Day 7: Elul and Yom Kippur

Day 7

ו׳ אלול

Monday, August 28, 2017

English Translation follows

2.6

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַתְּשׁוּבָה וְהַצְּעָקָה יָפָה לְעוֹלָם, בַּעֲשֶׂרֶת הַיָּמִים שֶׁבֵּין רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה וְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים הִיא יָפָה בְּיוֹתֵר, וּמִיָּד הִיא מִתְקַבֶּלֶת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר “דִּרְשׁוּ ה’, בְּהִמָּצְאוֹ; קְרָאֻהוּ, בִּהְיוֹתוֹ קָרוֹב” (ישעיהו נה,ו).  בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים, בַּיָּחִיד; אֲבָל בַּצִּבּוּר–כָּל זְמָן שֶׁעוֹשִׂין תְּשׁוּבָה וְצוֹעֲקִין בְּלֵב שָׁלֵם הֶן נַעֲנִין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר “כַּה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ, בְּכָל-קָרְאֵנוּ אֵלָיו” (דברים ד,ז).

Even though teshuvah and crying out in prayer are always good, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are exceptionally valuable. During those days one’s prayers are accepted immediately, as it is written (Isaiah 55:6), seek out God when He is found, call out to Him when He is close. This applies when one is praying alone. When one is praying in a community, however, any time that people do teshuvah and cry out with a full heart, they are answered, as it is written (Deuteronomy 4:7), [a people to whom God is close] as is the Lord our God whenever we call out to Him.

2.7

יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים–הוּא זְמָן תְּשׁוּבָה לַכֹּל, לַיָּחִיד וְלָרַבִּים, וְהוּא קֵץ מְחִילָה וּסְלִיחָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל; לְפִיכָּךְ חַיָּבִין הַכֹּל לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה וּלְהִתְוַדּוֹת בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים.  וּמִצְוַת וִדּוּי יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים שֶׁיַּתְחִיל מֵעֶרֶב הַיּוֹם קֹדֶם שֶׁיֹּאכַל, שֶׁמֶּא יֵחָנֵק בַּסְּעוֹדָה קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּתְוַדֶּה.  וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִתְוַדָּה קֹדֶם שֶׁיֹּאכַל, חוֹזֵר וּמִתְוַדֶּה בְּלֵילֵי יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים עַרְבִּית; וְחוֹזֵר וּמִתְוַדֶּה בַּשַּׁחְרִית, וּבַמּוּסָף, וּבַמִּנְחָה, וּבַנְּעִילָה.  וְהֵיכָן מִתְוַדֶּה? יָחִיד, אַחַר תְּפִלָּתוֹ; וּשְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר, בְּאֶמְצַע תְּפִלָּתוֹ בִּבְרָכָה רְבִיעִית.

Yom Kippur is a day of teshuvah for all, both individuals and communities.  It is the ultimate day of forgiveness and pardon for the Jewish people.  Therefore, everyone is obligated to do teshuvah and confess on Yom Kippur. The commandment to confess begins on the eve of Yom Kippur, before the meal prior to the fast, lest one choke before one has the opportunity to confess.  Even though a person confessed before that afternoon meal, he must confess again during the evening prayer of Yom Kippur, and then confess again at the morning prayer, the additional musaf prayer, the afternoon prayer, and the concluding ne’ila prayer.  How is this done? An individual confesses at the end of the prayer, and the prayer leader confesses in the middle of the prayer during the fourth blessing.

Image: Maurycy Gottlieb, “Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur” (1878)

Translation from Maimonides on Teshuvah (5th edition, 2017)

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