Illuminations #45, Elul 5775, Parshat Netzavim

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Illuminations #45, Elul 5775, Parshat Netzavim

Torah Gems

The gemara in Rosh Hashana says anybody who overcomes his middos, Hashem forgives him for all his sins. This is explained to mean that on Rosh Hashana Hashem judges each one of us according to their actions. It seems that this gemara  is telling us that a person has a way out of this judgement. If a friend wrongs him and he feels rightfully that he should be able to take revenge and he overcomes his middah and completely forgives his friend, that person Hashem forgives for all of his sins without judging his actions. What is the connection between these two things? Why would a person overcoming this middah of revenge and forgiving a friend lead to Hashem forgiving all his sins? Simply, it can be understood that someone who does this can say to Hashem, “Just like I overcame my middah of judgement and forgave my friend, so Hashem can forgive me, too.” Perhaps we can offer another explanation. We all know that the theme of Rosh Hashana is that we are accepting Hashem as our King. Hashem is King not just over individuals, but over the entire nation. R’ Shimon Bar Yochai likens this to a king who builds a palace on two boats. As long as the boats are together it can hold the palace. But neither boat can hold the entire palace by itself. So if one of the boats moves the entire palace falls into the water. This means that if B’nei Yisroel is functioning with achdus as a unit then there is a place for Hashem’s Malchus. But the less unity there is within us, the less of  a place there is for Hashem’s Kingship.  Perhaps with this we can understand that when one forgives his friend who wronged him and bears no resentment towards him he is creating more unity in B’nei Yisroel, thereby creating more of a place for Hashem’s Malchus over us. And by Hashem having a place for His Malchus, it enables us to accept His Malchus on Rosh Hashana. So someone who creates this place for Hashem is enabling the whole Malchus of Hashem to exist over B’nei Yisroel, which is the concept of Rosh Hashana. Therefore, a person like this will surely pass through the judgement of Rosh Hashana. May we all unite as one by each of us individually using our unique capabilities to serve Hashem in the best way possible, thereby bringing the ultimate Malchus Shamayim. May we all be zoche to a ksiva v’chasima tovah.


Parsha Pearls

The gemara in Megillah tells us that Ezra established that the parshiyos of Ki Savo and Nitzavim are always read before Rosh Hashana. This is because the tochachos and curses are in these parshiyos. So we hope that the year should end and so should the curses. However, parshas Vayelech can be read after Rosh Hashana (like this year). Rav Shimshon Pinkus asks that there is a pasuk in parashas Vayelech in which Hashem says, “I will hide, I will hide my face.” It says I will hide twice because we are going to be so lost that Hashem will “hide” and we won’t even realize He is “hiding.” Hashem will punish us and we won’t even realize He is punishing us. Chazal say there is no time that is as hard as this time. Why is this pasuk any less of a curse than any of the other curses in the other parshiyos? Chazal seem to say that this is the worst. So why can this be read after Rosh Hashana? Rav Shimshon answers that the following pasuk says, “I’ve written for you this song [referring to the Torah] to teach to B’nei Yisroel to be in their mouths.” This pasuk is teaching us that no matter how far and how hidden we are from Hashem we can always do teshuva by learning and toiling over the Torah. We can always reconnect to Hashem through the Torah and become as close to Hashem as we once were. Since Hashem gives us an unbelievable cure to always connect to Him, we can even read about the darkest of moments knowing that as long as we toil in Torah, learn Torah and live in the way of Torah, we will be zoche to ultimate closeness with Hashem. May we all go into Rosh Hashana and Aseres Yimei Teshuva trying to live according to Torah, thus meriting the ultimate closeness to Hashem.


Glimpses of Greatness

The Chozeh from Lublin was known for his ruach hakodesh to be able to tell what someone had davened for during the Yamim Noraim and what Hashem answered. One time a person came to him after Yom Kippur challenging the Chozeh to tell him what he had asked for. The Chozeh told him that he had davened that even though he was learning in all his spare time he shouldn’t have to work as hard so he can have more time to learn. Seeing that the Chozeh really knew, trembling, the person asked what Hashem had decided. The Chozeh said that Hashem decided that the few hours of learning that you do now requires such self sacrifice that it is more precious than if you would have more time to learn but with less self sacrafice. While we all want to be able to accomplish as much as we can for Hashem and we always have a desire to do more (which is correct), we must keep in mind that the most precious thing to Hashem is that we fill our hours and days with Avodas Hashem to the utmost of our capabilities.


Halacha Weekly

Q: What is hatarat nedarim (Nullification of Vows) about?
A: In the Sefer Shach Al HaTorah it is written that the remez (hint) from the Torah that one needs to do hatarat nedarim in the month of Elul is from the verse Lo YechaL devaroU kechaL HayotzEi, “He shall not delay to fulfill his words, everything that leaves his mouth he shall fulfill,”  the ending letters of this verse being ELUL. And the reason is that before we enter the Day of Judgment we should not have the sin of (unfulfilled) vows on our hands.
1-If one does not have time to do hatarat nedarim on Erev (Eve of ) Rosh Hashanah one can do it the night before.
2-One cannot make somebody his or her agent to do hatarat nedarim for them; a wife CAN make her husband an agent to perform hatarat nedarim for her.
3- There are different customs regarding hatarat nedarim. Some perform hatarat nedarim only on Erev (Eve of) Rosh Hashanah. Some do hatarat nedarim on Erev (Eve of ) Yom Kippur and Erev (Eve of) Rosh Hashanah.
4- A child that is a minor cannot be (a judge) taking part in the beit din (religious court) for hatarat nedarim, but family members can sit as judges together in a beit din for hatarat nedarim.


In loving memory of Yosef Ben Vida, ז”ל 

By Rabbi and Mrs. Hayyim Kassorla