Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday's Torah (but not parsha) Tidbits - a Vort on Yom Kippur

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand this evening. As indicated in the title above, the post halacha portion of tonight's shiur was solely about Yom Kippur so there will be no Nitzavim thoughts this week. Still, I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand began the vort by quoting from the famous mishna in Yoma which discussed the training given by the rabbis to the Kohain Gadol before Yom Kippur. The mishna recites that at the end of the training they would make him swear that he would not deviate from the instructions. After he swore the oath, he would leave and cry and they would walk away crying. They would cry because they suspected an innocent and he would cry because he was suspected of being a Tziduki.

R' Frand next quoted the Rambam on Hilchos Yom HaKippurim which recited the entire story again, including the crying by both sides.

R' Frand asked on the Rambam - this is not a historical book - its a book of halachos. Why does the Rambam tell a story, and then tell us about the crying? This is not a halachic question!

R' Frand next quoted a mishna in Meseches Derech Eretz which instructs that when a guest comes to your house you should treat him finely and give him food and drink like you would be hosting Raban Gamliel, but also suspect that he might steal from you. The mishna tells a story about a guest who visited R' Yehoshua. He was hosted and given fine food and then was given lodging on the second floor. At night the man began to steal items from the second floor, but when he wanted to come down from the second floor he fell and broke his leg as R' Yehoshua had removed the ladder at night in case he was a thief. In the morning, R' Yehoshua found him on the floor with a broken leg and a bag of R' Yehoshua's possessions.

Based on this story, the Rishonim asked - why did the Rabbis cry after they suspected the Kohain Gadol? They had an obligation to suspect him because there was a real problem at that time with the Tzidukim. So why did they cry?

R' Frand answered the questions by quoting the Tolner Rebbi who cited the Sfas Emes in explaining a story in the gemara Yoma. The gemara tells that Rav was giving a shiur and people kept coming in late and he would restart the shiur. When R' Chanina, who was the 4th late comer, came in - Rav did not restart the shiur. R' Chanina got upset about this and felt that he was being disrespected. Rav then went to him for 13 Yom Kippurim to ask forgiveness, but was turned down each time.

The Sfas Emes asked - why did not Rav need to go and apologize? Rav was in the right, he did not need to restart the shiur for a fourth time, merely because another person came in very late. If someone does something wrong to you and your Rav agrees that he was wrong, why should you ask mechila?

The Sfas Emes explains that all year long if someone is wrong and you are right, you are not obligated to ask mechila. But that is for all year long. But Yom Kippur is different. R' Frand quoted the Tanna Dvei Eliyahu on the words "Vlo Echad Meyhem" in Tehillim 139 - there is one day a year that the Satan does not have impact on us - that is Yom Kippur. But on that day we need to be different by building achdus.

This is the reason why Rav only went to ask mechila on Erev Yom Kippur, and he did it every year in that day. Rav was right and he was wrong. But on Yom Kippur we must make shalom - not because Rav was wrong, but because its a day of achdus.

Similarly, this is the reason that the Rabbis cried after suspecting Kohain Gadol. They did their job exactly the way that they were required to. But still, it causes dissension and that's why they cried.

This is also why the Rambam tells the story - because if one causes pirud on Yom Kippur its not good - it is antithetical to the sense of achdus. The mission on Yom Kippur is to try to make shalom, even if you did nothing wrong, do what you can to bring the Jews together on this day.

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