reiterates the responsibility they took on when they agreed the covenant at Sinai:

Today, Hashem your God commands you to perform these laws and statutes; to guard and keep them – with all your heart and soul. Regarding Hashem you have said today, that He will be a god to you; that you will walk in his ways, to keep his laws and statutes; and listen to His voice.

Hashem has said of you this day, for you to be a Chosen People for Him, as He has said to you; and you will keep His mitzvos. And He will place you supreme, above all the nations He made; for praise, honour and glory, that you would be a holy nation dedicated to Him, as was said (26:16-19).

The first part relates to our commitment to the relationship, and the second part to Hashem’s commitment. The transition though, is quite difficult:

Hashem has said of you this day, for you to be a Chosen People for Him, as He has said to you; and you will keep His mitzvos.

The opening is clearly Hashem speaking of us, but the ending, which discusses mitzva performance is clearly back to our commitment. How is adherence to Torah related to being called Am Segula? Whose commitment is this about? And what is the supremacy granted as a result?

Rabbeinu Bachye teaches that being called Am Segula – “chosen” – is not what it seems at face value. It is not a status we are born with; it is a title, an achievement that we have to work towards.

Similarly with circumcision. The very first mitzva a newborn is party to is a microcosm of the Jewish mission; perfecting what we have with what we are given, working towards the ultimate goal of perfection.

Rabbeinu Bachye says that the entire verse pertains to our commitment –– we just have to earn it.

So being chosen is in fact a bestowing of responsibility, but is in turn rewarded with being “supreme” over the other nations. What does this mean?

R. Shamshon Refael Hirsch writes how when the responsibilities are met, the world becomes a better place. The world is damaged, and being a better person repairs it.

Adam was commanded to “conquer” the world, when he was still all alone. His conquest was through listening to God; this is how all the animals knew to come to him to be named – they perceived godliness in him.

The same with Yakov – the Torah emphasises how he left Beersheba and went to Charan. The former seems redundant – it should only matter that he arrived somewhere – and the answer is that his departure does matter. When someone righteous leaves or goes somewhere, the environment and atmosphere of the place fundamentally change.

There is a story told of a young Chafetz Chaim, who saw the ills of the world, and decided to change the world. Seeing that the task was too monumentally large, he changed his mind, and set out to change his community. After seeing that that too was impossible, he downgraded his ambitions again, and decided that if he could not make them better, he’d at least himself.

And by making himself better, he really did change the world.

R. Hirsch teaches that by being better people, the world becomes a better place. There is famine, war, child slavery and kidnapping in the world, and while people attempt to deal with the symptoms, it is ultimately futile if humans aren’t more humane.

This is also what we mean when we make brachos, when we say Asher Kidshanu; and what we mean we say Ata VChartanu on Yomim Tovim – the very next words confirm that v’Kidashtanu b’Mitzvosecha – what distinguishes us is our mitzvos.

The Torah assures us that perfection of the world comes through perfection of self. On Rosh HaShana we daven for the world to become a better place. It’s in our hands to make it so.

Visit the Emes Ve-hmunah blog.

Q & A: A Matter Of Custom? (Conclusion)

Wednesday, October 27th, 2004
QUESTION: We are a happy newly married couple who have a few disagreements concerning the upcoming holidays. My wife insists that on Erev Yom Kippur there is no need to eat more than one meal – right before the fast. She also insists that there is no need for her to eat in the sukka on Sukkot, while my custom is for a woman to do so. Who is correct?
Name withheld by request
ANSWER: We began our discussion last week with the Biblical source for the mitzva of Yom Kippur. Two verses in the Torah were mentioned, Leviticus 23:27 and 23:32. Based on these verses, the Gemara (Berachot 8b) explains that we are to feast on the ninth of Tishrei and fast on the tenth. One who does so is considered to have fasted on both days. We referred to R. Shlomo Kluger’s commentary (Chochmat Shlomo, Orach Chayyim 604) as to whether women are obligated to eat on Erev Yom Kippur (women are usually exempt from mitzvot such as this one – positive commands that are time-dependent). R. Kluger’s reference to Sukka 28b seems to indicate that women are not obligated in the feast but are obligated to fast. However, his conclusion was that a hekesh, an analogous comparison, is used. Just as women are obligated in the fast, so they are obligated in the feast, similar to the rule that women are included in the mitzva to eat matza because they are included in the mitzva to abstain from chametz on Pesach.We conclude our discussion this week with a further look at women’s requirement to eat on Erev Yom Kippur in anticipation of the fast, as well as the customs women follow for eating in the sukka on Sukkot.

* * *

The Gaon R. Akiva Eger discussed a similar issue in response to a scholar whose daughter was quite ill, so much so that all food was harmful to her, and for many weeks she had been living on medicines. The question was whether she was required, according to Halacha, to eat on Erev Yom Kippur (Responsa by R. Akiva Eger, 16).

R. Eger answered, “Chalila vechalila – Heaven forbid that she should eat. And since you write that she is learned, very observant and G-d-fearing, she will probably, though very reluctantly, listen to you.

“My advice is that you should take one or two individuals along with you to tell her that this letter of mine contains the following ruling in her regard: she is not allowed to eat anything more on this day than she would on any other day.”

He continues, “I am a bit confused as to whether women [who are not ill] are required to eat on Erev Yom Kippur. [Obviously they will eat in preparation for the fast of Yom Kippur, but are they actually required to eat?] Perhaps they are relieved from this mitzva as in all other situations of mitzvat aseh sheha’zeman grama – a time-driven mitzva.’”

“Note as well that the Kesef Mishneh commenting on (Hilchot Shevitat Asor 3:9) ponders whether the exegesis of ‘Ha’ochel veshoteh ba’teshi’i … – He who eats and drinks on the ninth is considered as if he fasted both on the ninth and on the tenth,’ is a solid, steadfast exegesis or whether it is only an asmachta – a supporting source – and thus it would only be a mitzva that is time-driven and women are relieved of that requirement. Or perhaps this is not so, since the verse states ‘On the ninth day of the month in the evening,’ to teach us that it is considered as if they fasted on both the ninth and the tenth, and whoever is required to fast, women included, are also required to feast (eat) on Erev Yom Kippur.”

Thus we see that even according to R. Akiva Eger it would seem that we might find reason to require a healthy woman to eat on Erev Yom Kippur due to doubt about the requirement, and he is lenient only in the case of a woman who is seriously ill.

Regarding the requirement for women to eat in the sukka, the Mechaber (Orach Chayyim 640), based on the mishna in Tractate Sukka 28b, rules that women are not required to perform that mitzva.

Yet the Mishna Berura (ad loc.) states that while they are exempt from this obligation, if they choose to eat in the sukka and wish to utter the blessing “leishev basukka,” they must do so themselves; a man may not do it for them. (This means that if the man already ate he may not recite this blessing solely for the woman who did not eat yet – see Ba’er Heitev ad loc.)

The Rema (Orach Chayyim 589) states as follows: “The custom is that women bless on mitzvot aseh sheha’zeman grama,” disputing the Mechaber, who rules that they do not.

Thus we see that even though there is no Biblical mitzva for women to eat in the sukka, there is a halachic precedent. Additionally, the greatest simcha on Yom Tov is when the entire family sits down and enjoys the Yom Tov meals together. Since men must eat in the sukka, it logically follows that the women will eat there as well – but only at their discretion.

However, there are many Chassidim who are very strict that women do not eat in the sukka. The men make Kiddush aloud and the women stay outside the sukka and listen. It is possible that your wife comes from such a family. Usually, a couple follows the husband’s customs. What is unique here is that eating in the sukka is a custom that is dependent on the woman; it is her prerogative.

However, for shalom bayit purposes, you may try to gently persuade your wife to sit with you in the sukka, at least in your home. Understandably, when you are at her parents’ home, it would be proper for you to abide by their customs.

Q & A: A Matter Of Custom? (Part I)

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004
QUESTION: We are a happy newly married couple who have a few disagreements concerning the upcoming holidays. My wife  insists that on Erev Yom Kippur there is no need to eat more than one meal – right before the fast. She also insists that there is no need for her to eat in the sukka on Sukkot, while my custom is for a woman to do so. Who is correct?
Name withheld by request
ANSWER: I am not sure I understand your wife’s first statement properly. Does she mean that you are not obligated to eat more than one meal on Erev Yom Kippur or does she mean that she is not obligated to eat more than one meal on Erev Yom Kippur? Her second statement I do understand – she feels she is not duty bound by halacha to eat in the sukka.
Hopefully our discussion will clarify these matters.The Torah (Leviticus 23:27) states as follows: “Ach be’asor lachodesh ha’shevi’i hazeh yom hakippurim hu, mikra kodesh yihyeh lachem ve’innitem et nafshoteichem vehikravtem isheh l’Hashem – But on the 10th day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement, it is a holy day for you; you shall afflict your souls and offer a sacrifice by fire before Hashem.” We also find another verse (infra 23:32): “Shabbat shabbaton hu lachem ve’innitem et
nafshoteichem betish’a lachodesh ba’erev, me’erev ad erev tishbetu shabbat’chem – A Sabbath of rest it shall be for you and you shall afflict your souls on the ninth day of the [seventh] month, from evening until evening you shall rest for your Sabbath.”

The Gemara (Berachot 8b) cites R. Chiyya b. Rav of Difti (Dibta, on the Tigris River), who finds difficulty with the juxtaposition of these two verses, since the second verse appears to say that the fast is on the ninth day! But surely it is on the tenth day, as stated in the first verse. The verses can even be interpreted to mean that we have to fast on the ninth day and on the tenth day of Tishrei! Therefore, we must say that it comes to teach that whoever eats (feasts) and drinks on the ninth day, the verse accounts it to him as if he fasted on both the ninth and the tenth.

Based on this Gemara we find the following in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayyim 604, Hilchot Yom Hakippurim): “It is a mitzva to eat on the day preceding Yom Kippur and to feast elaborately.”

We find further (Orach Chayyim 607): “One must confess at [the] Mincha [Amida], before the
se’uda mafseket [the meal before the fast, when we cease any further eating]; the individual confesses at the end of his Amida, and the chazzan [in his repetition] says the confession as part of the Amida on Yom Kippur [but not at Mincha on Erev Yom Kippur].”

The Magen Avraham explains that the confession is said at the end of Mincha before the
se’uda “in case he suffers a mishap during the course of the meal [possibly rendering himself unclean], and he will be unable to confess [in the remaining time before Yom Kippur].”

From these two statements of the Mechaber we might infer that there are a minimum of two se’udot on Erev Yom Kippur, since we note that one of the general characteristics of the day is to feast elaborately – which would seem to take place in the course of the day – and then we mention a specific se’uda which is eaten as we prepare to fast.

Indeed, in Likutei Maharich – by the Gaon R. Yisrael Chaim Friedman, zt”l, Rav of Rachov,
originally published in Marmorosh, Hungary - Seder Erev Yom Hakippurim, the author notes that in the first statement both the Mechaber and the Tur (Orach Chayyim 604) refer to se’udat shacharit – the morning meal. Some of the items eaten are described – and we realize that it is not a breakfast of cereal and milk but an elaborate meal. The second statement (Orach Chayyim 607) clearly refers to the second meal, the se’uda mafseket.

In Orach Chayyim (608) mention is also made of certain foods that are inappropriate to eat on Erev Yom Kippur, such as dairy foods, but these foods may be eaten at the morning meal.

Thus, we see references to the need for two se’udot on Erev Yom Kippur. Your question does not address your requirement to eat two meals – and indeed you must eat two meals – but rather your wife’s requirement on that day.

We find in the commentary Chochmat Shlomo (by R.Shlomo Kluger, 1785-1869, which is printed in the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 604) that in 1826 R. Kluger was asked the following question: Are women included in the positive command to eat on Erev Yom Kippur or not, as it is a “mitzvat aseh sheha’zeman grama – a positive command that is time-determined” [and women are exempt from this category of mitzvot]?

The response R. Kluger gave was that the answer is apparent from Tractate Sukka (28b),
where the Gemara derives that women are included in “innui tosefet Yom Hakippurim – physical deprivations that commence at the eve of Yom Kippur just before nightfall.” R. Kluger notes that since there is no Biblically stated punishment and warning (onesh ve’az’hara) for the deprivations, one might think (erroneously) that women are not included. However, women are included among those who must deprive themselves physically on Yom Kippur proper. Their inclusion is derived from the word “ha’ezrach” in the verse “Basukkot teshvu
shiv’at yamim, kol ha’ezrach be’yisrael yeshvu basukkot – In booths shall you dwell for seven days, all who sojourn in Israel shall dwell in booths” (Leviticus 23:42).

Therefore we might think that women would be excluded from the mitzva to eat on Erev Yom Kippur, which does not include a Biblical warning and punishment either. In actuality, the requirement applies to them, just as we see that on Passover (see Pesachim 43a) women are obligated to eat matza because eating matza is derived from a hekesh – an analogous comparison to the prohibition of eating chametz (leaven). Women are indeed included in the
latter. The verse (Deuteronomy 16:3) states, “Lo tochal alav chametz, shiv’at yamim tochal alav matzot… – You shall not eat leavened bread with it [the paschal offering], for seven days you shall eat matzot…”

The hekesh of matza and chametz teaches us that all who are prohibited in the consumption of
chametz are required to eat matza.

The Gemara bases the requirement that women are prohibited to eat chametz on the verse (Numbers 5:5): “… Ish o isha ki ya’asu mikol chatot ha’adam lim’ol ma’al b’Hashem ve’ashma hanefesh hahee – Any man or woman who shall transgress any of the sins of man by betraying Hashem, he/she shall incur guilt.” Thus, we see that men and women are equally liable for all transgressions committed.

Similarly, adds R. Kluger (Chochmat Shlomo), since it states “ve’innitem et nafshoteichem… – You shall afflict your souls on the ninth of the month in the evening, from evening to evening you shall rest for your Sabbath (the Sabbath of Yom Kippur),” we make a similar hekesh that whoever is obligated in the deprivations (afflictions) from evening to evening, which include tosefet Yom Hakippurim, is surely included in the eating requirement on Erev Yom Kippur. Indeed, R. Kluger concludes that women are required to feast on the eve of Yom Kippur just as men are.

(To be continued)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-a-matter-of-custom-part-i/2004/10/20/

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