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Yoma 86

YOMA 59-88 have been dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Simcha Bekelnitzky (Simcha Gedalya ben Shraga Feibush) of Queens N.Y. by his wife and daughters. Well known in the community for his Chesed and Tzedakah, he will long be remembered.


AGADAH: Rebbi Elazar points out a contradiction in the verse in which the 13 attributes of Hashem's mercy are listed (Shemos 34:7). The verse describes Hashem as "v'Nakeh" -- "Who cleanses [a person of his sins]," implying that Hashem grants atonement. However, the very next words say, "Lo Yenakeh" -- "He does not cleanse," implying that He does not grant atonement! Rebbi Elazar answers that it depends whether a person does Teshuvah. When a person repents and does Teshuvah, Hashem cleanses him of his sins, but when a person does not repent, Hashem does not cleanse him of his sins. The BNEI YISASCHAR uses this Gemara to demonstrate a principle taught by RAV DOV BER ("the Magid") of MEZRITCH, a close disciple of the Ba'al Shem Tov (quoted in Magid Devarav l'Yakov #147, Arvei Nachal Parshas Vayetzei, and elsewhere), and which is discussed at length by RAV LEVI YITZCHAK of BERDITCHEV (Kedushas Levi Parshas Ki Sisa).

Rav Dov Ber of Mezritch proposes that the 13 attributes of Hashem's mercy ("13 Midos Rachamim," as enumerated in Rosh ha'Shanah 17b) correspond to the 13 exegetical tools with which laws are derived from the Torah ("13 Midos sheha'Torah Nidreshes ba'Hen," as set forth in the beginning of Toras Kohanim, and as printed in all Sidurim before the Shacharis service).

Rav Dov Ber of Mezritch explains that the first of the Midos through which laws are derived from the Torah is the Midah of "Kal v'Chomer." This corresponds to the first Midah of the 13, which is the word "Kel" (G-d's name). ("Kel" is the first of the 13 Midos, according to the Arizal. In addition, the Mekubalim write that the 13 Midos of Rachamim are alluded to in the verses of "Mi Kel Kamocha" (Michah 7:18-20), as discussed by the TOMER DEVORAH. The first Midah mentioned in that verse is also "Kel.") This correlation is alluded to in the Torah in the prayer of Moshe Rabeinu on behalf of his sister, Miriam, when she was smitten with Tzara'as. In order to arouse Hashem's mercy for her, Moshe prayed for her with the name, "Kel" -- "Kel Na Refa Na Lah" (Bamidbar 12:13). Hashem replied with a Kal v'Chomer ("Im Aviha Yarok Yarak...," see Bereishis Rabah 92:7; Rashi, Bamidbar 12:14), to teach Moshe that in order to arouse the Midah of "Kel," one should apply the Midah of Kal v'Chomer. Similarly, adds Rav Levi Yitzchak (Kedushas Levi Parshas Ki Sisa), Chazal derive that the dead will be brought back to life from a Kal v'Chomer (Sanhedrin 91a; "Those that never were come to life, certainly those that already were will come to life!"; when Miryam was afflicted with Tzara'as Aharon said to Moshe, "Do not let her be like a dead person...," Bamidbar 12:12).

The second of the 13 Midos is "Gezeirah Shavah," which corresponds to "Rachum" (according to the Arizal's method of counting the Midos). A person arouses his mercy, Rachamim, for a pauper by putting himself in the others' shoes, or equating himself to the poor person -- in short, a "Gezeirah Shavah." (Kedushas Levi, ibid.)

The last of the 13 Midos of Rachamim is "v'Nakeh," the subject of our Gemara. This Midah corresponds to the last of the 13 Midos sheha'Torah Nidreshes ba'Hen, which is the principle of "Shenei Kesuvim ha'Mach'chishim Zeh Es Zeh..." -- "when two verses contradict one another, a third verse compromises between them, resolving the contradiction." The Bnei Yisaschar (Chodesh Elul 2:8), citing his Mechutan, Rav Tzvi Hirsh of Ziditchov explains that this can be seen in our Gemara. The Gemara shows that when the Torah says "v'Nakeh" and then says "Lo Yenakeh," the two statements of the Torah seemingly contradict each other. The Gemara resolves this contradiction by relying on a third verse, which teaches the concept of Teshuvah ("v'Shavta Ad Hashem Elokecha," Devarim 30:2). Thus, it is the thirteenth Midah she'ha'Torah Nidreshes Bah which teaches us the meaning of the thirteenth Midah of Rachamim! (See also Ma'amarei Rosh Chodesh 4:3, Elul 2:7, Magid Ta'alumah Berachos 34a, and many other places in the works of the Bnei Yisaschar.)

RAV DAVID COHEN, shlit'a, in MAS'AS KAPAI (on Tefilah) adds that perhaps this is one reason why we recite the 13 Midos sheha'Torah Nidreshes ba'Hen before Pesukei d'Zimra each morning -- in order to arouse Hashem's 13 attributes of mercy.


OPINIONS: The Gemara cites an argument regarding whether or not it is beneficial for a person to confess his old sins each year, even though he confessed them in previous years. According to the Tana Kama, to confess one's old sins is revolting, while according to Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov, doing so is praiseworthy. According to the Tana Kama, why should confessing one's old sins be considered revolting? And what is the proper way to conduct oneself in practice?

RABEINU YONAH (end of Sha'arei Teshuvah) explains that there are three different ways that one might confess for his sin's of previous years.

(a) If one only mentions the sins of previous years and does not mention any sins of the most recent year, this is certainly improper and it is even revolting. It is as if the person is saying that he considers himself to be righteous and free of sin except for those sins which he committed in previous years. Not only is his confession not the humbling element of Viduy which it was meant to be, but it becomes a display of arrogance.

(b) Even if a person mentions new sins together with the old ones, it is still not proper to mention the old sins, according to the Tana Kama, because by doing so one shows that he does not have confidence that Hashem pardons those who do Teshuvah.

(c) However, if a person makes reference to previous sins by mentioning merely a general statement that he sinned to Hashem in years past, without specifying the particular transgressions, this is a proper manner of confessing, and this is what a person is supposed to do each year. One advantage of confessing for past sins in this manner is that in case one has not yet repented sufficiently for his sins of last year, by confessing them again this year in a general manner he repents more for them. Second, it might have been decreed upon him to suffer afflictions as a result of his sins, and those afflictions have not yet come upon him; by confessing his sins in a general way, he might be able to lessen the severity of the afflictions. Third, perhaps he did not remember his transgressions at the time he confessed during previous years. Now that he remembers them, he is able to do Teshuvah for them.

If so, why need one not specify the sins? Rabeinu Yonah explains that specifying one's sins is a part of the Mitzvah of Viduy; it is not a prerequisite for atonement in its own right. Since last year he already performed the Mitzvah of Viduy, he does not have to do it again; he just has to repent by mentioning that he sinned and resolving not to sin again.

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