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Monday, September 06, 2010

For Rosh Hashanna

Yesterday, a friend was in the local Hebrew bookstore, and a woman with very little Jewish background was talking to the clerk about the Yamim Noraim.  She said that she knew that Rosh Hashanna is the day of judgment, and Yom Kippur the day of foregiveness, but she said she always wondered why judgment would come before forgiveness.

The question is very good, and was, famously, discussed by Reb Yisrael Salanter.  Coincidentally, yesterday I head what in Telz they call a shiur daas on that topic.  Rabbi Levin said in the name of his wife's grandfather, Reb Chatzkel Levenstein of Ponevezh, an answer in the name of Reb Yitzchak Blahzer.  He said that only after Klal Yisrael is mekabel ol malchus shamayim is it possible to have a day of kapara.  Only after we realize that Hashem is our king, and that by not doing what Hashem wants we are mored bemalchus, then Hashem is willing to be mochel.

I recently saw someone an interesting and relevant mashal that clarifies his idea.  A king sends two servants to do some menial job.  One is very skilled at this work, and does it perfectly, but feels that is an unfair imposition, and so he does it with resentment and a scowl.  The other is not particularly good at this kind of work, but he does it with pride, happy to be able to serve his king.  What is the difference between the two?  Who is the better eved?  The difference is not just who is the better eved.  The first one is not an eved at all, he is a moreid bemalchus.  The second one is a loyal eved.

So it's not just a matter of doing aveiros.  When we do mitzvos, if we do them besimcha, then our actions proclaim that we are avdei Hashem.  If we do the mitzvos, but we do them as if they are a burden, then we are moreid bemalchus.

Reb Chatzkel added that there is a difference between a melech and a talmid chacham.   A talmid chacham has the right to forgo his kavod; machal ahl kvodo, kvodo machul.  A king has no such right; melech shemachal ahl kvodo, ein kvodo machul.  But why can't a king be mochel?  Because his malchus is not his, it is a stewardship granted by the Ribono shel Olam, and the king can't be mochel on what is not his.  The Ribono shel Olam, on the other hand, is a King whose malchus belongs to Him, and so He can be mochel on His kavod.  But the Ribono shel Olam is only willing to be mochel on his kavod for his avadim.  First, we have to be Avdei Hashem.  Only once Klal Yisrael firmly and proudly declares, and demonstrates through their behavior, that Hashem is their king, only then is Hashem willing to be mochel ahl kvodo.  After Rosh Hashanna, when Klal Yisrael is mamlich the Ribono shel Olam, only then Hashem chooses to be mochel ahl kvodo.  Only then is the mechilla of Yom Kippur possible.

In fact, we can say that asking for kapara on Rosh Hashanna would be contrary to the idea of Malchus.  Why should a melech be mochel?  A melech is makpid that his servants do his will with pride and alacrity.  Bringing up our failings and asking that they be dismissed diminishes the whole concept of Malchus.

This enables us to discuss another question.  The Gemara in Bava Kamma 50a says "One who says Hashem is a "Vatran," his life will be mevutar.  In other words, one who says that Hashem dismisses sin, may his life be dismissed.  The point of the Gemara is that Hashems's justice is immutable and inexorable.  So how canYom Kippur bring forgiveness?  Isn't clemency a waiver?  The answer is that just as the Rama MiPano said that the din of Rove is not vitur
  (עשרה מאמרות היקוד דין ח״א ט*ם)
שהקשה הלא קיימא לן כל האומר הקב״ח וותרן הוא וכוי, וקיימא לן במשפט הקדוש לאל איום
 מי שרובו זכיות וטיעוט עונות נקרא צדיק ויצא בדימום, מהצה על מהצה הש״י כובש נושא
מעביר ראשון ראשון, וקשה הלא אפילו במיעומ עונות נקרא ויתור כיון שמוותרין לו עונות שבידו,
ותירץ הרב הקדוש הנ״ל, שאינו נקרא ויתור רק כשמוותרין שלא כמשפטי התורה, אבל מה שנמצא
כך במשפטי התורה בעולם הזה לא נקרא ויתור
If so, we can say that the din of Yom Kippur, even if it is mechapeir without teshuva, is that once Klal Yisrael as a whole is Mamlich the Ribono shel Olam, Hashem is mochel to His avadim.  This is a din, a result of what we do on Rosh Hashanna, and not vitur.

And what is the best way to be makabel ol malchus shamayim?  Chazal say that it is through Malchiyos, Zichronos, and Shofros.  But I like to say over the Tanchuma in Parshas Tzav, which I think is also key to kabalas ol malchus shamayim:

שאין תשובה לפני הקב״ת יותר מן הודייה

Perhaps we can apply the Tanchuma to the Gemara in Brachos as well:

ויאמר אני אעביר כל טובי על פניך ונו' וחנותי את אשר

אחון, ורחמתי את אשר ארחם.שמות לג יט

וחנותי את אשר אחון : אע״פ שאינו הגון. ורחמתי את
אשד ארחם : אע״פ שאינו הגון.
(ברכות ז א׳)
What's the shaichus of Hashem being ma'avir kol tuvo, and the kapara?  Maybe the pshat is that w
hen a person realizes Chasdei Hashem and the opportunities Hashem has given him as a gift, then Hashem will be meracheim on him, even if he doesn't deserve it.  Hakaras Hatov is the key to Yiras Shamayim and to Kapara.

Once again, we see the idea of Gilu bir'ada, that Rosh Hashanna's avoda is to rejoice and to fear, to rejoice that Hashem allows us to serve Him as His avadim, and to fear His judgment.  A person who is properly mekabel ol malchus shamayim is in a position that enables the kapara of Yom Kippur.

Which brings us back to the Ibn Gabirol we once discussed.

אלהי, אם עוני מנשוא גדול
מה תעשה לשמך הגדול
ואם לא אוחיל לרחמיך
מי יחוס עלי חוץ ממך
לכן אם תקטלני לך איחל
ואם תבקש לעוני
אברח ממך אליך
ואתכסה מחמתך בצלך
ובשולי רחמיך אחזיק
עד אם רחמתני
ולא אשלחך כי אם ברכתני


m said...

as we say - לקונה עבדיו בדין

a g'mar chasimah tovah to you and yours, and thank you for providing such a wonderful source of mind-boggling bekius. keep it up in good health, with much nachas and מרוב כול

b said...

Thank you, and the same to you and yours.

As for my bekius, I had the dubious fortune of growing up and learning among people who have ten times more Torah than me in their pinky. That is not an exaggeration. By their standards, my best efforts rarely rise to adequacy. I often visualize Rav Bakst, Rav Rudderman, and Reb Moshe reading my work, shrugging, and using the paper to wrap fish. At best. And my peers are similarly far beyond me, like Tzvi Berkowitz and Moshe Brown and Yossi Kalatsky and Eliezer Breitowitz. But it's the best I can do, and I appreciate your compliment.