Our Yom Kippur vort is being sponsored by Yossie and Elisheva Schulman of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for refuah shlaima for both Yishaya Shalom ben Malka Gittel (Blass) and Shlomo Chaim ben Chaya (Scholnick). To Yossie, Elisheva and the Schulman family, may you all be inscribed and sealed for only simcha, success, good health, nachas from your children, and only good things in the year to come and to at least 120 years. Many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued multitude of kindnesses.
Friends, you can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
In considering this year’s vort for Yom Kippur, a question arises: Why the need for Kol Nidrei once the Kehilla gathers in groups of four to say “Annulment of Vows” after the final Shacharit before Rosh Hashana? Or the inverse question: Why do we say “Annulment of Vows” when we know that Kol Nidrei is recited by the Shaliach Tzibbor on Yom Kippur night??
One possible answer could be to equate the public recital of Kol Nidrei with the morning Brachot and Shema which are recited individually, or in groups in Shul as men don their Talit and Tefillin availing them the opportunity to say “amen” to the Brachot several times before the Shaliach Tzibbor recites the Brachot for the benefit of the Kehilla which answers “amen” to each in unison.
But it would seem more likely that the answer resides in the different settings in which “Annulment of Vows” and Kol Nidrei are recited.
As stated previously, members of the Kehilla recite “Annulment of Vows” in groups of four with each person in each group reciting the verses before three of their peers acting as a Beit Din.
But on Yom Kippur, there are many people assembled in Shul who are not members of the Kehilla. There are out-of-towners, non-observant people and there are or could be people who have seriously transgressed and who, themselves, seek to do Teshuvah.
There is a declaration recited by the Shaliach Tzibbor just before he begins Kol Nidrei which is referred to as “Permission to Transgressors/With the Approval of the Omnipresent”:
With the approval of the Omnipresent and with the approval of the congregation; in the convocation of the Court above and in the convocation of the Court below, we sanction prayer with the transgressors. (The Artscroll Yom Kippur Machsor, page 59)
The Artscroll Yom Kippur Machsor provides a commentary on the Permission and Kol Nidrei:
With the approval of the Omnipresent. This is a formal declaration through which the elders of the congregation invite the participation even of the transgressors who may have been excluded from the Shul. On Yom Kippur, all Jews must join together to pray and repent. (The Artscroll Yom Kippur Machsor, page 58)
There is a d’var Torah by the Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, translated to English by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, pages 440-441). The thoughts expressed by the Shem Mishmuel seem particularly pertinent to understanding the reasoning for the special recitation of Kol Nidrei on Yom Kippur night.
Shem Mishmuel cites Moshe Rabbeinu’s final address to the B’nei Yisrael (Devarim, Perek 29, posukim 9-10):
You are all standing here today, before the Lord, your G’d — your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, every Jewish man. Your children, your women, the outsider who is in your camp, from your woodcutter to your water-drawer.
Shem Mishmuel then explains that:
These divisions of people represent the whole gamut of the nation, from young to old, the powerful and the ordinary — in short, everyone of every type.
He explains that the ketores (incense) was a component of the daily korbonot (offerings), but that on Yom Kippur it would play a primary role.
The Kohen Gadol took a shovel-full of incense into the Holy of Holies and waited there until the cloud of spices filled the room. This incense contained eleven spices, ten of which were pleasant-smelling, but one of which had a foul odor. We may suggest that the ten sweet-smelling spices corresponded to the ten groups within the Jewish people noted above.
…Ketores… is etymologically linked to kesher, which means “connection.” The spices were pounded together to make a single compound. This illustrates that each group within Israel must recognize that it has value only as part of a larger entity. When this occurs [the pounding and grinding together of all ten spices into a single compound – MB] , it is possible to add the eleventh, malodorous spice, which represents the bad elements within Yisrael. Only when these eleven spices are pounded into indistinguishable dust, that is completely mingled, can they be brought to the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. In the same way, only when everyone, good or bad, acts for a single purpose, nullifying his individuality to the benefit of the community, can the “compound” of the Jewish people be presented to G’d for His scrutiny… However, if dissonance exists within the various elements of the klal, then the weaker, eleventh group cannot join. Since there is already disharmony among the people, adding the sinful element will not produce a completely unified Yisrael and…. will cause additional strife, as the weaker group will join one side or the other of the rift, strengthening the divide.
…To achieve real unity in the community, and throughout Am Yisrael, a sort of “grinding” of the personality is needed. It is arrogance which leads to disunity, the feeling that one is special and in some way above everyone else. One must pound this arrogance out of one’s character to effect the realization that one’s whole existence depends on the community.
There is another citing which amplifies the above. Gemara Mesechta Megillah, page 25a1 (Shottenstein edition) cites Mishnah Perek 4, posuk 9:
One who says [about Hashem – MB]: “Good men shall bless You” — this is the way of heresy.
The footnote in the Gemara on this Mishnah reads:
For he does not include the wicked among those who praise G’d, and the Sages teach us (Kereisos 6b) that any public fast that does not include the transgressors of Israel is not accepted, They derive this from the inclusion of galbunim, which emits a foul odor, among the ingredients of the incense offered in the Beit HaMikdash. Similarly, the wicked must be considered as part of the congregation of Israel. (Attributions to Rashi; cf. Ran, Meiri)
And consider this profound citing written by Yehoshua Starrett, the translator and editor of the Sefer “To Heal the Soul” authored by the Aish Kodesh, the Rebbe Piazecna, R’ Kalonymus Kalman Shapira as a journal (pages xvii-xviii):
In Warsaw he was confronted with the Sabbath desecration epidemic of the 1920s by the irreligious Jewish socialists. In this too, Rebbe Kalonymous accomplished with his love and understanding what others were unable to do with their campaigning.
He used to say that in every single Jew, even the most belligerently anti-religious, is a spark of Jewish soul that needs only to be reached, opened and ignited in the right way. Rebbe Kalonymous knew how to do this. After several meetings with him, these hard socialist leaders admitted their difficulty arguing with him…
Rebbe Kalonymous was indeed a most devoted leader, both in the spiritual and material sense. “A rebbe who is not willing to enter Gehennom to save a follower is not a rebbe,” he used to say….
In other words, the Aish Kodesh too held that every Jew has that “spark of Jewish Soul,” The pintele Yid, that every Jew was integral in making up the total Ketores, the scent that rises to Shemayim.
Sefer “Inspiration and Insight”, Volume 2; Discourses on the Holidays and Other Themes, by the Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, z”l (translated and arranged by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, pages 91) comments:
From Hashem’s love for us, we should learn how to love one another. In essence, all Jews are one. Our souls are united and in each soul there is a portion of all the others. This concept is the basis of the principle “all Jews are responsible for one another (Shavuot 39a).” Since each Jewish soul possesses a portion of all the others, when a Jew sins, his wrong affects not only his own soul, but also the collective soul of Israel.
Accepting that even though other sectors may not meet certain standards in the minds of some, and may represent to these — the galbanum, WE ARE, STILL AND ALL JEWS?. And we are one — a unity.
May we pour our hearts out to Hashem this Yom Kippur with purity, complete unity and deep sincerity leaving “nothing in the locker room” on a national level as well as locally and as individuals. May Hashem grant us a happy, healthy and sweet new year, a new year where a Jewish governance of national pride and self-image replaces the current shameful state of Israeli governance. As Rabbi Moshe Ungar would always say before a fast, back in Philly — back in the “old country”, “Daven hard, fast easy” — Tefillah Kasher V’Tzom Kal!
But as we daven, we need all keep in mind the the words of this golden oldie:
Private Eyes are watchin’ you… watchin’ you, watchin’ you, watchin’ you! Private Eyes!
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Daven Hard, Fast Easy! May You, All of My Brothers, Sisters, be Sealed, for another Year of Life… Now and Always!
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.