Posts Tagged ‘Yom Kippur’

6
Oct

Mistakes: Tafalnu Sheker

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before God! Why did you bring God’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of God appeared to them. God said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

So Moses took the staff from God’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

But God said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to sanctify Me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with God and where He was proved holy among them (Numbers 20:2-13).”

Although the verse describes the place as where God, “was proved only among them,” we are still told that God was angry with Moses and Aaron for their failure to, “sanctify Me in the eyes of the Children of Israel.” the sanctification of God’s Name was less, Taful, then it would have been had Moses spoken to the rock. That lived till bit less than what it could have been added an element of falsehood to Moses’s actions.

A rushed prayer that is less than it could have been, has this quality of Tafalnu Sheker. A Shabbat, a festival, any mitzvah that is performed with Taful, a since that it is less then what it truly is, is Tafalnu Sheker. It is similar to one person saying to another, “I love you,” when it is clear that he does not.

Moses is frustrated by his inability to repair his sin: “I implored God at that time, saying, “My Master, God, the Lord, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong and, for what power is there in the heaven or on the earth that can perform according to Your deeds and according to Your mighty acts? Let me now cross and see the good Land that is on the other side of the Jordan, this good mountain and the Lebanon.” But God became angry with me because of you, and He did not listen to me; God said to me, “It is too much for you! Do not continue to speak to Me further about this matter. Ascend to the top of the cliff and raise your eyes westward, northward, self word, and eastward, and see with your eyes, for you shall not cross this Jordan (Deuteronomy 3:23–27).”

Moses was frustrated, but God described His greatest prophet so that all would know forever that Moses’s mistake had been repaired: “Never again has there arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom God had known face to face, as evidenced by all the signs and wonders that God sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharoah and all his courtiers and all his land, and by all the strong hand and awesome power that Moses performed before the eyes of all Israel (Deuteronomy 34:10–12).”

God teaches us that the fixing of Moses’s sin could be found in the broader view of the life of the greatest Prophet. There will always be mitzvot we perform at less than optimal levels. Our focus must be not on the specific actions but on the message we convey by the way we live. If our actions reflect the truth of our convictions, we will have successfully repaired Tafalnu Sheker.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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6
Oct

Mistakes: Latznu

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

In “Meditations on First Philosophy,” Descartes set out to determine how and if we can distinguish false beliefs from true knowledge. He began by noting that there is theoretically no limit to how wrong we could be, because, God could deliberately deceive us about even the most seemingly self-evident matters. People were uncomfortable speaking of God as a deceiver, so Descartes’ conceit has become known as the Evil Genius. The Evil Genius is determined to have us embrace the possibility that I am wrong. His real “genius” is when the Evil Genius makes us laugh at our perceived accomplishments or potential: Latznu. Cain was the first victim of this approach of the Evil Genius:

“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to God. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. God looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then God said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. (Genesis 4:2-8)”

It was Cain’s idea to bring an offering to God. Abel simply copied his older brother. Cain’s offering meant far more than Abel’s because he worked the land God had cursed, and still wanted to acknowledge God’s role in his success! He could not understand why God did not look with favor on his offering.

God explains, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” In other words, “You can do better!”

“You did so much. Your offering is so significant, that I desire more from you.”

“If you do not rise to what you can be you will fall in sin.”

Cain refused to hear that he could rise higher. He scoffed at what he could be. He wanted acknowledgement of what he already was. “How can I be better if You do not even look with favor at what I have already done?”

The great spiritual hero became a killer, and eventually, a scoffer of God’s greatness:

“Then God said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

God saw the two offerings and chose one over the other: Would He not know what happened to Abel?

The man who laughed at his potential made light of God’s knowledge, and eventually, perceived himself as a victim of the world – a joke:

God said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

Cain said to God, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” I have become a joke!

“When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you,” you, Cain, who overcame the original curse of the land and who insisted on making an offering of his work to God, have lost the greatness you had. You laughed at your potential; now you will lose what you had.

The Children of Israel fell victim to the Evil Genius when he convinced them to doubt that Moses would return from Sinai. They could not see what they had accomplished. They lost sight of their potential. They constructed the Golden Calf and partied; everything became a joke.

God guided them back by teaching them that they had the power to bring His Presence to earth, even more intensely than it was at Sinai: The people would use the same desire to build something physical with gold and silver to construct a home for the Divine Presence:

“Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of God filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of God filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40: 33-35)”

The great Moses who ascended Sinai for forty days and forty nights could not enter the tabernacle constructed by the people because, “the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of God filled the tabernacle.”

How often do we fall to the Latznu of the Evil Genius that makes us scoff at our accomplishments and potential! God constantly reminds us how we can learn from our mistakes. We can build by using our belief in our potential, just as any couple that marries is building a home perfectly confident in their ability to build something lasting.

We say Latznu and beat our chest, but then we use that fist to reach forward into the future with confidence. We have learned from our mistakes. We have learned how much we hurt ourselves when we make light of our accomplishments and potential. We face the future with strength.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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5
Oct

Mistakes: Ti’Ta’anu

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Having no theory at all and having too many theories both suggest that you are in the middle of a crisis of knowledge. A year and a half after the MilleritesGreat Disappointment,” one former believer, Enoch Jacobs, exclaimed, “O what an ocean of contradictory theories is that upon which the multitudes have been floating for the last eighteen months. Do you not long for rest from these conflicting elements?”

Ti’Ta’anu is our confession of functioning despite our crisis of knowledge despite its consequences:

For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel. But in the third year Jehoshaphat king of Judah went down to see the king of Israel. The king of Israel had said to his officials, “Don’t you know that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us and yet we are doing nothing to retake it from the king of Aram?”

So he asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?”

Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of God.”

So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”

“Go,” they answered, “for God, My Master will give it into the king’s hand.”

But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of God here whom we can inquire of?”

The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of God, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

“The king should not say such a thing,” Jehoshaphat replied.

So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.”

Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what God says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’”

All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for God will give it into the king’s hand.”

The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.”

But Micaiah said, “As surely as God lives, I can tell him only what God tells me.”

When he arrived, the king asked him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or not?”

“Attack and be victorious,” he answered, “for God will give it into the king’s hand.”

The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of God?”

Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and God said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”

The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”

Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of God: I saw God sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And God said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’

“One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before God and said, ‘I will entice him.’

“‘By what means?’ God asked.

“‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.

“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said God. ‘Go and do it.’

“So now God has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. God has decreed disaster for you.”

Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. “Which way did the spirit from God go when he went from me to speak to you?” he asked.

Micaiah replied, “You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room.”

The king of Israel then ordered, “Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king’s son, and say, ‘This is what the king says: Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.’”

Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely, God has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!” (I Kings 22:2-28)

“But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of God.” Jehoshaphat insisted on asking the counsel of God. He knew to not believe Ahab’s prophets: “But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of God here whom we can inquire of?”

Jehoshaphat understood that Ahab did not follow God’s word, or the instructions of a true prophet:

“The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of God, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

He rebukes Ahab for his cynicism: “The king should not say such a thing,” Jehoshaphat replied.”

Yet, even after he hears, “So now God has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. God has decreed disaster for you,” he went into battle with Ahab! How did this incredibly righteous king err so disastrously?

Too many agendas and too many theories:

Too many agendas: He wanted peace in Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” He also wanted to follow God: “First seek the counsel of God.” He also wanted victory for Israel.

Too many theories: So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Go,” they answered, “for God, My Master will give it into the king’s hand.”

Micaiah even includes this in his prophecy: “One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before God and said, ‘I will entice him.’

The process begins with, “One suggested this, and another that,” all sorts of opinions, and inevitably ends with, “I will (falsely) entice him.” Once we have numerous agendas on the table, and too many opinions and theories, we will move forward only by deceiving ourselves.

“You will succeed in enticing him,’ said God. ‘Go and do it.’” The deceiving spirit was permanently expelled from God’s Presence for its willingness to deceive.

Was Jehoshaphat able to repair his mistake?

“Now Jehoshaphat built a fleet of trading ships to go to Ophir for gold, but they never set sail—they were wrecked at Ezion Geber. At that time Ahaziah son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my men sail with yours,” but Jehoshaphat refused.” (I Kings 22:49-50)

Jehoshaphat refused Ahaziah’s help because he recognized that he lost his fleet as a punishment for allying himself with the wicked (See II Chronicles 20:37). He understood that he could not support his multiple agendas, nor continue to live with so many theories and opinions if he was to succeed.

I think of Ti’Ta’anu as the Post Yom Kippur Syndrome: This year I will learn Chumash, Navi, Tehillim, Mishna, Talmud, Midrash, Mussar, philosophy, Halacha…  This year I will work on my anger, my speech, my marriage, my work habits…

Many of us develop a huge list of agendas for the coming year, especially after we hear far too many theories about priorities in study and development of a relationship with God. We end up drowning in agendas and theories and losing the fleet.

We often end up deceiving ourselves with all sorts of explanations and excuses for failing to complete the extensive To-Do lists we composed on Yom Kippur.

We need not wait for after Yom Kippur to fall into Ti’Ta’anu; There are so many things we’d like to do and accomplish; more time with family, learn a new skill, take time to relax, develop friendships, become more politically active… The list grows, and we begin to drown in agendas. We get stuck.

We listen to one Rabbi speak of the importance of prayer, while another will speak of the primacy of Mussar, Ethical Development. The list grows, and we begin to be overwhelmed by theories. We cannot move forward.

Jehoshaphat had to choose his agenda: It was more important to avoid evil than to nurture peace with the wicked king of the Northern Kingdom. He set his priorities and began to move forward.

When we reflect on Ti’Ta’anu, and how we flounder in too many theories and agendas, we can declare that we have learned from our mistakes by choosing our most important goal for the coming year. The mistake will be repaired, and the year will be one of Tikkun.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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5
Oct

“Schindler’s Yom Kippur” by Prof Gerald August

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Schindler’s list is a great movie from the 1990s about Oscar Schindler, a businessman in Nazi Germany who made guns for the Nazis. He saved over 1200 Jews.

Schindler teaches us how to approach Yom Kippur. The Torah teaches us to “Afflict your soul.” People fast, do not wear leather shoes, etc. but the real command is to feel regret.

At the end of the movie, is a famous scene. The war was over and the Russians were approaching Schindler’s compound. He would be shot. So he was fleeing west. The Jews gathered and presented Schindler with a ring. On the ring was an inscription from the Talmud. “He who saves a single life it is as if he saved a whole world”. Schindler broke down and cried,” I could have done more. Had I sold my watch, I could have saved two more people”. The Jews crowded around him and said, “No! No! Look what you did.” It is one of the most famous and moving scenes in film history.

So Oscar Schindler teaches us how to approach Yom Kippur .He was afflicted. “I could have done more.” This is Yom Kippur.

Three days after I saw the movie, I went to a synagogue where a Schindler survivor spoke.

Someone asked the survivor the following question, ”Did that scene really happen?” The survivor answered, “I do not remember Oscar Schindler on that day saying I could have done more.”

What? The scene was a Spielberg invention? A Hollywood trick? My heart fell to the floor.

But, that was not the total answer from the survivor. Listen very well to the answer. He said,” I do not remember Oscar Schindler saying on that day I could have done more.

But, I worked with Schindler in his office for over a year, and MANY TIMES I heard him say, “I could have done more.”

I believe and know that someone who kept focusing on a goal will do more. Does this mean he saved two more Jews? Twenty more? Two hundred more? I don’t know.

But, this is more impressive than the famous last scene, which is a dramatization and an amalgam of Schindler’s mindset.

Because if Schindler only said it at the end, he could not have done more.The fact that he focused many times on his goal means he did do more.

Oscar Schindler teaches us how to take Yom Kippur into the new year.

We are sincere on Yom Kippur. We want to improve. But we all know what happens after a few weeks. We do not do more. We need a constant focus.

One way is to put that focus on a to-do list every couple of weeks.

There is a place we do more every week. In synagogues on Shabbat we do one thing more. We have an additional service. Mussaf. We add more.

One way to do mussaf and use it, is to remind yourself to do more. Something specific. Even if you give $.25 more to charity each week, it will be more. Or you consciously do a random act of kindness that Mussaf triggers, that is more.

Even if you don’t do something every week, you can set up a periodic way to do more.

New York City has a subway system. When a citizen turns 65, the price for a subway ride is cut by 50%. Many seniors I know are very excited about this benefit.

One day Allen was having dinner with his friend Paula. Allen is a senior and Paula is not. Allen told Paula he does not understand why someone like him, who is still working, should be paying less for a subway than a working person under age 65. Paula suggested he pay full fare. Allen pointed out that doing so would not lower the subway fare for the other people.

Paula then suggested he take the difference in the fare and give it to charity. Allen went home that evening and thought about her suggestion. He had recently put $50 on his subway card. He thought to himself, “When I refill the card, I will send $50 to a charity.”

He arranged a meeting with Rabbi Weinberg. He told the rabbi this story and asked the following question. “I want my $50 to do something. The basic need people have is food. What food bank spends most of the donation on the food?”

The rabbi replied, “City Harvest”. This program picks up food daily from restaurants, corporate cafeterias and other places that by law, for health reasons, need to get rid of the food they have that day. 91% of the donation to City Harvest goes to providing food. To put it another way, $50 provides about 200 pounds of food.

Allen has implemented this program. Every time he refills the subway card, he donates to City Harvest. Allen wanted to do more. Oscar Schindler, Paula and the rabbi taught him how to do so.

Every Yom Kippur we will realize we could have done more than last year. But if we follow Schindler’s teaching we will be saying,” I could have done more” on less, because we did do more.

This post is the yartzeit post in memory of my father, who’s yartzeit is on Yom Kippur.

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3
Oct

Mistakes: Kishinu Oref

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Studies have shown that if you and another person are debating the merits of a particular idea and the other person suddenly insults you, you will instantly retreat further into your own position, and your conviction that the other person is wrong will intensify.

I admit that it is far easier to “win” an argument with an obnoxious person then it is to win in a debate with an irritatingly reasonable person. My tongue sharpens when I am on the receiving end of a series of insults. Biting sarcasm cuts off the feet of my interlocutor, and then I can zoom in for the kill. It’s quite easy to reflect on such occasions as an appropriate use of anger. However, the Vidui wants us to consider not only the appropriateness of the anger but also the element of stubbornness.

In a powerful series of events, King David is held responsible for his stubborn response to Mephibosheth. The story opens with a beautiful scene in which David searches for a descendent of the House of Saul so that he may deal kindly with him for the sake of his dear friend, Jonathan. This is one of my favorite scenes in the life of King David as he demonstrates his loyalty, generosity and kindness:

David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”

“At your service,” he replied.

The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”

Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”

“Where is he?” the king asked.

Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”

So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.

When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.

David said, “Mephibosheth!”

“At your service,” he replied.

“Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”

Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s[a] table like one of the king’s sons.

Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet. (II Samuel, Chapter 9)

However, at a difficult juncture in David’s life he fails the crippled Mephibosheth:

When David had gone (as he was running for his life before the armies of his rebellious son, Absalom,) a short distance beyond the summit, there was Ziba, the steward of Mephibosheth, waiting to meet him. He had a string of donkeys saddled and loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred cakes of raisins, a hundred cakes of figs and a skin of wine.

The king asked Ziba, “Why have you brought these?”

Ziba answered, “The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refresh those who become exhausted in the wilderness.”

The king then asked, “Where is your master’s grandson?”

Ziba said to him, “He is staying in Jerusalem, because he thinks, ‘Today the Israelites will restore to me my grandfather’s kingdom.’”

Then the king said to Ziba, “All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.” (II Samuel 16:1-4)

When Ziba lies about his master Mephibosheth, the desperate David unquestionably accepts the false report. He confiscates everything Mephibosheth owns and grants it all to Ziba.

The story continues after David’s victory:

Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, also went down to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet or trimmed his mustache or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely.

When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, “Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth?”

He said, “My lord the king, since I your servant am lame, I said, ‘I will have my donkey saddled and will ride on it, so I can go with the king.’ But Ziba my servant betrayed me. And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king. My lord the king is like an angel of God; so do whatever you wish. All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to the king?”

The king said to him, “Why say more? I order you and Ziba to divide the land.”

Mephibosheth said to the king, “Let him take everything, now that my lord the king has returned home safely.” (19:25-31)

Mephibosheth had not bathed his feet, or trend his mustache, or even laundered his clothing from the day that King David had to run from Jerusalem. It was clear to David that Ziba had lied. And yet, King David did not restore all of his property; only half. It was as if Ziba’s false report had planted itself in David’s heart, and the kingdom was unable to let go of his suspicions of Mephibosheth.

The Sages teach that King David was punished for splitting Mephibosheth’s property by planting the seed that would lead to the split of his kingdom after the death of Solomon. A King cannot afford to be stubborn. A King cannot afford to look at a situation only in the way he has in the past. He must be willing to shed any previous convictions and take an entirely new view of all that is before him.

This is not the typical example of stubbornness. This is not a person who is unwilling to consider the other side. This is not someone who is unwilling to change his mind. This is the stubbornness of holding on even to just a smidgen of something he previously believed, without shedding all previous misconceptions.

This is the stubbornness of being unable to let go of resentments. This is the stubbornness that makes it difficult to forgive people who ask our forgiveness with a whole heart after hurting us. There is that seed of doubt that remains in the back of our mind that makes it difficult for us to relate to the person as if the bad had never occurred.

This is the stubbornness that makes it difficult for us to consider a new approach to prayer. This is the stubbornness that makes it difficult for us to plan a different sort of Yom Kippur. So many of us want the same tunes, the same feelings, the same experiences of previous Yom Kippurs, that we cannot adjust to a new way to pray on this most important day.

Did David know how to learn from this mistake? For this we turn to the story of Shimei who verbally attacked King David as he was running from Jerusalem:

As King David approached Bahurim (as he was running for his life before the armies of his rebellious son, Absalom), a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel! The LORD has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The LORD has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!”

Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.”

But the king said, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’”

David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. It may be that the LORD will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.”

So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt.(II Samuel 16:5-13)

David did not respond to the insults by becoming more stubborn, but by looking deeper into himself. He was able to let go of the insult and view the situation with clarity. King David definitely knew how to avoid the type of stubbornness described above.

He succeeds again after his victory over Absalom:

When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king, and said to him, “May my lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. 20 For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first from the tribes of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king.”

Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed God’s anointed.”

David replied, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? What right do you have to interfere? Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Don’t I know that today I am king over Israel?” So the king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” And the king promised him on oath. (19:19-24)

And yet…

The story of Shimei always precedes the story of Mephiboshet! King David knew how to rid himself of this type of stubbornness before he made his terrible error! He had all the necessary skills to avoid falling into the trap he did, and yet, he failed.

I suspect that the reason King David failed was because he was desperate to avoid being stubborn: when Ziba appeared without his master, King David recalled that it was Ziba who had initiated contact between David and Mephiboshet. It was Ziba who made the connection, and yet, David turned to Ziba and said to him, “You shall work the land for him, you and your sons and your servants.” David had not awarded Ziba; he made him a permanent slave.

When Ziba appeared to support David during the king’s desperate moments, demonstrating his loyalty despite the fact that he had never been rewarded for helping David, the king, refusing to be stubborn, looked back into the past and decided to repair his previous lack of gratitude to Ziba.

King David was convinced that his decision to reward Ziba was the opposite of stubbornness. For all intents and purposes, it was. However, the Sages understand that when King David does not apologize to Mephibosheth, or explain the reason for his decision, David is being stubborn.

Once King David understood how he had hurt Ziba so long ago, he should have applied the lesson to his dealings with Mephibosheth. His refusal to do so was an expression of Kishinu Oref.

This part of the Vidui address is every single situation in which we do not consider all the lessons we have learned in the past and applies them before acting or speaking. Kishinu Oref describes the subtle the burn determination to hold on to old patterns of behavior.

How can we repair it?

Review one conflict after reviewing all the lessons we have learned about listening, being sensitive, caring, and open-minded. Pinpoint how we could have managed the conflict without that “stubbornness,” and then make a serious effort to repair that one conflict.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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3
Oct

After Forgiveness

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Relationships

I am convinced that a Shiva call is not considered complete until after the Seven Days of Mourning! The Shiva house is full of people, but then it ends. The mourner is left alone. He has to return to life with his entire world changed, without the support of all the friends who came during Shiva. The call after the Shiva has ended, when the people have left and the house is silent, is when the mourner needs a different type of support. The phone call after Shiva completes the comfort offered during Shiva.

I just finished speaking to a friend two weeks after he got up from Shiva, and I realized that there is a long list of “after” calls to make: not to the people who I visited during Shiva; those calls were made. I have to call all the people of whom I asked forgiveness to show that the request for forgiveness was only the first step. I now have to work at rebuilding relationships I have damaged.

I cannot make my “after” call and pretend all is well because I asked for forgiveness, but I must convey the message that I am determined to repair the relationship. It is only now that the real work begins. Is the relationship important enough to put in all that effort? Is the other party interested? How hard shall I try?

One more thought: Is this what our post Yom Kippur work is? Are we supposed to use our Mitzvot as demonstrations of our commitment to repair our relationship with God? Does the real Yom Kippur work begin after Yom Kippur?

Was that Jonah’s issue with the repentance of the people of Nineveh?

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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18
Sep
10
Sep

Mistakes: Bagadnu

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“We have betrayed.” “A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know of Joseph (Exodus 1:8).” “He made himself as if he did not know of Joseph’s contributions to Egypt (Rashi).” My father zt’l often spoke of the fact that the first thing the Torah wants us to know about Pharaoh was that he had no sense of gratitude; he was a Bogeid, a denier of how he benefited from others! Pharaoh was cruel tyrant, a murderer, and a denier of God, and yet, the Torah wants us to know that at the root of all his evil was the fact that he was a person who betrayed Joseph! My father added, “One who denies how he has benefited from others will eventually deny God from Whom he has benefited most!”

It’s also interesting that the man who betrays Joseph eventually betrays his entire nation, allowing them to be destroyed as a result of his stubbornness!

We do not find Pharaoh attempting to rectify this sin, but, when we consider the story of the Ten Plagues, we find that God is directing the king to rectify this one point: The slavery ended as soon as the plagues began, and yet, Pharaoh refuses God’s demand that he, “Let My people go!” Pharaoh is certainly struggling with God, wondering why such a great Power needed his permission to allow the Jews to leave, but how did he rationalize his decision to allow his country to be devastated? He, at one point, agrees to allow the men to leave for a three day celebration with their God, but insists that they return, holding the women and children hostage. He wants Israel to remain in Egypt even if they are no longer slaves. He needs them for his country. Pharaoh is forced by God to acknowledge Israel’s contribution to Egypt. God directs events so that Pharaoh will repair his denial of Joseph.

Application:

“Bagadnu: I acknowledge that I have not consistently acknowledged how I have benefited from others, my parents, teachers, friends and strangers. I commit to actively repair this sin by reviewing how I have benefited from the important people in my life and contacting them to acknowledge how I have benefited from them.”

See: http://www.thefoundationstone.org/en/holidays/yom-kippur/1449-confessionsbagadnu.html

 

http://www.thefoundationstone.org/en/holidays/yom-kippur/4090-confessionsbagadnu.html

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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10
Sep

Mistakes: Ashamnu

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I’m right.” (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière)

Genesis 42: 1 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” 2 He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”

3 Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him. 5 So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also.

6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. 7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked.

“From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.”

8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9 Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”

10 “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.”

12 “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”

13 But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.”

14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 15 And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17 And he put them all in custody for three days.

18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do.

21 They said to one another, “Surely we are guilty (Asheimim) because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.”

The brothers acknowledge their guilt for refusing to listen to Joseph’s cries even though they saw his distress. They did not say that they were guilty for not listening, but for not listening after they saw Joseph’s suffering.

We are approaching the Vidui as a way of learning from our mistakes: Did the brothers learn from this mistake? Did they change after acknowledging their sin?

The brothers “Knew” they were right when they threw their brother into the pit. They saw him as destructive, dangerous to the family’s unity. The Sages describe the brothers as convening a Court and sentencing Joseph to death!

They are do not openly state that they were wrong for getting rid of Joseph, only for ignoring his cries even after they saw his agony. It is difficult to pay attention when you know you are right!

Reuben attempts to have them consider that they were altogether wrong, “Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood,” but he is ignored. As far as the brothers are concerned, they were guilty only for ignoring Joseph’s cries even after seeing his suffering.

Did they attempt to repair their sin?

They did: “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father (50:15-16).” Rashi says that they sent the children of Bilhah to speak to Joseph, because he had always been very friendly with them.

I believe that the choice of the sons of Bilhah was an attempt to repair the sin described above. Joseph surely suffered when he realized that his brothers wanted to kill him, but suffered most from the hatred, or, at the very least, the silence of the brothers with whom he was friendly. The choice of these brothers, who had hurt Joseph the most was an indication that they were paying attention to Joseph’s experience; his pain, his response. They were attempting to repair the lack of sensitivity they displayed when they ignored his cries by demonstrating that they were now paying attention to his emotions. This was the rectification of their Ashamnu.

It is only when they attempt to repair the Ashamnu that they first acknowledge that they were wrong: “I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.”

The lack of sensitivity and compassion for Joseph prevented them from reconsidering their decision. Once they repaired the Ashamnu, they were able to reevaluate all their actions.

Application:

There are times when we reach a decision and act so convinced that we are correct that we ignore the effects of our decisions on others. That is Ashamnu. (Five of the six Asham Offerings are associated with the impact of our decisions on others. The sixth, Asham Talui, the Doubt Asham, is focused on dealing with doubting a “right” decision.)

A person is so careful with the laws of negative speech that he will not share information when asked for a recommendation for a Shidduch or a business transaction.

A person accepts new religious stringencies without considering the impact on his or her spouse.

The point of reciting Ashamnu is to identify such moments and commit to take specific action to rectify the lack of sensitivity. The Tikkun can be to commit to being a better listener, or to review important decisions with the people who will be most affected by the decision.

“Ashamnu; I have acted without being sufficiently sensitive to the impact of my decisions and actions on others. I commit to repair this sin by paying more attention to the reactions of others to my decisions.”

See: http://www.thefoundationstone.org/en/holidays/yom-kippur/1446-confessions-ashamnu.html

http://www.thefoundationstone.org/en/holidays/yom-kippur/4086-confessionsashamnu.html

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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8
Sep

The Mystery & The Puzzle

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

David Morris writes in “The Culture of Pain” that to a doctor, pain is a puzzle, but to a patient it is a mystery, in the ancient sense of the word, a truth necessarily closed off from full understanding, which refuses to yield every quantum of its darkness: “a landscape where nothing looks entirely familiar and where even the familiar takes on an uncanny strangeness.”

I study the Vidui, the Yom Kippur Confession, and immediately experience the mystery of pain. I grew up observing people weeping as they recited the Vidui. When asked, they would describe the pain they felt over their mistakes, and how undeserving they were of God’s blessings. I never heard that approach from my father zt”l, but it left its mark. Here I am, pained over my imperfections and failings. I am viewing my life through the eyes of the Vidui, the things I could be doing better, and the landscape looks different from my regular perspective. I try to observe all that I do through the eyes of God’ Judgment, not my daily perspective, and everything becomes slightly unfamiliar. I become a mystery to myself. Why is it so difficult to change? Why do I repeat the same mistakes year after year? In my regular view, my anger was appropriate. In the Vidui’s view, the situation is different; there was no call for anger and resentment.

If my Vidui causes me to see me and my life as mysteries, how will it help me change in practical ways? Are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur about the mysteries of life or the way we deal with what we perceive?

I decided to take the physician’s perspective; that of a puzzle, not a mystery. I acknowledge the pain and attempt to understand it as a piece of the huge puzzle of a human being struggling with life: “Is the pain another piece in the complex puzzle of my life?”

For some people, the pain is how they experience Teshuva – they only feel that they are doing Teshuva when they feel pain over their mistakes. They want to feel the pain. It becomes an essential part of their religious life: “If I can’t live at a higher level, I will, at least, be pained that I cannot. The pain is my way of exculpating my inadequacies.” The pain has become part of the person’s service. It is one piece of the puzzle; a piece that adds pain to their spiritual lives. They do not believe in the pure joy of serving God; it must come with some pain.

That cannot be the intent of the Vidui.

The Vidui lays out a structure that describes our struggle with mastering a spiritual life challenged by the mundane. It lists the daunting challenges of living a God oriented life. It lays out the map of how spiritual yearnings may mislead us. It points out where we are straying from the path to success. I can pinpoint my mistakes and sigh in relief, not pain, as I realize where and how I can return to my path.

The Vidui helps me identify the source of my pain, and repair it. It is not intended to cause pain, but to identify it at its source. It restores the joy in my service of God. It heals me. It empowers me to move forward without pain.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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