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Yom Kippur 5772

October 7, 2011

A few weeks ago in Parshas Niztavim we read the opening line “אַתֶּם נִצָּבִים הַיּוֹם כֻּלְּכֶם, לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם: רָאשֵׁיכֶם שִׁבְטֵיכֶם, זִקְנֵיכֶם וְשֹׁטְרֵיכֶם, כֹּל, אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל.” “ATEM Nitzavim hayom culchem lifnei Adonai Eloheichem”” You stand before me today, all of you, before the Lord your G-d. Chazal mention that the word אַתֶּם is an acronym for “אל תשליכני מלפנך” “Do not cast me away from before you”. Why would this sentiment be expressed here, when Moshe states that the entire nation is standing before G-d?

There is an interesting concept taught in “Tomer Devorah” by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero. In there, he makes the point that when we pray as a community, we are seen as a community, that we judged as a community and thus are punished or forgiven as a community. When we pray as individuals, we are seen as individuals, we are judged as individuals and punished or forgiven as individuals. However, we know that as a nation g-d will never forsake us, as a nation though F-d may distance himself from us, he will never abandon us complete. As it states in Sefer Yermiyahu, “Israel, though it sins, remains Israel”. Does this same concept apply to individuals?

To that I can only say- to a limited extent. As individuals, we CAN cut ourselves off from G-d, we can find ourselves punished with kares, spiritual excision, where our soul is eternally cut off from G-d. However, even someone who has earned the punishment of Kares, can do teshuvah and return and once again to connect to G-d. Even such a person can once again be fully a part of the community that they have been cut off from and assured of their place in the world to come.

Here is where I will introduce yet another concept from “Tomer Devorah”- the idea that one of G-d’s attributes of mercy is that he forgives even when we don’t deserve it. Essentially he wipes the slate clean and sees if we can live without repeating the same mistakes, allowing us an opportunity to be righteous even when we are too stubborn to repent for ourselves. This we see in the Tanakh at those times that Israel sinned, were being punished and G-d allowed them to rise up again, even though they had not manifestly changed their way of living. G-d was prepared to give the nation another chace, in his mercy he wanted us to be close to him, and not estranged. Similarly, G-d exercises this restraint towards us as individuals, forgiving us, even though we may not have repented in ourselves.

However, as a community, this forgiveness is much easier to come by. When we participate as a community, when we join with a community, we part of a while. Our own individual foibles and deeds become submerged within the whole, we become part and parcel of the greater group. Every one of us has a great role to play, every one of us is an important part of the mix, every one of us has an unique voice to add to the chorus but we are part if a whole, whose sum is far greater than its parts.

Thus the statement of Moshe, you stand before G-d, as a group, as a whole- do not become estranged, do not become cast away. The plaintive cry of “Do not cast me away from before you G-d” is part of the Musaf service on Yom Kippur, we beg G-d not to send us away, not to punish us by dismissing us from his presence. We want to be part of the whole, we want to be part of a nation that no matter what, G-d will never abandon.
As we stand here, at the start of Yom Kippur, as we have just recited Kol Nidre, along with its introduction that “With the permission of the heavenly court, and the permission of the earthly court we declare it lawful to pray with the sinners”, we see that a community is only complete when all its elements are present. The Temple incense, burned in the holy of holies, contained galbonim, a foul smelling herb, since, as the sages teach, we are only a complete nation when those with a foul odor i.e. the sinners, are included. And now, at the start of Yom Kippur, we want those sinners there, we want them to have the chance to have their sins forgiven, to be joined with us, to be forgiven as part of the national forgiveness that G-d shows to Bnei Yisrael.
Yet there is an element of sadness here that there is one category of sinners that have so completely abandoned Judaism that they are not considered part of the community, that cannot join with the community at either times of joy or times of sadness. When it comes to the apostate, to the Jew that has converted to another religion, the Torah states that the person is no longer a part of the Jewish people, that they are no longer a part of the community. It states this in connection with the Korban Pesach in Shmot 12:43, forbidding the Jew converted to another religion from offering it, and thus indicating that they are punished with kares, spiritual excision. As such, at a time when they are excluded from the community, what better time to exhort them to repent, to return to Judaism, so they, too, can be counted amongst the community and receive forgiveness from G-d

From → Comment

6 Comments
  1. Malkah permalink

    May you have shalom, and a deeply spiritual and meaningful fast my friend.
    Good points you have there.
    Malkah

  2. Dovid permalink

    A Guute Year to you

    My question is simple: Why do you persist in tryign to plead to these kofrim? The majority are not Jewish. They are merely a different ta’am of Christianity, and will not understandwhat you write, those that are Kofrim, they are so defensive about their new religion that they will not listen Why expend energy on them?

    • The reason is as I posted before- “All of Israel is responsibel one for another”. Before Yom Kippur, when we declare that it is lawful to pray with the sinners, seems a good time to reach out to them. Chazal state that during Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, the gates of Teshuvah are open wide, that it is the most opportune time to do so. yes, we can do teshuva at any time oif the year, but we have just come out of the most advantageous time. For that reason, I believe it is the most opportune time to reach out, to try and awaken that spark of yiddishkeit within their souls that never goes out, revive it, fan it into a flame, and hopefully help someone find their way back. Who knows, maybe somebody got touched. I won’t know unless they tell me- and it seems that the “messinaic jews”, while reading the post are not commenting. It got 70 views in slightly over 3 hours- it has over 100 views on it now- yet none of them have commented. Too embarassed? Unable to comment? Not allowed to comment? I don’t know- I just hope that one of the many people that read it had that spark reunited and next year this time can be part of the community, and not estranged from it

  3. Messianic Jew permalink

    Please be aware that Messianic Judaism stands against racism or discrimination of any kind. We cannot answer for what is done in other countries, but the Constitution and Bill of Rights guarantee freedom of religion and it says nothing about being limited to traditional Judaism only.

    I promise you that entire body of Jews around the world are not in any danger of being converted to Messianics, nor do we have any need having Yeshua return if we were to do so!

    The comments that you’re posting here are filled with half-truths and outright falsehoods that only serve to stoke fear and hatred of people who are different. They are dangerous and divisive at a time when what we need to do is come together to solve our common problems.

    If you’d like to discuss as a civil human being, I’ll be happy to email you any time you have a few minutes.

    Blessings – A Messianic Jew

    • This comment is typical of that of the “messianic jews”. Nowhere do I state that “messianic judaism” is illegal. against the law or that the civil authorities shoudl take any action agaunst them whatsoever. However, in an attempt to turn the atatckers into the victim, the typical tactic of the “messianic jews” is to throw out red herrings, to claim that somehow I am trying to deny them their rights. The exact opposite is, of course, the truth. the “messianic jew” is hoping that their accusation will make me feel all guilty and have me quavering at the accusation that I am tryign to deny them their rghts. I am not denying anyone their rights- the only ones trying to deny rights to others are those like Messianic Jew here who is tryign to silence me with false accusations!

      So first the insinuation that I am tryign to deny them their rights, then the accusation that the posts are “filled with half-truths and outright falsehoods”. Of course no specifics are given- if they were, then the accusation could be shown to be false since any accusation I have posted here has been supported by screenshots of the people involved exhibiting the exact behaviour being blogged about.

      Bottom line, sadly all tat this cmment shows is the tactics utilised by the “messianic jews”- lies, insinuations and false accusations against those who expose them for what they are.

      Is there any common ground? Do we have any problems? Nope- Jews share nothing with the deceitful missionaries in the “messianic jewish” movement. Our problem IS the “messianic jewish” movement with their disgusting tactics, their lies, their deceit, their bait and switch scam

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