Illuminations #90, Elul 5776, Parshat Netzavim

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Illuminations #90, Elul 5776, Parshat Netzavim

Torah Gems

The Rambam, z”l, in his Hilkhot Teshuvah (Laws of Repentance), provides an explanation of the 24 deeds, enumerated by Rabbi Yis-haq Alfasi, a”h, that are an impediment to Teshuvah (repentance). It should be noted that there is no sin for which repentance is not possible, but some sins make it very difficult.

One such sin is when a person causes others to sin. The Gemara (Yoma 87a) tells us that the problem with accepting the Teshuvah of such a person is that he will be forgiven but those who follow his advice will suffer Gehinnam (hell). We must consider this carefully. In order to be able to repent, a person should let all those who were misguided by his advice know that it was an error. But is this at all possible?

Every person who learned from him will have repeated the erroneous Halakha to umpteen other people. They, in turn, will have been watched by umpteen others who also started doing the wrong thing, thinking that it was correct. Some will have moved to California, others will have moved to Australia, and no one knows who they are or where they might be.

One must be extremely careful not to mislead others, be it because one doesn’t like the Halakha, for whatever reason, or be it because one does not know the Halakha, but is still willing to proffer his advice.

Parsha Pearls

כי קרוב אליך הדבר מאד בפיך ובלבבך לעשתו

For the word is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart to do it (Devarim 30:14).

Rabbenu the Hid”a, ‘a”h, says that the two fundamental principles of our religion are watching our speech and humility. These are hinted at in the the letters which are written large in the Pasuk (verse) Shema Yisrael. They are the last letter of the word Shema’, which is Ayin, and the last letter of Ehad, which is Dalet. The Ayin stands for Anava (humility) and the Dalet for Dibbur (speech).

He quotes the Alshich, ‘a”h, who writes that, for our sins, we no longer have the tools of Kappara (atonement) such as the sacrifices that were brought in the Temple, or the Kohen Gadol (high priest) and so on. Today, the only tool we have left is the tongue. But if the tongue is contaminated through inappropriate use, such as Lashon Hara  (bad words, lies, speaking about profane matters on Shabbath and so on), how ?can we use it to serve G-d

One who is truly humble will have all his sins forgiven; humility has the power to nullify all the bad decrees. Additionally, the very fact of being humble assists a person not to sin.

We can now understand the verse in the following manner. The word “Meod” (very) in the verse is an acronym for Moshe, Avraham and David, who were all known for their humility. “In your mouth” refers to the fact that we must watch our speech. “In your heart” refers to the fact that your humility should be in your heart the same way as you appear to be on the outside. “To do it” tells us that if we do these two things we will surely merit to keep the path of the Torah.

Glimpses of Greatness

A talmid once presented an halakhic question to Rav Elyashiv pertaining to a forbidden act which someone had performed. When Rav Elyashiv heard the details, he paled and replied, trembling, “How can someone do such a thing?” He couldn’t bear to hear that a person had acted against the Torah.


Halacha Weekly

Q. If one knows that someone has forgiven one, is it necessary for one to ask them explicitly for forgiveness?

A.  Requesting forgiveness of someone whom one has wronged is a condition of repentance, as it applies between a man and his fellow. There are opinions that, even if the person one has wronged says without being asked that he forgives one explicitly, one still needs to ask forgiveness (Moadim v’Zemanim (1-54) (R. Moshe Sternbuch, Shalita).

Az Nidberu (65) (R. Binyamin Yehoshua, Zilber, Z”L), however, answers that if a person has forgiven him explicitly in general, for example, that he says, “I forgive you for anything you may have done to me,”  from this he means to apply this  also to exempt one from the obligation of requesting forgiveness (and one does not have to ask for forgiveness). However, if he says to him explicitly that he wants to forgive him, but only on the condition that he asks for forgiveness, he is required to ask to be forgiven.