Illuminations #130, Tishrei 5778, Parshat Ha’azinu

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Illuminations #130, Tishrei 5778, Parshat Ha’azinu

Torah Gems

Chazal relate to us the following penetrating story (Yoma 87a): There was once a butcher who pained the great sage, Rav; yet nevertheless, he never came to request to be forgiven. When it came erev Yom Kippur and he still hadn’t come, Rav decided to take the initiative and make himself available for the butcher to be able to ask to be pardoned. Rav walked to his shop – hoping that the butcher would indeed ask; however, Rav’s hopes were for naught. Upon seeing Rav, the butcher blurted out, “You?! Get out; I have nothing to do with you!” Unfortunately, he immediately met his untimely death. After Rav left and the butcher gave one more blow to chop his meat, a bone dislodged, hit him in his neck and he died. From here, said Rav Itzele Petteburger in his sefer titled Kochvei Ohr, there is a tremendously great lesson for us to learn: During these days, the times of mercy and selichos, Hakadosh Baruch Hu presents Himself to us so that we can ask Him to forgive us for all of our actions of this past year, and so on. As Chazal elucidate on the passuk (Yeshayahu 55:6): “Seek Hashem when He can be found; call upon Him when He is near,” to refer to the ten days starting from Rosh Hashanah and concluding with Yom Kippur. Let us contemplate: If this butcher was punished so severely – being killed on the spot, because he more than ignored Rav when he made himself available, how much more so, if one would not try to do teshuvah when the King of all kings, Hakadosh Baruch Hu, makes Himself available during these days, to make it easier for us to approach Him and come close to Him. What punishment should await such a person?! Rav Shabsi Yudelevitch, zt”l, cites the following Midrash to bring out this point (Yalkut Shimoni 508): There was once a tourist who lost his way and met a field watchman. This watchman, realizing that the sun would soon set, kindly invited this tourist to come and spend the night in his dinky hut. “Although it does not have all the luxuries of a hotel,” the watchman continued, “it will shelter you from the wild animals and bandits.” The tourist retorted that he as all tourists do not stay in anything less than a five star hotel. As the night grew darker, and one could very clearly hear the howling and cries of the wild beasts, our tourist understandably had a change of heart. However, much to his dismay, the watchman refused! He said that he as all watchmen do not open their hut for anyone late at night! When I wanted you didn’t want, now that you want, I don’t want! “So said Hakadosh Baruch Hu to Yisrael: Shuvu banim shovavim – “Return, O wayward sons!” (Yirmiyahu 3:14); Dirshu Hashem Behima’tzao – “Seek Hashem when He can be found!” (Yeshayahu 55:6), at that time not one of them requested to return… after they were given into the hands of other kingdoms who are analogous to wild animals – they begin to cry, “Why does Hashem stand from a distance?…” Now is the time!!! The Pesikta writes (41:5): “So said Hakadosh Baruch Hu, do teshuvah during these ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and I will privilege you on Yom Kippur and create you anew!” Hashem is anxiously waiting for us to at least try!! Let us not disappoint Hashem, or ourselves. A person can accomplish with his tefillot and the like during these days what would take him many, many more during the rest of the year!

Parsha Pearls

Although of course one must try to perform teshuvah on every individual sin, the main component of teshuvah is to return and come close to Hashem, as the passuk says, “And return till Hashem your G-d.” Rav Vachtfogel, zt”l, always used to quote the following Midrash (Pesikta Drav Kehana): “So said Hakadosh Baruch Hu to Yisrael, ‘are you embarrassed to do teshuvah? I will do teshuvah first,’ as the passuk states, ‘So said Hashem, behold I am returning.’” What did Hashem do? Certainly He did not sin?! Why does He need to do teshuvah? Explained Rav Vachtfogel, from here we see that there is a level of teshuvah that has nothing to do with sin. The foundation of teshuvah is to become close! Hakadosh Baruch Hu wants to become close to us and that is His teshuvah. In fact, Rav Sadya Gaon said that if a person did teshuvah, and then stumbled again, his teshuvah still remains forever and ever! Why? Explains Rav Vachtfogel, because teshuvah is to become close; and that closeness that you achieved remains!

Glimpses of Greatness

In the beginning of his married life, Rav Shach and his family rented an apartment in Yerushalayim from Reb Alter Shub. Although Rav Shach paid rent for his living quarters, he nonetheless felt gratitude towards the Shub family for conferring this benefit to him. Rav Shach considered it his duty to treat the Shub family exceptionally well, even extending this treatment to the family’s offspring. Many years after Rav Shach moved to Bnei Brak, it happened that some of Reb Alter Shub’s grandchildren found themselves in Bnei Brak late one evening, without means of transportation available to take them home to Jerusalem.

Rav Shach was overjoyed to host them in his home for the night as a way of expressing his gratitude to his “landlord,” as he referred to Reb Alter.  Rebbetzin Guttel Shach later quietly told the guests that Rav Shach had been planning to go out somewhere that night, but because of the mitzvah of hospitality and Hakarat Hatov (gratitude) that had come his way, he had stayed at home.

Halacha Weekly

Is it Necessary to Ask Forgiveness From Parents on Erev Yom Kippur? (2-19-414)

Yom Kippur does not atone for sins between a man and his fellow. Therefore, before Yom Kippur one should ask the people one knows for forgiveness for anything one may have done to offend or hurt them. Is it also necessary to ask forgiveness from one’s parents? There  are reasons to ask forgiveness but there are reasons also that it may not be necessary to do so.

Ben Ish Chai (R. Yosef Chaim Z”L, Shanah 1- Vayeleich – 6) says there are those who are accustomed to request forgiveness on Erev Yom Kippur from their parents  that perhaps one caused them trouble or acted disrespectfully to them during the year.  Kaf haChaim (R. Yaakov Chaim Sofer Z”L, there -44) writes likewise.  Yosef Ometz (Chidah, R. Chaim Yosef David Azulai Z”L,ot 999)  writes that one does not need to appease his parent even if one knows one has done something wrong to them. [If one acted without intent or troubled them accidentally their love covers over all transgressions and one does not need to appease them.]