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11 Tishrei, 5782 - September 17, 2021 | Mordecai Plaut, director | Bereishis- 5781 Published Weekly
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Save Animal and Man on Yom Kippur

What will we take with us to Yom Kippur? What justification can we offer in exchange for atonement?

The Ohr HaChaim Hakodosh says: "One of the defenses a person can present in the hope of being acquitted on the Day of Judgment is that he did not sin with a complacent heart." Even though he will be charged and punished for every gram of improper thoughts, still, his judgment will be lighter if he did not commit the sins wholeheartedly (Ki Siso 32 31).











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From Our Archives

Portraying The Past And Ensuring The Future: HaRav Yitzchok Isaac Halevi Rabinowitz, zt'l, Author Of Doros Horishonim

by Moshe Musman and Yated Ne'eman Staff

Part I


He was a gaon in every area of Torah. The intricacies of both the Bavli and the Yerushalmi, of all the midroshim of Chazal and of the works of the Rishonim, were spread open before him in all clarity. He wrote his magnum opus, the eight-volume Doros Horishonim, which contains thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of references to ma'amorei Chazal and statements of the Rishonim, without using any seforim. He wrote during the daytime, citing every quote from memory, "bereft of all good and lacking any seforim," as he himself put it. Only at night did he have the opportunity to check the accuracy of the sources that he had mentioned (as we will explain in greater detail later).

The breadth of his knowledge was matched by depth. Sharpness and penetration enhanced his comprehensive grasp. Contemporary gedolim referred to him as, "[Both] Sinai (a repository of the entire Torah) and an uprooter of mountains (possessing tremendous mental acuity)."

He also possessed a gift for leadership and for sensing the needs of the times. He was revered by the leaders of his time, whom he joined in the difficult task of navigating Torah Jewry through the increasingly serious challenges of the modern era. Whether sitting in his spacious room in Vilna, or by his small table in Hamburg, he was aware of what was transpiring across the lands of Jewish Europe, away to the farthest reaches of the Jewish world. He gazed both backwards, over thousands of years of Jewish history, and forwards, from the grave spiritual threats of the immediate present into the unclear and worrying future. He led, supervised and laid plans, calling upon gedolei Yisroel to participate in the measures that were necessary in order to save Klal Yisroel from the inclemencies of the times.

He is a hard figure for us to evaluate. Every godol beTorah is unique but he is unique even among gedolim. Our usual frame of reference for contemplating the life of a great rov or rosh yeshiva, is of limited use in his case. He was a pivotal figure in the Torah world, playing a crucial role in the fight to stop haskoloh from infiltrating traditional Torah chinuch yet his accomplishments were mostly achieved behind the scenes. For all his public involvement, his name rarely went on record.

Becoming Tohor on Yom Kippur

by HaRav Mordechai Gifter

The Time of Our Tohoroh

Hashem gave yomim tovim to plant certain principles firmly within every Jew's nefesh -- the fundamental idea that each particular yom tov teaches us. Optimal observance of the yomim tovim also involves our knowing and understanding their principal message. The Anshei Knesses HaGedolah therefore laid down a fixed text of tefilloh for each yom tov according to its essence: Pesach, the time of our freedom; Shavuos, the time we were given the Torah; Succos, the time of our rejoicing; Rosh Hashonoh, the day for blowing the shofar; Yom Kippur, a day dedicated to atonement and forgiveness (mechiloh, selichoh, kaporoh).

The basis for asserting that Yom Kippur's essence is a day of atonement and forgiveness is an explicit posuk: "For on this day He will be mechapeir you, to be metaheir you, that you may be tohor from all your sins before Hashem" (Vayikra 16:30). The Torah determined very clearly that Yom Kippur's avodas hayom -- the prohibition to do melochos and our obligation to fast -- has one central point: the power of kaporoh embodied in that day which brings about tohoroh.

Fulfilling the obligatory mitzvos of any yom tov helps us to entrench within ourselves the fundamental principle that yom tov teaches. It is consequently quite reasonable that someone who makes an explicit, conscious effort to instill the principle within himself performs a different avodoh altogether from someone who does not have this in mind. The first person's fulfillment of the yom tov's mitzvos has a different content from that of someone who does the mitzvos without knowledge of their objective.

This is our avodoh on Yom Kippur: aiming at the objective, which is atonement and forgiveness. Doing the mitzvos of Yom Kippur while we are guided by that aim makes kaporoh become a kinyan in our soul. This is, of course, dependent upon the individual effort a person puts into doing the mitzvos of Yom Kippur.

They Were Twelve Hundred

by Rabbi M. D. Weinstock

Editor's Note: This story is taken from a small pamphlet published some years ago by the author. In the words of one commentator, this and the other stories show clearly "how Jewish spirituality acted as a counterforce to Nazi bestiality." Writing in the Jewish Observer, Rabbi Joseph Elias said the stories are written from the "inside" of the Jew, making them more authentic.

In our day they give us some perspective on the suffering our people has known, and the example set by our fathers that should inspire us to teshuvoh sheleimoh. There is no doubt that saying the Lamnatzei'ach seven times before blowing the Shofar will be quite a different experience for anyone who has read this moving story. *

To the memory of the martyrs of Auschwitz

Few New Year's Days, few Rosh Hashonohs, such as this one have been recorded in history.

The Jew who found a Shofar -- nobody knew where -- and held it in his hand, ran almost frenziedly from one group to the other between the barracks. He blew the Shofar as prescribed in the rules, with the teki'os, shevorim, teru'os. Never has such a tearful sound reached the ears of man. The sound of the Shofar rose towards the skies weeping, begging for forgiveness, demanding salvation.


by Sudy Rosengarten

A short but very gripping account of death and life.

The children were eating supper in the hall that they used as a dinette because the kitchen was so small. Leah was diapering nine- month-old Mindy in the bedroom... The phonograph was on and Naomi was humming along in the kitchen, where she'd started cleaning up. She was so happy to have finally gotten to Israel. Now her children would grow up in the Holy Promised Land.

"Ma!" The cry was Leah's and the sound of that one syllable was so terrifying that Naomi froze and couldn't move.

"Ma!" The cry was now a screech, and Leah, white and trembling, carried Mindy, struggling to breathe, into the hall.

"Ma! The baby!" all the children cried, covering their faces not to see the horrible sight. "Ma, quick! Ma! Mindy!"

Naomi ran out of the kitchen, grabbed the child from Leah. Her mind raced wildly. Aharon wouldn't be home for another two hours. What was she supposed to do? She ran to the door, wrenched it open and screamed.


These links were fixed, Tammuz 5781