Comment: Thank you for all your posts rabbi, I receive probably 100 rabbi newsletters all the time, but yours is the only one I read every week, absolutely love it. Thank you for writing last week about davening in your own language, I agree, otherwise no one knows what we read and makes no sense.
Also as we read Avinu Malkeinu these days before Yom Kippur, I was also thinking that Rabbi Akiva initially came up with that prayer to “ask” for rain, and he pronounced 5 lines with great concentration and Hashem answered him… but now we added like 40 more lines to it and read it with crazy speed just to read it, makes no sense. Wouldn’t it make more sense to read less but with better concentration and attention?
Thank you!! Would love to know your thoughts on this.
Zoric- writing to you from Abadszalok, Hungary
Response: thank you for your kind comments. Indeed you are correct and you are not alone with your thoughts. The Oisvorfer will shine some more light on this subject in the coming weeks.
Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
Let’s talk tachlis (reality). Rosh Hashono is now in our rear view mirrors and so are, nebech, the many resolutions you took upon yourself. Seemingly you’re the same minuvil bum you were just last week. Maybe even worse and you are on thin ice with the RBSO, mamish! Thankfully, Yom Kippur is mamish just around the corner. Over Rosh Hashono you resolved to improve yourself and your behavior towards the RBSO. You resolved to dramatically cut down on your talking while in shul. Did you? Not! Instead, your talking has continued unabated. Moreover, your mind wanders off onto myriad topics, none of them davening related. A broch mamish (total disaster). Instead of being stimulated by the davening and trying to chap the meaning of the words you are chanting, you’re busy thinking about some big business deal, about money, sports and other stimulating zachin of interest, if you chap. You resolved to cut back on your loshoin horo but did you? Not! Instead, on Yom Tov mamish, you bad mouthed at least one or more of the ba’alai tifilois (those leading the services) who were nebech shvitzing away under their taleisim while you, freshly showered each morning, compared their voices to better voices. Did you resolve to start davening Mincha (with or without a minyan) in this New Year? You did! Ober did you already skip a few days or every day? You did! Why? Because old habits are hard to break; azoy-geytiz (that’s how it goes). Of course the examples are endless ober you get the point; you’re still no good, let’s move on.
Avada you all know that we find ourselves deep into the Aseres Yimay Tshuva (Ten Days of Repentance). Are there really ten full days? Soon we’ll address that. And raboyseyee, you’re mamish running out of time. By the time, you receive this special pre Yom Kippur edition, eight of the ten tshuva days will have passed, leaving only tomorrow (Friday), and the shabbis/Yom Kippur combo to apologize profusely to the RBSO for your errant behavior in the year 5774 and convince Him that you will do better in 5775. Of course you won’t: old habits are zicher hard to break ober a promise today, coupled with several very interesting generally accepted yet weird rituals in the days preceding YK and some repentance, including banging your chest a few hundred times along with other rituals on Yom Kippur, might just get you a life-pass for the coming year. It’s not a terrible bet.
But what are these ten days? Are they mentioned anywhere in the heylige Toirah? Of course not! Ober our rabbis, bless their souls, decided that we couldn’t just walk into Yom Kippur without being properly primed. We needed to be properly inspired and in the right frame of mind to do real tshuva (repentance) on Yom Kippur. So………..to get us ready for the big day, they created intermediate steps that we are to take during these days.
Growing up, especially in the orthodox world, it was clearly understood that the rituals of the ten days were mamish real; they worked to help cleanse our souls and rid ourselves of sins. No one questioned these days or the rituals. Ober in our times, it appears that at least two of the pre Yom Kippur rituals are under attack and a third is being questioned. Some have begun to wonder just how reciting silichois daily with words only the RBSO fully understands or throwing some bread into the water and reciting a few words at a ceremony we call Tashlich, or how shlugging kaporos (waiving a live chicken over our heads), or dipping our bodies into the mikveh, could help atone for our sins. Can they?
Moreover a good number of rabbis tell us that it is absolutely forbidden to throw bread or challah, even whole wheat, into the water on Yom Tov. Are we committing new sins while trying to rid ourselves of the old? Ver veyst? Wouldn’t this entire controversy be resolved if the rabbis were to tell their congregants to do the Tashlich ceremony on any other day but Yom tov?
Moreover, how could eight of the ten days have gone by so quickly? Didn’t Rosh Hashono just end a few days ago? Nu, as it turns out, the RBSO in His magnificence, zicher knew that you and most others, couldn’t handle a full ten 10 of tshuva, a full ten days of being on somewhat better behavior, ten additional days of shul, minyan, a reduction in loshoin horo and other general improvements to your standard behavior, and decided to include the two days of Rosh Hashono and the shabbis immediately following, in the count. And that’s how, raboyseyee, the Aseres Yimay Tshuva, aseres meaning ten, are in reality but a full seven days. Veyter. Is seven days too much to ask for better behavior?
Ober who created these 10 tshuva days and based on what? Nu, lommer unfangin with the Novee Yishayohu (Prophet Isaiah) who in 55:6 said azoy: “Seek G-d when He is to be found, call out to Him when He is near.” And what does that mean? Efsher you recall that just last week the Oisvorfer told you that it appears that the RBSO has His hours compartmentalized. Seemingly He has tshuva hours as well. Avada the RBSO is always welcoming to those who seek His forgiveness, ober our rabbis teach us that these ten days are especially favorable and those taking advantage of His forgiving mood have a better shot during this period.
And taka said our wise sages azoy: These words teach us that there are times when the RBSO is to be found and times when He is not to be found, times when He is near and times when He is not near. When is He to be found and near? In the ten days between Rosh Hashono and Yom Kippur. Shoin. And just like that, the Aseres Yimay Tshuva were born and eventually of course also turned into a business opportunity – why not- by later generations who figured out that mikveh dipping by itself on erev Yom Kippur, while good economically for the mikveh and others who prey there, was not big enough business. And years later they introduced a new tshuva concept. In this ritual, one we call shlugging-kaporos, we waive innocent chickens over our heads while reciting a prayer. Symbolically, we are transferring our bad deeds and sins over to the unsuspecting chickens who will shortly thereafter meet their demise by being slaughtered. The next time you see that chicken it may be presented as General Tso’s at your favorite Chinese restaurant, ver veyst. How this works, ver veyst ober one thing is zicher; kaporos is big business. From the chicken farmer to the middlemen who deliver them by the case, to the kaporos entrepreneurs and the butchers who get to slaughter them, seemingly many make a decent living. Taka this ritual and business opportunity has for the last 1500 years enjoyed steady growth without serious competition despite the fact that many rabbis have taken the view that this ritual should be avoided. Many suggest that this ritual is rooted in paganism ober try telling that to the millions that still enjoy the cermony. More recently, others have openly opposed this ritual claiming inhumane treatment of the chickens, ver veyst. Seemingly all the rabbis agree that one should not be found using his own chicken at the chicken ranch, if you chap, during this time of year.
More recently, the kaporos business finds itself under attack and is efsher facing an existential threat to its very survival. In hyntige-tzeytin (in today’s times), technology has advanced to the point where one can shlug-kaporos virtually over the Internet. One can? How this works, ver veyst but when it comes to finding interesting ways of mitzvah performance; one has to admire our good friends over at Chabad who are this year offering kaporos on-line. The bottom line: if you send them money, all your sins will be forgiven. Shoin! And taka this past week the Oisvorfer and mistama millions and millions more, received emails promoting on-line kaporos. In this on-line version, one merely recites the same words as in live kaporos and then either waives the keyboard, a cell phone or just a credit card over one’s head. Does this work? Ver veyst? Is the live chicken kaporos business about to be dead and be replaced with a virtual chicken?
Alas, all is not lost: Yom Kippur is mamish but days away and with it comes one last chance to get it right. In baseball jargon, we’re a few days into a rather short playoff series. Those surviving this round will get to pray in the tshuva world series which will be prayed out over a 25 hour period beginning this coming Friday evening when all Yiddin, no matter their religious leanings or affiliation, will find themselves in shul to hear the famous Kol Nidrei followed by the rabbi’s last minute attempt to convince you that you can buy your way out of the mess you created all year by contributing money to the shul. Does that work? Is it taka possible to make a check out to your local shul and buy your way out of trouble? Does the shul pass the money along to the RBSO or to His ministering angels? Does the RBSO accept bribes? Does the heylige Toirah tell us that on Yom Kippur we are to, besides punishing our bodies, also make a serious pledge to our shuls? And if you paid Chabad on-line and transferred your sins to the virtual chicken, must you still donate handsomely to the shul’s appeal, ver veyst? Shoin, so many questions….
We are taught that the RBSO does indeed forgive us if we ask nicely. He seeks our repentance and is willing, in most cases, to give us another shot. Of course He also knows that in the end, many of us will revert back to our unruly behavior. He of course predicted that the Yiddin, His very chosen people, would always revert back to old habits. He was right, He always is. Then again, He did program us that way.
In any event, whether you perform the rituals or not, Yom Kippur is designed for atonement between man and the RBSO and also and maybe just as importantly, between man and man (man and woman as well): one should avada take advantage of the day. And how does one do such tshuva? Says the Rambam azoy: the best way to do tshuva is to reincarnate the scene of the sin and try to avoid sinning a second time. We are to do what? Seemingly, if during the past year or years you sinned (limoshol chas v’sholom) by finding yourself in a compromising position and did a naughty, if you chap, you should return to that very place and position, and if this time you can overcome your desires by not chapping, if you chap, you have done tshuva. Of course this approach rarely works buy one can certainly have fun trying.
And to help facilitate mechila (forgiveness) between man and man, back in 2011, the Oisvorfer provided his readers with a shtar mechila (forgiveness agreement) which has been a givaldige hit. A number of readers actually used it. It was updated in 2012 and again in 2013. It is, by popular demand, back in 2014. Why? Because this year, like last year and the years prior, you mamish pissed off new people. Didn’t you speak loshoin horo (ill) of and about those you can’t stand, those who can’t stand you, your own eishes chayil, your business partners, your neighbors and even your best friends, disgusting low life that you are! You did! How many times have you bad mouthed your own mishpocho? Your own parents, in-laws, siblings, and avada an uncle or even your favorite Tanta (aunt)? Avada you did, and with Yom Kippur, the super bowl of forgiveness quickly approaching, the time to say ‘I’m sorry’ is mamish running out. The time to make amends is mamish now. Yom Kippur, based on extensive reading, seems to be a give and get holiday. If you give, you get. If you give lavishly and freely at the Kol Nidrei appeal, you get a shout out and a receipt. If you give forgiveness to the few or efsher the many that pissed you off during the past year(s), you get, we are taught, consideration from the RBSO; He might also give you a pass for other misdeeds, ver veyst. And when you think about this concept logically, this may well be the best deal or trade you’ve made all year. It’s easy to chap that nothing any friend or collective of friends did or could have done to anger you, is nearly as giferlich as the actions you took during the last year that angered the RBSO. Need I list them for you?
Sadly, this agreement is avada not enforceable in court ober it could break the ice with a person you have not spoken to in years. And why not? We have forms for most loopholes including the; Pruzbill, Heter Iska, Sale of Chometz and even a Shtar Michira to get by the Shmitta hardships; why not a form of Mechila?
Use this form to ask for forgiveness:
1) Sinner’s (your) Name: ________________
2) Where did I meet you: ______________
3) What I allegedly did wrong :________(use additional sheets if necessary, and kindly limit yourself to 10 items or sheets of paper, whichever is shorter).
Note: all instances of Loshoin Horo about one individual are, for Yom Kippur purposes, grouped into one event-
3A- Money issues? _______Amount you claim ______
4) Did I only hurt your feelings?
4A) Did I bad mouth you? Yes?_____How many times?_____ (use additional sheets if needed)
4B Who told you?____
4C) Name, address, cell and email of individual(s) who repeated the Loshoin Horo
4D) I’ll kill that bastard for telling you_____
5) I’m sorry!!
6) are you any better than me?
7) Are you moichel (do you forgive me) me?
8) Get over it!
9) Thank you
Use this form if you are being asked to forgive someone:
1) Sinner’s Name (you) : ________________
2) When was the last time I spoke to you?_______________________
3) Looked at you?______________________________
3a) You disgust me and I despise you!
4) What did you say about me?_______ (one sheet of paper per incident) please
5) List all the people you repeated the loshoin horo to (use additional sheets if necessary)
6) Do you also owe me money?
6a) Yes? How much?
6b) Date of short term loan I gave you__________20___
6c) Number of bounced checks you gave me_________________
6d) Number of times you told me: I’ll pay you shortly?______________
6e) Number of times you crossed the street to avoid me when you saw me walking towards you?_______________________
6f) Number of times you told your spouse and others that you don’t owe me a dime?
7)- Number of times you bad mouthed me despite the fact that I saved your tuchis?
8) Names of people you bad mouthed me to?___________________
9) Are your sorry?____________________
10) I absolutely do not forgive the monies you owe despite the fact that it’s a shmitta year. You owe me and I accept repayment! Because however, I have my own tzuris (issues with the RBSO) and need some special consideration, and because forgiving you may inure to my benefit, I do forgive you, but state again emphatically, that you still owe me the money.
And with that in mind, the Oisvorfer avada begs forgiveness from all of his friends and followers. If he has offended you in any way, it’s likely that you deserved it!
Wishing you all a Gemar Tov and an easy fast-
The Oisvorfer Ruv