Dvar Torah Nitzavim – Return Policy: Do Teshuva Now and Avoid the Holiday Rush

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    Nitzavim – Return Policy:
    לא בשמים הוא לאמר מי יעלה לנו השמימה ויקחה לנו וישמענו אתה ונעשנה ולא מעבר לים הוא לאמר מי יעבר לנו אל עבר הים ויקחה לנו וישמענו אתה ונעשנה כי קרוב אליך הדבר מאד בפיך ובלבבך לעשתו
    It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, and let us hear it, so that we can fulfill it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and fetch it for us, and let us hear it, so that we can fulfill it?” Rather, the matter is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it. (Devarim 30:12-14)

    Rashi writes that these pesukim are referring to the mitzvah of Torah study. Even if the Torah were in heaven, we would have to ascend to heaven in order to learn Torah. The closeness of the matter, according to Rashi, is referring to the Torah, which was given in both written and oral forms.
    The Ramban (V. 11), however, writes that the commandment mentioned here is the mitzvah of teshuvah, repentance. Teshuvah is a mitzvah that is never distant but can be done at any time and any place.
    Even if teshuvah is not a difficult mitzvah to fulfill, there is another factor that is worth mentioning. The Mishnah in Avos (4:13) writes that when one fulfills a mitzvah, he acquires for himself an angel who acts as his advocate; when one commits a sin, he creates an accusing angel.
    The sefer Karan Ohr Pnei Moshe, brought by the Chida in Midbar Kedeimos (Tishrei), deals with a unique question. We can understand how teshuvah transforms a person. There is true remorse, amends are made, and there is an honest commitment for the future. In essence, the penitent is not the same person he was before.
    But what of the accusing angel that was created when he sinned? We know that there is a concept of bittul be’shishim, nullification in a ratio of 1:60. We may suggest that this concept can apply to the accusing angel created by the sin when the person does teshuvah. However, bittul does not apply to a biryah (literally, a whole organism). An intact insect, for example, would not be nullified even in a ratio of 1:1000. How, then, can the biryah, the evil entity created by the sin, be done away with? Even if teshuvah changes the person, how can it remove what cannot be nullified?
    The Karan Ohr Pnei Moshe then points out that this din is the opinion of the Bavli (which is the normative halachah). The Yerushalmi (brought in Tur Y.D. 100), however, maintains that these items are negated in a proportion of 1 in 960.
    This is why Hashem established Tishrei as the month of teshuvah. The gematria of תשרי plus 50, corresponding to the 50 shaarei binah (levels of understanding) totals 960. It takes a certain amount of binah, understanding, to do proper teshuvah. This is alluded to in Megillah (17b), where the Gemara explains why the berachah of teshuvah in Shemoneh
    Esrei follows the berachah of binah. With the strength of proper teshuvah, we can nullify or destroy even this evil entity.
    In Chomas Anach (Mishpatim, os 19; Pesach Einayim on Terumos 10: 8), the Chida explains that this is why the yetziras havlad, the formation of the developing fetus, only occurs after 40 days (Sotah 2a). It takes 40 days, or 960 hours, to cleanse and prepare the body for the life-giving transformation that will take place. That is also why Moshe was on Har Sinai for 40 days prior to receiving the Luchos. He needed the 40 days, comprising 960 hours, to be mevatel, to nullify, all vestiges of anything non-holy within him, in order to become the ish ha’Elokim, the G-dly man capable of receiving the Torah.
    With this, the Chida also explains why a mikveh must contain at least 40 sa’ah (units of measurement) of water, each sa’ah containing 24 lug (units of measurement). The mikveh must have the strength of 960 to be mevatel and purify the person immersing from his tumah.
    Perhaps we can extend this to explain why the mabul lasted 40 days. 40 days x 24 hours = 960 hours. The world needed 960 hours of the searing rain of the mabul to totally destroy all the tumah, impurity, on the earth. The number 960 has the power to transform and eradicate anything.
    According to the Bnei Yissaschar (Maamarei Elul: 1:15; see inside for a deeper insight), the 30 days of Elul (including the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, which is the last day of Av) plus the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah give us 40 days. Again, 40 days x 24 hours = 960 hours. According to the Karan Ohr Pnei Moshe, this explains how a person can destroy or be mevatel the accusing angels he has created through his sins. If a person uses these 960 hours properly, with the goal of teshuvah, then he has the power of 960 to eradicate even the biryah, the evil identity.
    The Arizal brings a proof from the Gemara that the best time to do teshuvah and eradicate our sins is in the 30 days prior to Rosh Hashanah, in the month of Elul. In Berachos (61a), Rabbi Yochanan says, “Achorei ari ve’lo achorei ishah – Go after a lion and not after a woman.” It is better to walk behind a lion and risk being devoured, than to walk behind a woman and chance sinning. If one is devoured by a lion, he will lose his share in This World, but if he sins with a woman, he will lose his share in the World to Come.
    The Arizal (brought down in Otzar Chemdas Yamim: Chapter 7) says the mazal, zodiac sign, for the month of Av is an ari, a lion (Leo). The mazal for the month of Elul is a besulah, an unmarried woman (Virgo). The mazal for the month of Tishrei is moznayim, a scale (Libra). The Gemara is instructing us: Go – meaning do teshuvah – after the lion, in the month of Elul, which follows Av, whose mazal is a lion; this is preferable to doing teshuvah after the woman, meaning waiting until after the month of Elul to repent. For that would leave us sorely unprepared for our Heavenly trial on Rosh Hashanah, during the month of Tishrei, when Hashem takes out His scale, the moznaim.
    Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa says in Pirkei Avos (3:11), “Kol she’yiras cheto kodemes le’chochmaso chochmaso miskayames, ve’chol she’chochmaso kodemes le’yiras cheto ein chochmaso miskayames – Anyone whose fear of sin precedes his wisdom, his wisdom will endure. And anyone whose wisdom precedes his fear of sin, his wisdom will not endure.”
    My father once interpreted this Mishnah as an exhortation to prepare and do teshuvah in Elul, well before Rosh Hashanah. The Gemara (Shabbos 117b) refers to blowing the shofar as a “chochmah ve’einah melachah – a skill, rather than hard and Biblically forbidden work,” which should be permitted even on Shabbos (although it is not).
    Now let’s reread the Mishnah: “Kol she’yiras cheto kodemes le’chochmaso” – Anyone whose fear of sin, and hence his teshuvah, comes before the blowing of the shofar, which is a chochmah; “chochmaso miskayames” – his chochmah endures, and the blowing of the shofar helps change the decree.
    “Ve’chol she’chochmaso kodemes le’yiras cheto” – But anyone whose blowing of the shofar is performed before he does teshuvah, for he has not prepared for Rosh Hashanah in advance; “ein chochmaso miskayames” – the shofar blowing will not have any effect.
    Do teshuvah now; avoid the holiday rush.

    Reb Eliezer

    The Ben Ish Chai explains the accusatory angels by the passage Yomru hamoshlim bou cheshban, make an accounting of our deeds. What connection does it have to the city of Cheshban? The question is, how can we conquer Sichan when Maov was part of it? Once Sichan conquered Maov, Maov was absorbed in it and became null, a new nation. Similarly, when we do teshuva, we get transformed to a new person and the accusations don’t apply to us.

    Reb Eliezer

    We say in Neilah, you stretch your hand to the wicked. We can look at this where someone is sinking in quicksand and Hashem kavayochal stretches out his hand, telling him to hold on to His hand to be pulled out. The shudders of a store are on the verge of being closed and a person rushes, saying, don’t close it as I want to still buy something.
    There is an argument between the Rambam and the Ramban if teshuva is a mitzva. The Rambam’s view that viduy is the mitzva. He holds that his circumstances will happen to lead him to teshuva. You can’t tell a person to do teshuva when he does not realize that he is doing something wrong, as a person does not see his own faults, whereas the Ramban holds that maybe, his circumstances whether richness or poverty should lead him to doing teshuva.

    Reb Eliezer

    Therefore we should do teshuva in Elul. As the implication by the Rav Avudraham in Uvo letziyon goel ulshovei fesha leyaakov if we want the redemption, we should do teshuva. go’el ul’shovei makes Elul.
    Elul is the time for teshuva and geulah.

    Reb Eliezer

    I once heard that yirah is 1 and chochmah is 0. If you place a 1 before a 0, you can end up with a big number by recognizing the chochmah also, but 01 only recognizes the yirah but not the chochmah.

    Reb Eliezer

    The pasuk above according to the Rabbenu Bachayeh describes the three ways of doing mitzvos, speech, thought and deed. Everything should turn towards the center, machshava, thought, otherwise we have a body without a soul.

    Reb Eliezer

    It says to do teshuva every end of the day, every end of the week, every end of the month or the end the year. The Dubner Magid sees it where you pay as you borrow or an installment plan making it easy to pay off the debt but if we accumulate our debt and pay off at one time by waiting to the last minute, it is not so easy to pay it off.

    crazy horse

    i always do teshuva early, to avoid the holiday rush.

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