Friday, September 3, 2010

Starting a new year - Rosh Hashana

The possuk says in this week’s sedrah:
וְשַׁבְתָּ עַד ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ וְשָׁמַעְתָּ בְקֹלוֹ כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם אַתָּה וּבָנֶיךָ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשֶׁךָ.
“You should return to Hashem your G-d and you should listen to His voice as all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your hearts and all your souls.”

It is a mitzva to do teshuva, specifically during the aseres yemei teshuvah. Teshuvah is comprised of three parts – viduy, charatah and kabbalah le’habah. The question is asked, why we do not say vidui in the davening on Rosh haShanah. If this is the start of the aseres yemei teshuvah then we should say al chet in shemonei esrei just as we do on Yom Kippur?

Lefum tza’arah agra
The Rambam says in Hilchos Teshuvah (7:4)
...אמרו חכמים מקום שבעלי תשובה עומדין אין צדיקים גמורין יכולין לעמוד בו כלומר מעלתן גדולה ממעלת אלו שלא חטאו מעולם מפני שהן כובשים יצרם יותר מהם
“The Chachamim said, in the place that baalei teshuva stand – a tzaddik gamur cannot stand. In other words – the level of the baal teshuva is greater than that of the tzaddik who never did an aveirah. This is because baal teshuvah conquer their yetzer more than tzaddikim. [Once the baal teshuva does the aveira it is more difficult for him not to repeat it.]”

Rav Yitzchok Hutner z”l (Pachad Yitzchak, Yom Kippur 19) asks;
How can the Rambam say that a baal teshuvah is greater than a tzaddik because it is harder for him to conquer his yetzer (after he has already done the aveirah)? The Ohr Yisroel (maamar 8) says that even although the mishna in pirkei avos says - לפום צערא אגרא the reward is commensurate to the effort, that is only for difficulties which the person was not responsible for. However if a person brings difficulties upon himself he is not rewarded for overcoming them because he should never have brought the difficulty on himself in the first place.

If so, why is the baal teshuva rewarded for conquering his yetzer? He never should have done the aveira initially and then he wouldn’t have the additional challenge?

Rav Hutner asks a similar question on the gemara in Yuma (86b). The gemara says:
...בא וראה שלא כמדת הקדוש ברוך הוא מדת בשר ודם ...אבל הקב"ה אדם עובר עבירה בסתר מתפייס ממנו בדברים שנאמר  (הושע יד, ג) קחו עמכם דברים ושובו אל ה' ולא עוד אלא שמחזיק לו טובה שנאמר וקח טוב ולא עוד אלא שמעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו הקריב פרים שנאמר  (הושע יד, ג) ונשלמה פרים שפתינו שמא תאמר פרי חובה ת"ל  (הושע יד, ה) ארפא משובתם אוהבם נדבה
“Come and see that the way of Hashem is not the same as the way of flesh and blood..
If a person does an aveirah in secret Hashem is appeased by him through words as it says ‘Take for yourselves words and return to Hashem’,
not only that but Hashem considers Himself indebted to him as if for a favour, as it says ‘and take good’
not only that but the possuk considers it as if he has brought a bull as a korban to the beis hamikdosh as it says ‘and we will pay bulls with our lips’.
In case you will say this refers to bulls brought through an obligation, the possuk says ‘I will heal their backsliding, He loves their voluntary korban’.”

When a person does teshuva it is considered as if he has brough a korban nedavah – a voluntary korban.

Rashi explains:
נדבה – מקובלת ברצון יותר מחובה
“A nedavah is accepted with more good will than a obligatory korban.”

Rav Hutner asks: Why is teshuva considered as a voluntary korban – certainly a person who does an aveirah is obligated to not continue doing it? There is no greater obligation than this?

The 13 middos harachamim
The gemara says in Rosh haShana (17b):
...ה' ה', אני הוא קודם שיחטא האדם ואני הוא לאחר שיחטא האדם ויעשה תשובה
“[The first two of the 13 middos harachamim are Hashem, Hashem. The gemara asks why these are repeated and explains:]
  I am Hashem before the person does an aveira and I am He after the person does an aveira and does teshuva.”

The name Hashem was used to create the world; the possuk says in Bereishis:
בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹקִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ.
In the beginning Elokim created the heaven and the earth.

Rashi explains:
בָּרָא אֱלֹקִים" – ולא אמר "בָּרָא ה'". שבתחילה עלה במחשבה לברואתו במידת הדין; ראה שאין העולם מתקיים, הקדים מידת רחמים ושיתפה למידת הדין. היינו דכתיב (להלן ב ד): "בְּיוֹם עֲשׂוֹת ה' אֱלֹקִים אֶרֶץ וְשָׁמָיִם".
“The possuk says ‘Elokim created’ and not ‘Hashem created.”
Originally Hashem thought to create the world with the middas hadin, He saw that the world would not be able to exist in this way, he therefore brought the middas harachamim forward and joined it together with the middas hadin. This is why the passuk says later in Bereishis ‘On the day that Hashem Elokim created the earth and the heavens’.”

We see that the name of Hashem was used to create the world. If so, how can the gemara say that the two names of Hashem refer to before the person did the aveira and after he did an aveira and teshuva? Each name of Hashem refers to a whole world, and there is only one world which exists before the chet and after teshuvah? What do the two names of Hashem refer to?

Furthermore, why is the first name of Hashem part of the 13 middos harachamim? Why does a person need the middos harachamim before he has done a chet?

Two lives
Rav Hutner explains as follows:
·         After a person does teshuva, he is an entirely new person, it is as if the chet never occurred. This can only happen of the person is considered to be an entirely new person. It is as if the person has a new lease on life from Hashem, which is why there is a new shem Hashem that applies after teshuvah. Hashem made the world so that even if a person were to do an aveirah, they would still have the ability to entirely recreate their life as if the aveira had never occurred. That is why the first shem Hashem is part of the 13 middos harachamim because it denotes the extra flexibility that is available to a person.

·         Because a person is considered to be someone new after doing teshuvah - the difficulty that he has in not doing the aveira again is given to him as a reward. It is not considered that he caused himself the difficulty, because he is not the same person as he was when he did the chet.

·         This is also why the passuk says “אוהבם נדבה” – teshuvah is considered as a korban nedavah – because with regards to his current status – he never caused his orginal downfall of doing the aveirah.

Rosh haShana is the first of the aseres yemei teshuvah, but we do not mention any chatoim on it. This is because the beginning of teshuvah is starting anew. When we recall the creation of the world with the name of Hashem, we start our lives anew which is the pre-requisite to teshuvah.

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