Parashat Vayelech/Yom Kippur
Dedicated in Honor of my wife Brenda by Elliot Antebi
Parashat Vayelech/Yom Kippur
The parasha opens up, "Vayelech Moshe vayedaber et hadevariim haeleh el Kol Yisrael...Vayomer alehem Ben meah veesriim Shanah anoochi hayom..." which means, "Moshe went and spoke these words to B'nei Yisrael, I am a hundred and twenty years old today...". Moshe knew that he wouldn't be able to enter the land of Israel as Hashem told him earlier despite his praying 515 times for Hashem to reconsider. The only reason that Moshe wanted to enter the land was not for his own pride but rather to be able to perform those mitzvot that we can only do in Eretz Yisrael.
We are now approaching the upcoming Holiday of Yom Kippur. Hashem knows that we're all human beings and that we are falable and as humans we will sin but Hashem gave us the great gift of Teshuvah so that every year we can pray with our hearts to Hashem and He will forgive us and grant us another year of life. So now that we can understand that Hashem is and has always been there for us to protect us, as He has done since Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov....let's prepare for that awesome and Great day of Yom Kippur that's approaching! Hashem loves us so much, that he gave us a holiday that we can atone for all of our sins that we have done over the course of this past year, whether they were done on purpose or done by accident. Either way, the most important thing to do is to admit when we sin. When Adam ate from the Etz Hadaat and Hashem asked him about it, he blamed Chava. When Cayin killed his brother Hevel and Hashem asked him “Where’s Hevel?” Cayin answered...”Am I my brothers keeper?” We have to learn from David Hamelech, who said as soon as Natan the prophet told him that he had sinned...David admitted it right away and did not look to make excuses or to not accept the blame on himself. Later he wrote in Tehelim (51;5)..."I acknowledge, that my transgressions and my sins are always before me."
Rabbi Akiva says in the Mishnah (8;9)..."Praiseworthy are you Israel, before whom do you cleanse yourselves? As its stated...Who cleanses you? Your father in Heaven! As its stated: And I will sprinkle pure water upon you and you shall be cleansed; and He also says: The Mikveh of Israel is Hashem. Just as a Mikveh purifies the contaminated, so does Hashem purify Israel". What Rabbi Akiva is saying is that just as we may go and submerge our whole body in a Mikveh to make a complete change? Its enough that we just sprinkle the pure water on us which means that we make small changes like a sprinkling of small drops of water. Rabbi Akiva is saying from this mishnah, just take upon ourselves to make small changes of growth each year which will have a tremendous impact on our growth throughout our lifetime.
We know that Yom Kippur will only atone for the sins between man and Hashem but we also must also acknowledge our sins between man and our fellow man, which Yom Kippur will not help us for. We have to make sure that we clear up any disputes that we may have with our fellow Jews. In Rambam's Hilchot Teshuvah (2nd perek teshuvah 9) it says there....."Teshuvah and Yom Kippur only atone for sins between man and God”, like if you ate unkosher or didn't keep the Shabbat. However, sins between man and man, as an example, if you injured or stole from someone or as simple as even if you embarrassed your friend in public.....you will never be forgiven for those sins until you pay back what you owe or apologize and appease your friend to his satisfaction!
Chacham Ovadia A'h, quotes a chazal that says, if a person doesn't satisfy and appease his friend if he had sinned against him, then Hashem may not accept his atonement between man and Hashem on Yom Kippur! That's a very strong statement.....and it just shows how important it is for us to get along with our neighbor and fellow Jew!
It says in masechet Rosh Hashanah (17a)...Rava said, "Kol hamaveir al medotav, maavereyn lo Kol pashav" which means..."Anyone who relinquishes his measures of retribution" Rashi comments there that anyone who tolerantly drops the entire matter that's in dispute and goes on his way......"The Heavenly tribunal courts will relinquish all his sins for him". In other words, "The one who doesn't judge others and is able to walk away......the courts in Heaven will also judge him favorably!”
The fact that Hashem gave us this opportunity to make teshuva and repent for our sins between us and Hashem and between our fellow man it is incumbent upon us to take advantage of that opportunity. There's a story in Gemarah Yoma (87;a) to illustrate this point. “When Rav Zeira would have grounds for a grievance against someone, he would repeatedly pass by the offender, thereby making himself available to him to appease him and ask forgiveness. Rav had grounds for grievance against a certain butcher and the butcher had not come by to ask forgiveness. So on the day before Yom Kippur Rav went by the butcher to make himself noticed in order to affect a reconciliation. When the butcher noticed Rav, he said Go away, I have nothing to discuss with you! He said this as he was breaking the bones of the animal’s head. A bone then shot out and hit him in the throat and the butcher died on the spot! What this story is teaching is that when you have the opportunity to appease your friend and make peace, take advantage of the opportunity!
I heard an amazing story recently from Rabbi Yoel Gold about a man we’ll call Moshe. On this one night Moshe pulled up to a wedding hall in Brooklyn with his wife. It was looking to be a very busy night already and he knew that no matter the cost, valet parking is worth it. He pulled up behind the car in front of him and waited patiently but after a few minutes of not moving Moshe stuck his head out the window and noticed the couple in the car in front of him who he recognized as Carol and her husband Steve were schmoozing with an old friend standing next to their car. So Moshe honked softly, to try and get their attention, but Carol continued to schmooze. So Moshe continued to gently honk but there was no response so he said to himself maybe they’re not going to the wedding, so he pulled around them and gave his keys to the valet to park his car to proceed entering the wedding hall.
Ten minutes later as Moshe was having a good time with his friends in the hall. As he turned around he noticed Carol and her husband heading towards him not looking very happy at all. When they approached him, Carol let him have it. She said Moshe, that really wasn’t a very nice thing to do and how inconsiderate and rude it was for you to cut us off and especially because you took the last spot of valet parking so we were forced to park three blocks away. Of course, nothing that Moshe would say could calm them down and they walked away in a huff and puff. Moshe felt terrible.
Fast forward five months later, it’s Erev Yom Kippur and Carol gets a phone call from Moshe. She was very surprised but wasn’t going to be rude and hang up. Moshe explained to her that every Erev Yom Kippur he sits down and tries to think back if there’s anyone who might have been hurt by something he said or did. So he asked Carol...”Do you remember many months ago we had an issue where I took your spot, and I know you were very angry and I understand it and I want to ask your forgiveness”. Carol said, “Of course, and forgive me for the way I spoke to you, let it be forgotten”. He says, fine no problem. And we hung up, it was right before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we felt it was the right thing to do, we were both very happy that it was aired out.
A few years later Carol received a call from a Shadchan, suggesting a Shiduch for her son Joey. When Carol heard the name of the girl, her heart skipped a beat. Sarah, Moshe’s daughter. Carol and her husband looked at each other, we have no problem with that and let the shiduch go through.
Several months later, Joey and Sarah were married. Carol and Moshe were officially related through their children. After the wedding, Moshe was talking to his wife and said, “just imagine if that call wasn’t made, they would have a right to say, what, Moshe...is that who we want in our family? And now instead we are blessed because of that Erev Yom Kippur call to ask Mehila”.
Years later, Moshe looks back and remembers it all started off with a simple phone call which led to a beautiful shiduch for their daughter and their two wonderful families living in harmony when if not for that call asking for forgiveness, it could have been a lot of hurt feelings and possibly a lost shiduch.
Moshe remembers it took a lot of courage and humility to pick up the phone to make that call, especially when he believed he was right. But he felt he did something wrong in their eyes so he didn’t hold onto his pride and didn’t care who was right, just realized they felt hurt and for that Moshe knew it was the right thing to ask for forgiveness.
Over the next few days, take an opportunity. Pick up the phone and make the call to a family member, a neighbor, an old friend who might have been hurt by something you said or did, I guarantee you will feel better about yourself. But more importantly you will generate all the blessings Hashem has in store for you this coming year. Amen!
May we all realize the amazing gift of Yom Kippur that Hashem gave all of us.....Let's take advantage of this wonderful opportunity, to get closer to Hashem and our fellow Jew in order to make a complete Atonement for all of our sins.....Amen!
Shabbat Shalom and Tizku Leshanim Rabot!
Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey
Eliyahu Ben Rachel Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher
Sarah Bat Chanah Esther Bat Sarah
Shulamit Bat Helaina Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana
Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther Rafael Ben Miriam
Rav Haim Ben Rivka Moshe Ben Mazal
Yitzchak Ben Adele Avraham Ben Mazal
Chanah Bat Esthe Ovadia Ben Esther
Moshe Ben Garaz Rahamim Ben Mazal
Avraham Ben Garaz Avraham Ben Mazal
Yaakov Ben Rachel Avraham Ben Kami
Meir Ben Latifa Moshe Ben Yael
Malka Bat Garaz Mordechai Ben Rachel
Yaakov Ben Leah
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