epar62102.doc This concept can best be understood with the following Mashal: A
בס"דman once had a son who was a hopeless drunk. Almost every day
PARASHAT HASHAVUA the father would find his son lying in a squalid gutter, his clothing
filthy, and his demeanor shameful. The father would lift the son,
carry him home, put him to bed, and let him sleep of his
drunkenness. Yet, when the son awake, he did not give mind to the
shameful act he committed, since he awoke washed in a clean bed
with clean clothing. In a short time, he was back to the taverns–and
PARASHA : YOM KIPPUR the inevitable gutter.
The poor father was besides himself with worry. He could not see
Date :10 Tishri 5762, 27/9/2001 any cure for his son, and decided to consult a certain scholar in his
“The Best of Parashat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list neighborhood. After disclosing the troubling situation of his son, the
subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for scholar replied, “If you continue to treat your son in this manner, he
members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu (Editor: Arieh Yarden) will never be cured. When you carry him home, if you put him to bed,
Dedicated to the loving memory of Avi Mori remove his filthy clothing, wash him, and dress him in clean clothing–
Moshe Reuven ben Yaakov z”l he will only see that everything is normal in his life when he awakens.
Please respect the Holiness of these pages He will not see the shame of his actions. Rather, when you carry
These pages are also sent out weekly via the internet in MS Word him home and put him to bed, do nothing else. Let him awaken in the
format. Anyone interested in receiving them, please feel feee to morning filthy, disoriented, and a shame even to himself. Only then,
contact me at the following email address: email@example.com - will he comprehend his scandalous behavior. The entire year the
Arieh. Yetzer Harah (evil inclination) keeps on after a man, not allowing him
to awake from his drunkenness. Man goes from bad to worse, not
1 NYCI (Block)
NCYI Weekly Divrei Torah, From:Kenneth Block (firstname.lastname@example.org)
realizing the shame of his actions. Yet, on Yom Kippur, when the
Prosecutor has no license to incrim inate and prosecute, should we
Rabbi Moshe M. Greebel Associate Member, YICR not awake and realize the long list of transgressions he has put
PERSPECTIVES FROM THE MAGGID ON YOM KIPPUR: before the Heavenly Throne, feel the shame, and repent
More than any other Yom Tov, Yom Kippur requires the most immediately?
elaborate preparation – a preparation that is forty days in the making. And so, the Maggid has taught us that our labors must continue
Commencing in Elul, the previous month, the Shofar is intoned in the on the high seas of Yom Kippur–seas packed with the unlimited
synagogue, additional Tefillos (prayers) are added, le ngthy Selichos dangers of decrees being sealed–untolerable decrees.
(supplication prayers) are recited, on Rosh Hashanah the Shofar is One last Mashal from the Maggid on continuing our labors on
sounded, the Aseres Yemei Teshuva (ten days of repentance) are Yom Kippur: A wealthy man once sent his son on an excursion to
experienced, Tashlich (symbolically casting one’s transgressions into visit many different countries and provinces, in the hope that the son
the sea) is accomplished together wit h Kapporos (symbolically would gain worldly wisdom from every place he visited. Prior to his
transferring one’s transgressions), a large meal is eaten prior to son leaving, the father supplied the young man with a goodly am ount
sunset on Erev Yom Kippur, and the great fast is undertaken. of travel expense money, and said to him, “Remember, I expect you
Yet, these are only the physical preparations for Yom Kippur. to write to me from every country you visit!” After promising to do this,
How does one approach such an austere day spiritually and the young man took leave of his father, and began his journey.
psychologically? The Dubno Maggid (Preacher of Dubno), Rav One area which the son visited, had a very quaint inn, in which
Ya’akov Kranz, of blessed memory (1741-1804), supplies us with the best spirits were served – along with a variety of other vices.
some inter esting insights to this question through the clever and witty Seeing an ‘out of towner’ in his establishment, the innkeeper made
art of the Mashal (parable). The following are some of the Maggid’s friends with the young man, got him quite drunk, and i ntroduced him
thoughts:. to a world of debauchery. The days stretched into weeks, and the
The Novi (prophet) states to Klal Yisrael, “Gather yourselves weeks into months–the young man becoming a long term tenant of
together, gather together, undesirable nation. Before the day you the innkeeper. At home, the father wondered why in such a lengthy
pass away as the chaff, before the fierce anger of HaShem is upon time, no word came from his son. Having made certain inquiries, the
you, before the day when the fierce anger of HaShem is upon you.” father discovered the young man’s whereabouts, and undertook a
[Tzefania 2:1-2] journey to his son. When the son awoke on a particular morning–
The explanation of these words can best be understood if we dishevel ed, filthy, and hung-over, he was shocked senseless to see
imagine great shipbuilders and sea voyagers, who construct for his father standing before him. So great was the shame of the young
themselves a great ship to traverse the oceans. Now, the man, that he broke down in front of his father, and cried like a baby,
tremendous undertaking of building a large sea vessel is done on pleading for forgiveness.
land whi ch is situated close to the sea. After the laborious task of The entire year, while steeped in our own form of drunkenness,
constructing the vessel has finally come to its end, the structure must we seem not to remember to keep in close contact with our Father in
be transferred to the water – an undertaking which is inordinately Heaven. We drift, and cannot rise above the diurnal muck we make
physically demanding. When this task has been complet ed, the for ourselves. Yet, one day a year – Yom Kippur – a day when our
vessel sits partially on land, and partially in shallow water – unable to Father frees us from the Prosecutor – HaKodesh Baruch Hu Himself
venture any further. At this juncture, the sailing masters and sailors comes to visit us–to inquire as to our welfare. Should we not feel the
must continue the demanding process of getting the vessel into deep shame of our transgressions and repent forthwith on this day?
waters. Here we stand – on the eve of Yom Kippur. How shall we enter
When our group of shipbuilders at last completed their tasks, one the great fast? What thoughts must we think? What thoughts must we
of the mariners called out to the others, “Now, we deserve to stop our not think? But most importantly we must realize that we stand on the
work and rest, for we have come to deep water!” pinnacle, the summit, of a forty day process, that has l ed us here.
On board however, was one clever old salt who replied, “You are To have gotten so far, only to “drop the ball” at this stage, would be
fools to listen to this! When we labored hard to construct this vessel, nothing less than iniquitous.
to transfer it to the sea, to bring it out of shallow waters–none of us Let us then devote our entire beings to the magnificent gift of
were in any danger. Now that we sit on the hi gh seas–we sit in a Selicha VeChaparah (forgiveness) which has been bestowed upon
situation of extreme danger–for the sea is unpredictable! And now us this and every Yom Kippur. Let us comprehend where we stand
you wish to rest, and discontinue your labors?” at present, and where we should actually be. Let us continue to
The thought here is that from Rosh Chodesh Elul, we labor with labor devotedly in Torah and Mizvot. And, as a result of these merits,
the physical preparations of Yom Kippur–a time when there is no let us see the Geulah Shelaima (the complete redemption), speedily
danger of a bad decree, chas vechalila, being sealed against us. in our days.
Now, that we stand in the deep waters of Yom Kippur itself–wh en
that decree can be sealed against us–can we actually assume that
we may sit back and relax without continuing our labors?
2 -PROJECT GENESIS
The Jewish Learning Network Email: email@example.com URL: http://www.torah.org/
Now, on Rosh HaShanah all things are decreed – who will live A). YOM TOV _ Rabbi Yehudah Prero
and who will die, who will wax wealthy and who will be poor, who will TIPPING THE SCALES WITH TORAH
die by fire, water, etc. Yet, bear in mind that the difference between Rosh HaShana has passed. Yom Kippur is approaching. Our
Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur is the difference betwe en the child time to tip the scales in our favor is ebbing away. The High Holiday
in the belly of its mother, and the child being born. While in the belly prayers state that repentance, prayer, and charity can remove an evil
of its mother, it is altogether possible that the child will change decree from upon us. We want G-d to judge us positively, to give us
genders from male to female–as occurred with Dinah, the daughter of the benefit of any doubt that there may be about our devotion to Him.
Yaakov (See Berachos, 60a). No netheless, once the child is born, "In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor." (Vayikra 19:15)
how is it possible for a change of gender to occur? This commandment dictates that we give our neighbor the benefit of
This is the very difference between Rosh HaShanah and Yom the doubt, that we assume he or she acted correctly or properly. Rav
Kippur. On Rosh HaShanah we recite, “Today the world was Yitzchak Hutner zt"l discusses the parameters of this dictate. The
conceived” – the prenatal stage where change may occur. Yet, we lengths to which we must judge our fellow man favorably depends on
also recite, “On Rosh HaShanah (the decrees) will be transcribed, the person being judged. For example, if the person is average, with
and on Y om Kippur they will be sealed’–the stage of birth, where an equal possibility that he or she could or could not have performed
change occurs no more. This is precisely what the Navi states when a misdeed, we must view the person favorably. In addition, this
he says, “Gather yourselves together, gather together, undesirable dictate only applies before we become aware that a person actually
nation. Before the day you pass away as the chaff...” did sin. Before we have any specific knowledge, we must view the
Now, it is well known that in this period prior to Yom Kippur, the person favorably. However, once we are aware that the person did
Heavenly Prosecuter labors very diligently to incriminate Klal Yisrael. commit a transgression, we no longer have an obligation to judge the
He prosecutes laboriously at this time, because he is not permitted to person favorably. We have no obligation to believe that the person
prosecute on Yom Kippur itself (see Yoma 20a ). After this heavy rectified his or her misdeed.
arraignment of the Prosecuter, should we ourselves not approach There is, however, an exception to this rule. The Talmud
HaKadosh Baruch Hu on the deep waters of Yom Kippur, and (Brachos 19a) teaches "If you see a scholar who has committed an
continue our labors by sincerely saying “We have sinned!”? offence by night, do not think bad of him at him by day, for
perhaps he has done penance." The commandment to judge one's to the context of the fearlessness, we are now brought into the direct
neighbor favorably has an added dimension when applied to a Torah circumstance where this security is felt. The setting here (explicated
scholar. One is not merely obligated to assume that any given yet more overtly in the next verse) is one of war - which heightens our
person, without knowing anything specific about the person, is curiosity as to the propriety of this psalm to the season of Elul
righteous. A person is further obligated to assume that if a Torah through Sukkot.
scholar has acted improperly, the scholar has repented as well. This verse utilizes three words for enemies (m're'im, tzarai, oyvai
What is of note is that this additional obligation does not apply by li) which neatly parallel the three words/terms used to describe the
any other form of righteous action. It does not apply to people who security of God's Presence in the previous verse (ori, yish'i, ma'oz
excel in the giving of charity. It does not apply to people whose hayyay).
prayers are constantly pure and soulful. It does not apply to people The final two words - stumble and fall (kash'lu v'naphalu) are
who are scrupulous in their honesty and integrity. It applies only to utilized in war contexts throughout T'nakh (e.g. Vayyikra 26:36-37).
those who study Torah diligently, with dedication and devotion to all 3. Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not
the commandments contained within. Only the "Talmid Chacham" fear; though war should rise against me, even then I will be
gets this additional degree of favorable judgement. confident.
Our judgement day has arrived. As we all know, we are not The casual reader often assumes the second word (tahaneh) to
perfect. We have all strayed to some degree from the straight and be second person male singular - to wit: "If you encamp", but it
righteous path that G-d has set forth for us. Yet, we have also lived neither makes sense given the sympathetic audience, nor is it
much of our lives properly, trying to be the just, compassionate, and supported by the second stich. Rather, since Mahaneh (camp) is a
G-d fearing people that we know we should be. What can we do to feminine noun, the word Tahaneh is to be understood as third person
throw the balance in our favor? What can we do to illustrate that we feminine singular (as translated above). Thus, the (army) camp (in
are people who sincerely desire to do the right thing. We have clearly the first stich) and its parallel "war" (in the second stich) are both
seen the power of dedicating ourselves to Torah. It casts upon us a treated as active.
positive light, an aura of righteousness. Just as we must judge our 4. One thing have I desired of Hashem, that I will seek after; that I
fellow man with an extra degree of favor if the person is dedicated to may dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of my life, to
Torah, G-d will do the same. Come Yom Kippur, we should be able to behold the beauty of Hashem, and l'vaqer in His temple.
say to G-d that we are truly dedicated to His Torah and the precepts Given the doubled stress ("One thing...that I will seek" - Ahat
contained therein. We should be considered scholars of Torah, and sha'alti...otah avaqesh), it is proper to understand the word "only" in
judged accordingly. translation: There is only one thing that I ask of God, that is what I will
We should start, right now, to take concrete steps to make this seek after...
dedication a reality. We can commit to attending Torah classes. We While the sentiment of this verse is, to say the least, both noble
can set up Torah study sessions with a partner. We can devote time and inspiring (and the source of many beautiful songs), it seems to
to study the weekly Torah portion in its entirety, using the Internet as border on religious "over-confidence" (arrogance?). The psalmist is
a guide. A myriad of opportunities are out there. Lets take advantage so assured of his physical safety as ensured by God's Presence, that
of one, and do that one to perfection. May we all merit to be judged he seems to take that for granted - and can turn his attention to his
as "Talmidai Chachamim" this year. one true desire. We will yet address this mercurial expression of
B). P’SHUTO SHEL MIKRA (Rabbi Yitz Etshalom) emotion.
PSALM 27 - HASHEM ORI V'YISH'I Although the psalmist stresses that he has only one request -
I INTRODUCTION note that there are six components to the request (dwell in the house,
Beginning on the first day of Elul, nearly all communities begin behold the beauty, l'vaqer, hide me, protect me, set me upon a rock).
reciting Psalm 27 ("God is my Light and Salvation") twice daily, This is not unusual, since all six are aspects of the one basic request
continuing through the end of Sukkot. In Eretz Yisra'el, the custom is - to maintain this level of intense cleaving to God, as expressed both
to continue through Hosha'na Rabba (21 Tishri) and in the Diaspora in physical security and spiritual enlightenment.
the recitation continues through Sh'mini 'Atzeret (22 Tishri). As we mentioned in the comments on the superscription, this
(Parenthetically, this is the only custom - of which I'm aware - which verse has much to tell us about the authorship of the psalm - or does
binds together the reflective season of Elul with the festivities of it? At first glance, one might argue that any mention of Beit Hashem
Sukkot). Although all traditions who recite it exclusively during this and Heikhalo militate strongly against Davidic composition, since the
season (the Vilna Ga'on did not recite it, due to his general principle Bayit (and Heikhal) were not built until after his death. This proof,
of only reciting one "Psalm of the day" per day; some eastern however, may be used against itself. Since the psalmist experiences
communities recite this Psalm every day of the year) include the such intrepidity in the face of danger, conquering the only obstacle
recitation during Shaharit (at some point after the Shir Shel Yom), the with which he is challenged, the only thing left to desire is the one
second recitation is subject to different customs. Ashkenazim say it thing withheld from him (see II Sh'mu'el chapter 7). As such, l'David
after 'Arvit, whereas Hasidim and S'pharadim recite it after Minhah. is most easily rendered "of David", i.e. authored by David.
Significantly, there is no mention of this custom anywhere in the Notice that I haven't translated the word l'vaqer; it is not only
literature of the Rishonim (and certainly not in Rabbinic literature); it difficult to translate, but what is the most likely translation gives us an
first appears in a Siddur published by R. Shabtai of Raskov (1788). opportunity to expand our awareness of the beauty of Hebrew.
Nonetheless, as noted above, the custom of reciting it during this The various times of day are not depicted by arbitrary words;
season is nearly universal and almost assuredly predates the late- rather, they relate to the opportunities afforded by that time. Since the
18th century. Generally, the custom is associated with the Midrash, central utility which shifts during the hours of the day is visual acuity,
which appears much earlier than the custom, which interprets the that is the central emphasis in the Hebrew words used to define this
opening line as a reference to the highlight of the season: time.
(another interpretation: ) the Rabbis interpret the verse as Ramban (Sh'mot 12:6) maintains that the three terms 'erev,
referring to Rosh haShanah and Yom haKippurim. [Hashem is] my boker, tzohorayim cover all times of the day (based on Psalms
Light on Rosh haShana, which is the day of judgment, as it says: And 55:18).
He shall bring forth your righteousness like the light, and your As R. Avraham ibn Ezra (B'resheet 1:5) explains, the word Erev
judgment like the noonday. (T'hillim 37:6). My Salvation on Yom (evening) is anchored in the same root - 'RB, which means "to mix, to
haKippurim, when He saves us and forgives us for all of our combine" (hence - 'Eruv, a mixing of ownership of property; the verb
wrongdoings (Midrash T'hillim 27:3). 'arev, to mix its homophonic noun 'arev - a co-signer, who has
In this essay, we will address two interrelated issues: The admixed his responsibilities with that of the borrower.). This is a time
"sense" of the psalm and its propriety to the season. As will soon be of day when it becomes hard to distinguish various items from each
demonstrated, identifying the coherence of the chapter is no easy other (e.g. a pole and a man); the lack of visual acuity leads to a
matter - it seems, prima facie, to be two unrelated psalms that were "mixture" of sensory input as it is translated by the brain. As ibn Ezra
"fused" together. As we review the text, we will note the point at himself states: yit'arvu bo hatzurot - various forms become
which "Psalm A" becomes "Psalm B" - after which, we will intermingled at this time.
demonstrate the literary coherence of the psalm and then address The middle of the day, tzohorayim, comes from the root TzHR,
the thematic integration - which will help us understand the (and its variant ZHR), meaning "gleam" - that is the time when the
association with this season of Elul-Tishri. light is strongest and clearest. According to Ramban (ibid.), the
II THE TEXT - TRANSLATION AND COMMENTS paired form (tzohorayim) is used because there are two hours at the
l'David. 1. Hashem is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I middle of the day which most properly take this name.
fear? Hashem is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be The root BQR means "investigate" (cf. Vayyikra 19:20). The first
afraid? time of day when visual investigation becomes possible is after
As we pointed out in our analysis of Psalm 47, the sunrise - hence, the morning is called Boqer.
"superscription" which appears as the heading of many of the psalms As a result of various stages of this philology, some
need not be understood in a uniform manner. Whereas some commentators (Rashi, Ibn Ezra) read the phrase l'vaqer b'Heikhalo
superscriptions indicate dedication (e.g. 122, 72) and others may as "to visit His Sanctuary every morning" (taking the applied meaning
point to composition with a particular group of Levite musicians in of bqr); however, others (Radak, Me'iri) understand it as "to cogitate"
mind (e.g. Sa'adiah's explanation of "T'fillah l'Mosheh" - #90, as well - i.e. to contemplate the various aspects of Godliness. This
as one suggestion of the Korahide psalms), the most conventional explanation, favored by modern commentators as well, fits more
and "straightest" explanation is that the superscription operates as a comfortably with the use of the root as a verb (using the verb as
colophon which identifies the author of the psalm. Further on (at v. 4), connected with "morning" is unattested in T'nakh). In addition, it fits
we will assay the likelihood of that approach here. contextually, as the single request increases in intensity:
The psalm opens with a parallelism (light:salvation) within a 1) to sit in God's House
parallelism (light/salvation : strength of my life). The tone here is one 2) to gaze at the beauty of God
of confidence - which will grow as we proceed through the psalm. 3) to contemplate His Presence (or His teachings - see the elliptic
Note that God is not being addressed here; rather it is an audience comment of Me'iri).
(or a musing) who hears these praises of God and of the security, 5. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in Sukkoh (His
enabled by God's Presence, experienced and extolled by the pavilion); under the cover of His tent shall He hide me; He shall
psalmist. set me up upon a rock.
2. When the wicked, my enemies and my adversaries, came This is the continuation of the "one request" introduced in the
upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. previous verse. Parallel to the three aspects of nearness to God
Whereas the first verse gave us no direct information as 2 expressed in v. 4, this verse highlights three forms of protection
from enemies which the psalmist expects God to employ on his likely, he would have been "lost").
behalf. The first of the three protections (his pavilion) serves as the 14. Wait on Hashem; be of good courage, and He shall
hook on which to hang the extension of the recitation through Sukkot. strengthen your heart; and wait on Hashem.
The "rock" mentioned here likely refers to a cropping of rocks This final verse is hard to assimilate into either "Psalm B" or
which forms a natural fortress and protection from the enemy. This is "Psalm A". It doesn't reflect a prayerful stance, as in "B", addressed
also known as a M'tzad (see Shoftim 6:2). to God; neither is it exuberant and confident as in "A". It is, rather,
6. And now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies around exhortative to the (probably) receptive audience. This leaves us with
me; therefore I will offer in His tent sacrifices of joy; I will sing, I two questions regarding this verse - to which section of the psalm
will make music to Hashem. does it belong and what are we to make of the doubled phrase Kaveh
The reasonable conclusion of all of this praise is to offer el Hashem? However we might translate Kaveh (hope, wait, pray,
thanksgiving to God. The mention of the tent (as opposed to "the long for, anticipate etc.), it is the only repeated phrase in the psalm; a
House") serves as added support for Davdic composition, as the Ark phenomenon which deserves our attention.
was housed in a tent during his rule. III LITERARY CLUES TOWARDS TEXTUAL INTEGRATION
At this point, we have reached the conclusion of "Psalm A". The All of the information presented so far points us towards the "two-
first and final words in this section are God's Name - and the entire psalm" approach; two independent psalms, one a petition and the
piece is of one tone (confident) and one address (an audience of other an exaltation, were merged into one unit. In spite of the
supporters or allies). evidence presented thus far, this approach is hard to maintain even
Observe how dramatically and suddenly everything shifts as we without the literary clues we will utilize further on. Why would anyone
begin "Psalm B": combine two psalms which are so different in tone and address,
7. Hear, Hashem, when I cry with my voice; be gracious to me, creating one confusing hybrid? The vast difference between "Psalm
and answer me. A" and "Psalm B", ironically, lends support to textual unity.
The psalmist turns to God, turning his back on an audience (if it Beyond that, however, here are some significant observations
exists at all) and is begging for Divine grace. Not only is the tone one regarding the literary structure and deliberate use of words which
of supplication, but the psalmist is even unsure of God's readiness to serve to clearly tie the two sections together.
hear his prayer. 1) As the attached chart (see the .pdf version on our website) shows,
8. Of You my heart said, "Seek My face"; Your face, Hashem, will even though the two halves are imbalanced in number of verses, they
I seek! have the identical amount of phrases (I am using the schema
He continues to introduce his prayer with this justification - he is, suggested by Rav Elhanan Samet, whose observations form the core
to wit, impelled to seek out God and to pray to Him as it is the of this shiur.)
incessant urging of his heart which has driven him so. 2) God's Name appears six times in each half - thus increasing the
9. Hide not Your face from me; put not Your servant away in sense of deliberate balance between the sections.
anger; You have been my help; do not abandon me, nor forsake 3) Perhaps most telling, there are a significant number of words
me, O God of my salvation. which are repeated in both halves - including some words which are
Note how drastically the tone varies from the earlier exaltation - relatively uncommon in T'nakh. What makes the textual unity at once
the psalmist has angered God and faces the worst possible clearer while increasing our confusion is the dialectic method in which
consequence: The hiding of the Divine Countenance (see D'varim the same word is used in each half. For instance, in v. 1, the psalmist
31:17-18). The fear of experiencing a manifestation of deus declares that God is "my salvation" - as part of trumpeting his
abscondum is explicated as God abandoning & forsaking the confidence in his virtual invulnerability. In v. 9, in contradistinction,
psalmist. God who is "the God of my salvation" is beseeched not to turn away
10. For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but Hashem and expose the psalmists vulnerability. The same tzarai who "bite the
will take me up. dust" in v. 2 are the tzarai who threaten to eat the psalmist alive in v.
It is unclear whether this verse is part of the prayer or an aside, 12. A most convincing example of this method of ironic repetition is
reflecting the psalmist's hope that it will be answered. In any case, the use of the root STR. In v. 5, the psalmist is confident that God
the sense of desperation and isolation is intensified here, as all will hide him in the folds of His tent; in v. 9, the psalmist begs God not
"safety nets" have been removed and the psalmist has only one hope to hide His countenance from him.
left to him - "we can only turn to our Father in Heaven". We have, so far, demonstrated that this psalm should be treated,
11. Teach me Your way, Hashem, and lead me on a level path, after all, as one textual unit, made up of three sections; vv. 1-6, 7-13
because of my enemies. and v. 14. That raises the bar significantly, for we now have to
It is curious that the psalmist, in his return to the direct-address explain the vast difference in tone (and address) between the two
prayer, pleads for God's direction (certainly a noble request) with less halves and the purpose and meaning of the epilogue.
than noble motivations. Instead of asking that God lead him on the IV THE SOLUTION
proper path for its own sake, or to become closer to God, his focus is The relationship between God and Man, while multi-faceted and
utilitarian and defensive. He hopes that his enemies will wither away constantly shifting, admits of two poles - "God seeking Man" and
when they sense God's Presence in his life due to the instruction he "Man seeking God".
receives. His motivation highlights the desperation he feels, that There are times in the life of the individual - and of the nation -
even proximity to God is chiefly viewed as a vehicle to safety. when God addresses Man, seeking him out and making His
12. Do not give me up to the will of my enemies; for false Presence felt in all of its immanent power. The model for this
witnesses have risen up against me, and they breathe out overpowering meeting is the Stand at Sinai, when God "descended"
violence. on Mount Sinai, which was then covered with a thick cloud as smoke,
Some render Nephesh ("will") as "throat", claiming that the fire, lightning and the sound of the Shofar were felt by the entire
imagery utilized here is one of the enemy swallowing up his prey; nation at the foot of the mountain. (see Sh'mot 19, 20:15, 24:16-17
although an unnecessary extravagance, this picturesque approach is and Mekhilta at 20:15). This is similar to the experience of a
poetically attractive. The final phrase viY'fe'ach Hamas is often coronation, when the king, in all of his splendor and glory, is
rendered "breath violence" (as here), understanding the penultimate presented to the people with fanfare, pomp and circumstance.
word as associated with the root NPhCh. The form belies this, and There are times when Man has to set out, in quiet solitude and
the suggestion has been raised, both based on the parallelism within with no assurances, to seek God. No earthquake, conflagration or
the verse and a common use in Ugaritic, that we understand the tornado highlights the meeting - Man is listening for the still, small
meaning of Y'fe'ach as "witness". This meaning is possibly attested to Voice. There are oft-times in life when it feels as if God's Presence
in Mishlei 14:25. has waned and the burden falls upon us to seek Him out. The model
13. Were it not that I believe I should see the goodness of for this "timid" meeting is, ironically, atop the same mountain. After
Hashem in the land of the living. the initial giving of the Torah, with all of the commotion cited above,
This verse is awkward any way it may be read. [Those who the B'nei Yisra'el eventually violated the covenant and built a golden
suggest an emendation of the first word Lulei do so unnecessarily; a calf, which they idolized. When the various stages of Mosheh's
brief foray into the various forms of speech in T'nakh will clarify the supplication to God that He spare the nation were completed, he was
strange construction here.] The conditional clause is present, to wit: told to ascend the mountain again to renew the covenant. This time,
If I hadn't held my faith... but the consequence is missing. What however, there was no shofar blast, no smoke, fire or lightning.
would have happened had the psalmist wavered in his belief? The Mosheh was not entering a Divine cloud which had descended;
next verse does nothing to satisfy our discomfort - at no point is the rather, Mosheh himself had to ascend the mountain, seeking out God
conditional resolved. and His forgiveness.
It is, however, not all that strange to find similarly elliptical Each half of our psalm reflects the station of a person found in
statements in T'nakh. The usual form of an oath, taken by the either of these poles of the continuum in this relationship. The first
challenged party (as opposed to administered by an officiant), half ("Psalm A") is sung by someone who is engulfed in God's
includes an oath-formula introduction (usually invoking a reference to Presence, hearing the shofar, surrounded by the Divine cloud, with
God), the word Im (if) and the opposite of the truth statement to which nary a thought of outside threats (which cease to exist) and only a
he is attesting. For example, when Ya'akov and Lavan formalize their deep yearning to make this station permanent.
separation pact at Gal-Ed, Lavan states: The second half ("Psalm B") is the prayer of a person who feels
If you shall afflict my daughters, or if you shall take other wives isolated, desperate and far from God, seeking Him out at every
beside my daughters, although no man is with us, God is witness juncture, terrified by the possibility of failure and begging God not to
between me and you. (B'resheet 31:50). turn from him.
Lavan never states what will happen if Ya'akov violates the pact. Although we have "aligned" the two opposing halves with the
That is the form of oaths - to leave the punishment unstated. This poles of the relationship between God and Man, we have yet to
may be done to increase the anxiety relating to a violation or merely explain why they are presented in one (deliberately) unified text. The
to avoid stating such a terrible consequence; either way, an epilogue, in the light of the questions we asked on that final verse,
undesirable and terrifying result of a presently hypothetical situation will be the key to our answer.
(e.g. violating an oath, losing faith) need not be explicated. The The two poles of this relationship - the overwhelming distance
ellipses serve a greater purpose, leaving the unstated punishment and the overwhelming Presence - share one common feature. Both
looming over the head of the speaker. inhere the danger, for Man, of losing his bearings in this, the most
In our case, the psalmist is averring that if he were to lose his important relationship in which he is engaged.
faith in ultimately seeing God (or however we understand the end of The man who has been met by God, in all of His glory, can fall
the verse), something awful would have befallen him (most 3 into the trap of believing that it can never be different. This total
envelopment in God's Presence, expressed by Haza"l in such dividing between yourselves and your God' (Yishayahu 59:2).
statements as "He held the mountain over them like a pot" (following He implores and prays, but is not answered... He performs
Mahara"l's explanation), "For every word uttered by God, their souls mitzvot, and these are thrown back in his face... Today, [in
fled their bodies" etc. can lead Man to feel that he never need to the wake of the process of teshuva,] he cleaves to the
worry about suffering from distance. This is always a source of Man's Shekhina... He cries out and is answered immediately... He
downfall - as he cannot fathom the possibility of being pushed away does mitzvot, and these are accepted with grace and with joy...
from the Divine. And not only that, but [there are those whom] God thirsts for their
The man who feels isolated, frightened and desperate can give mitzvot..."
up hope, again never believing that his station can ever change. This, then, is one facet of teshuva: teshuva within a context of
To the proud marcher in the Independence Day parade of 1968 sin, attempting to repair the evil itself, to rebuild the spiritual
and to the mourning relative outside of Sbarro's; to the confident personality which has been impaired by the evil, and to arrive at
trader on September 10 and to the despairing relative with a picture a process of reconciliation and renewed harmony with God. This is
titled "Missing" on September 11; to the one and to the other the the teshuva of repentance, which comes as a response to sin and
psalmist turns and exhorts: Kaveh el Hashem. Never lose your hope its effects.
and expectation and your awareness that all of this may not last; and TESHUVA AS RETURN TO GOD
never give up hope, falling into the despair of accepting your isolation There is, however, an alternative form of teshuva, one which is
as permanent. Kaveh el Hashem. not related directly to sin, not an outgrowth of evil, but rather
V THE SEASON one which takes place within a religious and spiritual vacuum. It
As we have discussed in our shiur on the Parashat haMo'adot, occurs not in the context of one's relation to God, but rather
Rosh haShanah is presented in the Torah as a commemoration of within the context of a LACK of relation to God. In fact, this type
the Stand at Sinai - a commemoration of a shofar-blast. This is, of of teshuva grows out of one's perception of that lack.
course, the initial stage of Mattan Torah, complete with the entire Within this track, a person is neither separated from God by a
audio-visual experience. Indeed, the central Mitzvah of the day is barrier constructed of sins, nor does he cleave to God. He is
one of noise - the same noise as that heard at Sinai. simply dissociated. He is not engaged in agonized, interlocking
According to Rabbinic tradition, the day on which Mosheh finally combat with God, nor does he wrestle with his conscience; he
descended Sinai for the third and final time, carrying the "second is simply disjunct, oblivious, insensitive to the presence of God.
tablets" and the assurance of God's forgiveness was on Yom That being the case, his teshuva bears a very different
haKippurim - and this most singular of days is understood as a character. It is not teshuva in relation to sin, but teshuva in
commemoration of that event. Here, again, there is one central response to a life which is insensitive to sin. God and one's
Mitzvah - confession. This Mitzvah, unlike the shofar, is primarily relation to Him are not the focal point of one's life, at the epicenter
fulfilled quietly "before God", approximating Mosheh's lonely ascent of his being, but are at most a kind of peripheral presence, a set of
to Sinai to achieve God's forgiveness. parameters defining one's being.
The duality of the season cuts much deeper than this; from the This teshuva of return, of coming back by somehow traversing
onset of "Elul", we are simultaneously gripped with dread of facing a great distance, of reconstructing or resurrecting a person's
God in Judgment and excitement at the imminent coronation of the relation to God and awareness of Him, bears a distinctive stamp.
God of Israel. The fear and joy course throughout the season. To the extent that one has an awareness of having sinned, it is not
We now understand not only the sense of our integrated psalm - the sin of direct affront or confrontation, but rather the sin of
but also the propriety of reciting it during this season of feeling God's apathy, of indifference, of simply failing to relate, of averting one's
immanence while seeking Him out form the depths of our loneliness. gaze from God and focusing instead upon alternative concerns. To
It is generally perceived that the "season" ends with the trumpet the extent that there is sin here, it is the sin of shikhecha, forgetting.
blast at the conclusion of Yom haKippurim - but, as many Jewish TWO LEVELS OF THE SIN OF FORGETTING
thinkers have proposed, the forty days which reach their apex at this The sin of shikhecha itself is multi-leveled. At the maximal
point are but a preparation for the entrance under the "marital level, there is total obliviousness. A person is simply unaware
canopy" of the Sukkah where God, having encountered Man and that he lives in a universe created by God, grounded
having been found, as it were, by Man, rejoice together under His metaphysically in His being, sustained by His aid and His presence.
protective cloud. He imagines that he lives in a Never-never Land within which he is
Psalm 27, an elegant composition reflecting the confidence of lord and master, or man collectively is master. The sense of the
resting securely in God's Presence and the fear of distance from Him, both immanent and transcendent presence of God is totally beyond
is recited as long as we seek Him, are sought by Him - and as long him. This, of course, would entail total disregard of the range of
as we reside together under His clouds of glory. mitzvot.
There is, however, a second level, one which we might
denominate not as shikhecha, but as heisekh ha- da'at, a lack of
3 - HAR ETZION (VBM)
Virtual Beit Midrash, Alon Shevut, Gush Etzion 90433 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org,
attention. Here we deal not with a total lack of knowledge or
Home Page: http://www.virtual.co.il/education/yhe recollection, but with an individual or a community in whose
A) TESHUVA: REPENTANCE AND RETURN memory the relevant information is properly stored. If tested, they
Based on a speech by Harav Aharon Lichtenstein could probably respond. But they do not actively focus their
Adapted by Rav Reuven Ziegler attention upon it; their mind is elsewhere, upon other concerns. 
TESHUVA AS REPENTANCE FROM SIN The term heisech ha-da'at is of course a familiar category in
In the caption introducing his Hilkhot Teshuva (Laws of Halakha. One might cite two well-known but contrasting contexts
Repentance), the Rambam says it contains "One positive within which it occurs. First, the halakha of heisech ha-da'at in
commandment, namely, that a person who has sinned should repent relation to tefillin: the Rambam (Hilkhot Tefillin 4:14) writes,
from his sin before God and confess." The focus of teshuva, as "One should always feel his tefillin whenever they are upon
formulated here, is the act, the state, the experience of sin. him, so that he shall not remove his attention from them even
Teshuva thus takes place within a context of sin. for a moment."
The point of departure for teshuva, when seen as a response to Although the prohibition of heisech ha-da'at and the obligation of
sin, is "hakarat ha-chet," the recognition and acknowledgement of guarding tefillin properly (deriving from Shemot 13:10) are
sin, and this in a dual sense. First, it entails a general awareness of incumbent upon an individual, the sanctity of tefillin is unaffected if
the impact, the power, the corrosive and pervasive force of sin -- in the tefillin are left unguarded.
the celebrated line from Spenser, "Sin close creeping 'twixt the Not so with regard to teruma and kodashim (priestly gifts and
marrow and the skin." Beyond that, it means acknowledgement sacrificial offerings), whose sanctity -- at least as far as the
of a particular sin: not sin as a universal category, but one's own permissibility of eating it is concerned -- is totally lost according to
personal involvement in sin, and not one's own sin generally Reish Lakish (Pesachim 34a) if one does not pay attention to
speaking, but a very specific sin. This, of course, is a prelude to them. While R. Yochanan agrees that one may not eat teruma or
"azivat ha-chet," leaving sin in the present and becoming totally kodashim that were not guarded properly, he says that the reason for
dissociated from it in the future. this is the possibility that it was defiled by tum'a (impurity) when
One component of this type of teshuva is abandoning the path of unguarded. But were we to know with certitude that it did not
evil (see Hilkhot Teshuva 2:2). But there is also a second come into contact with tum'a, then the teruma or kodashim could
component. In addition to teshuva FROM something, a backing-off be e Reish Lakish goes beyond this, saying that heisech ha-da'at
from sin -- as in the verse, "Return, return, from your evil paths" is a "pesul ha-guf:" the teruma or kodashim are defiled by the very
(II Melakhim 17:13) -- there is a component of returning TO fact that they did not receive the kind of attention which their
something, or to Someone: "Return, Israel, to the Lord your God" unique status deserves. Even if we were to know for certain that no
(Hoshea 14:2); "Return to Me and I shall return to you" (Malakhi tum'a had taken place, the heisech ha-da'at itself removes
3:7). something of their very special character. 
As a result of sin, the personal relationship between man and If we ask ourselves, what is the effect of a person's heisech
God has been fractured, if not ruptured. It has been fractured ha-da'at in relation to God, I would submit, daring as it may sound,
because, in sinning, man himself is corrupted, spiritually corroded, that there is kiveyakhol (as it were) a certain pesul ha-guf. In a
and hence less worthy and less capable of having a relationship certain sense, the fact that God is ignored does not merely affect
with God. It has been fractured because the sin itself, apart from the the relationship of the individual to God, but kiveyakhol affects His
evil inherent within it, is an affront to God. Hence, whatever very presence here. We speak of chillul Hashem, desecrating the
relationship a person had enjoyed with God is adversely affected Name, and the Name means the symbolic presence of God.
by sin. Thus, teshuva becomes not only a process whereby a Chillul Hashem presumably means that in some sense it is,
person, recognizing sin and dissociating himself from it, goes on to objectively speaking, impaired. To the extent that malkhut
purify and purge himself of the negative influence of sin, but, shamayim (divine kingship) is not fully recognized, kiveyakhol
beyond that, also a process of reconciliation, of rebuilding bridges the presence of the Shekhina is adversely affected.
to God, of removing barriers which sin has established between In a celebrated statement (Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Tetze 11),
the sinner and God. Chazal note that in the verse, "With hand upon the throne of the
In the context of his celebrated paean to teshuva, the Rambam Lord (kes Y-a), [God swears that He will have a] war with
(7:7) speaks of the removal of these barriers: Amalek from generation to generation" (Shemot 17:16), only a
"How great is the level of teshuva! Only yesterday this shortened form of God's Name is mentioned and not His complete
sinner was divided from God, as it says: 'Your sins were 4 Name. The reason for this is, they explain, that "God's Name
and His throne are incomplete as long as the name of Amalek has much clearer appraisal of what genuine greatness is and therefore
not been blotted out." As long as Amalek, which totally ignores a more accurate appraisal of what his own stature is.
the existence of God, exists, then somehow God's Name is The vision of greatness is humbling. But of course what is most
incomplete. What is said there with regard to Amalek is humbling is the vision of the ultimate, unique, singular greatness --
universally true. Wherever God's Name is not recognized, then it a vision of God. The Rambam, in a celebrated passage (Hilkhot
is in some sense desecrated. Heisech ha-da'at here has some Yesodei Ha-Torah 2:1), speaks of the mitzvot of loving and fearing
touch of pesul ha-guf. God:
INSUFFICIENT APPRECIATION AND IMPROPER EVALUATION "This great and awesome God -- it is a mitzva to love and to be
We have, then, two aspects of shikhecha: total obliviousness in awe of Him... And how is one to attain this?
and inattention. But there is a third level of shikhecha too. Even When a person contemplates His creations and sees within
when one relates to God and is aware of His presence, he may fail them infinite worth, scope and wisdom, then immediately he
to apprehend fully and appreciate the significance of that presence loves, praises and is overcome by great thirst to know the
and that relation. Hence, he does not perceive accurately the living God...
human situation. And when he contemplates these very matters, he
Not to perceive that situation properly is a dual fault. It is in immediately recoils, fears and knows that he is a very minute
one sense an intellectual, philosophical, and theological fault. A and insignificant creature of small and superficial intellect in
person whose perception of reality is one which, while not devoid of comparison with the Omniscient..."
God, nevertheless does not position Him at its epicenter and apex, is The verse in Mishlei (16:18) says, "Pride goeth before a fall,"
incorrect in his perception of the nature of reality, the structure of the but as Augustine noted, pride is itself a fall. So the relationship of
universe, and the quality of human society and individual existence. shikhecha and pride is dual. Pride leads to averting one's gaze
But, beyond this intellectual failing, there is a spiritual, if you will, a from God, but it is because a person has not fully apprehended
moral and religious failing, and this too is to be understood in or appreciated God that he is able to be proud.
HALAKHIC terms. FORGETTING SINAI AND TORAH
R. Moshe of Coucy, in his work enumerating the 613 mitzvot, In addition to the prohibition of forgetting God, we have a similar
the Semag (Sefer Mitzvot Gadol), describes a dream-vision he had prohibition of forgetting that which is related to God:
after completing the book: "Be careful and guard your soul very much, lest you forget the
"In the vision an apparition spoke to me and said: You have things you have seen and lest these be removed from your
forgotten in your list of mitzvot the most important thing! You awareness throughout the course of your life." (Devarim 4:9)
have counted 365 prohibitions, but you forgot the most The Ramban (ad loc.) explains that this is to be understood as
important prohibition: 'Beware lest you forget God' (Devarim a binding halakhic prohibition, that "we should forget nothing of the
8:11). experience at Sinai, nor remove it from our hearts." In his
I had not intended to include this in the list of prohibitions; commentary to Ramban's Sefer Ha-mitzvot, the Ramban lists this as
after all, the Rambam [whom he follows by and large] had not one of the mitzvot he thinks the Rambam had omitted:
included it. Then I reflected upon the matter in the morning "We shall not forget ma'amad Har Sinai, nor remove it from our
and decided that indeed this was a very basic principle in fear of thoughts, but our eyes and hearts shall be there perpetually."
God and added it to the list." (Semag, end of the This formulation is quite comprehensive, in three respects.
introduction to the prohibitions) First, whereas previously we had known that it is forbidden to forget
Within the text of the book (lo ta'aseh 64), he explains the God, here we have an injunction against forgetting a particular
normative content of this mitzva: historical (and quasi- metaphysical) event, ma'amad Har Sinai.
"This is an admonition that Jews should not be proud when Second, not only are we enjoined, according to the Ramban, from
God bestows bounty upon them, and they should not say that forgetting the event in its totality, but we are enjoined to strive to
it is through their labors that they have attained all of this, and remember every particular detail. It is not enough that a person
they shall then not be grateful to God as a result of their pride. It remembers ma'amad Har Sinai, that he knows that one time "God
is to this that the verses refer... This is the admonition that a descended on Mount Sinai" (Shemot 19:20), and He revealed
person should not be proud of that which God has granted him, Himself to kelal Yisrael, gave the Torah and then He and they
be it wealth, beauty or wisdom, but he is to be very humble moved on. To remember ma'amad Har Sinai is to remember it in
and meek before God and before people and to thank his its vivid detail, to reconstruct the historical situation with all its
Creator that He has bestowed upon him this particular force, to relive the experience, the awe, the majesty, the grandeur!
advantage." Thirdly, the Ramban tells us that this remembrance of ma'amad Har
Here we have a specific prohibition of shikhecha. The Sinai in all its vivid detail is to be perpetual.
transgressor has not necessarily forgotten about God altogether; he Not only are we enjoined lest we forget God, and lest we forget
need not even have been meisiach da'at from God. Perhaps he ma'amad Har Sinai, but also the product of ma'amad Har Sinai:
thinks of Him regularly. But what does he think when contemplating "R. Meir says: If a person has forgotten one thing of what he
God? How does he divide the credit between himself and God for has learned, it is as if he is worthy of being destroyed..." (Avot
his attainments, his accomplishments, nay, for his very existence? 3:8)
To the extent that the division is incorrect, that he gives himself The mishna then goes on to state that this does not refer to the
credit for all that he has achieved -- he is a shokhe'ach, he does not normal processes of forgetting; those affect all of us.  Rather, we
remember God, because he does not remember Him as the sustainer are talking about the shikhecha of "yesirim mi-libo" -- removing it
and provider for all human needs, nor does he remember Him as from his heart. A person thinks: It doesn't really matter, so I won't
the ground and ultimate goal of human existence. know it, and he is not perturbed. That kind of active forgetting is
FORGETFULNESS AND PRIDE included in this prohibition.
This is, then, a third kind of shikhecha, one which is intertwined In summary, then, there is active forgetting and there is
with pride in a dual sense. It is first the result of pride. A person is passive forgetting, the result of indifference and insouciance, of
flushed with success - - "So Yeshurun grew fat and kicked; you apathy and anemia.
grew fat and gross and coarse" (Devarim 32:15) -- and being PERPETUAL REMEMBRANCE
flushed with success, he indeed forgets: "You neglected the Rock Thus, in addition to teshuva within the context of active
that begot you, and forgot the God who brought you forth" (ibid. 18). engagement in sin, there is also teshuva within a context of spiritual
This theme runs through parashat Vaetchanan and Ekev: You will apathy, of indifference to God, of distance between the world of
have fancy homes, you will build a highly developed society, and Torah and one's own being. Within that context the proper teshuva
then this kind of shikhecha is a clear and present danger. is not so much that of repentance, but the teshuva of return, of
But the relation to pride exists also at a second level. If on the narrowing the gap, trying to come closer, of deepening and
one hand, it is pride in one's accomplishments which brings one to widening one's bond to God -- a process of teshuva wherein a
forget God, on the other hand, it is forgetting God which enables a person assigns to Him a central place within his consciousness,
person to be proud. In this sense, shikhecha is not the result of sensibility, existence and experience.
pride, but results in pride. Where there is shikhecha, there is a The response to shikhecha is "zakhor," remember. Zakhor has
lack of perspective, skewed priorities, and narrowness of vision. a perpetual dimension -- for example, "to remember ALWAYS
These very often enable a person to distort the reality of his [Amalek's] evil deeds." Likewise, Rashi on the verse, "Remember
own existence and the range and scope of his own the Sabbath day to keep it holy" (Shemot 20:8), explains: "Pay
accomplishments. attention to remember Shabbat all the time." The Ramban
Generally speaking, a vision of greatness, to one who can elaborates upon this somewhat:
appreciate it intelligently and sensitively, is humbling. For one "The mitzva is to remember the Shabbat always, every day,
thing, it helps a person establish priorities, to see what ultimately is that we never forget it, nor confuse it with other days, for by
indeed significant and important. Milton, in a celebrated line in remembering it perpetually we constantly remember the
"Lycidas," spoke of fame as "That last infirmity of noble mind." In one creation of the world."
of Keats' sonnets ("When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be"), he That perpetual aspect of zekhira (remembering) has both a
writes, qualitative and a quantitative dimension: quantitatively, in terms of it
"Then on the shore being the constant focus of our minds and hearts; qualitatively, in
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think terms of the depth of the engagement, the extent to which our
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink." being is indeed intertwined in and committed to contemplating
As long as a person resides in a very narrow world, he imagines and relating to God.
that he is successful, that he is eminent. He towers over The Rambam (Hilkhot Teshuva 10:3) describes what avoda
contemporaries; he surpasses his peers. Indeed, he finds the thirst me-ahava (service from love) is:
for fame gratifying, and he imagines that he has attained it. But, "What is that proper love [which a person is to love God]? A
given a vision of greatness, one not only reestablishes priorities -- great, exceedingly intense love, until his soul is bound up with
just how important that fame is within a wide world -- but one also love of God and he finds himself immersed within it, as if he is
attains a clearer perception of what his real stature is. So long as lovesick, so that his mind is never free of the thought of that
a person remains within a fairly narrow context, he imagines that woman, and he thinks of her perpetually -- whether sitting,
he is a lamdan, a scholar -- he might have a big shiur and people standing, eating or drinking. Greater than this should be the
come to listen -- but when confronted by the Shakh (a love of God in the hearts of His lovers, pondering upon Him
commentator on the Shulchan Arukh), one begins to get a 5 perpetually, as we have been commanded: 'with all your
heart and all your soul.' It is of this that King Shlomo not referring chas ve-shalom to the possibility that an idol is
allegorically has said: 'I am lovesick,' and all of Shir Ha-shirim is going to be put up and incense offered before it, but of the
an allegory for this." broader spiritual ramifications. Here too, in speaking of the dangers
We note that the Rambam here speaks of the quantitative of kefira attendant upon being linked to the secular order, one needs
dimension -- "perpetually," but the source which he quotes is one to think not merely of a kind of dogmatic rejection, but of
which relates to the qualitative aspect -- "with all your heart and experiential distance -- "You are near to their mouths, but distant
soul." That commandment of zakhor, being involved and engaged from their innards" (Yirmiyahu 12:2).
with God, has something which quantitatively is all- The demands which the secular world makes very often have the
encompassing time-wise and which qualitatively requires your whole effect of chipping away at one's religious existence. The secular
heart and soul. world very often likes to speak in the name of neutrality. If they
This level of ahava is clearly very demanding. The Rambam in speak, for instance, of education, they say: We are not asking for
that very chapter seems to speak of this both as being attainable to anti- religious education, but for neutral education; not an education
all, and as being reached only by a small elite. On the one hand, he of sin, but an education of distance. But from a religious
says, "This level is very great, and not every one attains it. This is standpoint, neither philosophically nor existentially can such
the level of Avraham Avinu," of rare individuals. But, in the same neutrality be sustained -- not over the short term and surely not
breath, the Rambam -- aristocratic and elitist in certain respects over the long term. An education from which God is excluded is not
though he was -- nevertheless makes it clear that, normatively a neutral education. That is secular, anti-religious education by its
speaking, this is not a demand upon only religious virtuosi, but a very content and definition.
demand imposed upon every individual. While the ultimate goal is To take an unfortunate, insidious, recent example: We are told
attained by rare individuals, the direction, the thrust, the momentum that the Israeli army must be religiously neutral, and therefore
as a desideratum in normative terms -- this kind of all- encompassing missives which are sent out by commanders cannot have God's
zekhira -- is the lot of each and every one of us. name or any reference to it affixed to it; and this in the name of
"SIN CROUCHES AT THE DOOR" democracy and fair play. What we have here is a kind of
I have spoken heretofore in general, universal terms or, if you secularization which does not say, Throw out God, but effectively
want to narrow it somewhat, in terms which address themselves does that.
specifically to klal Yisrael. I want to add something with respect to The link with a social order grounded upon a sense of distance -
the particular segment of klal Yisrael sitting before me tonight. The - both experiential and ideological -- from God can have an impact,
verse (Bereishit 4:7) says: "Sin crouches at the door." But and one needs to guard against that. One needs to know that that
presumably not the same sin at every door. Each door, each kind of link to such an order opens up a door through which sin can
domicile, each community with its particular sin, with a particular enter. In order that it does not enter, we need to be on guard, we
spiritual danger indigenous to it, endemic to that group or that need to intensify our commitment, we need to avoid shikhecha
individual. The Chafetz Chayim once commented that different and heisech ha-da'at all the more.
generations have different pitfalls. There are generations that Secondly, this kind of sin crouches at our door because, in
succumb particularly to idolatry, others to desecration of certain respects, there is a certain shallowness, a certain lack of
Shabbat, some to sins between man and his Maker, and others to passion and intensity within our own community. Quite apart from
interpersonal sins. Each community, each individual has his own whatever rubs off through contact with others, there is a certain
"door" and his own sin to which he is susceptible. What might be shikhecha, a lack of total zekhira, a lack of total commitment
regarded as the "sin that crouches at the door" of this assembly? which runs through much of this community.
In one's relationship to God, there are two preeminent We need to be aware of this sin at our door, because only to the
spiritual dangers. First, there is avoda zara (foreign worship, or extent that we are aware of it will we be able to cope with it. If we
idolatry) and, broadly speaking, whatever relates to it -- are to engage in teshuva that is particularly relevant to ourselves, it
superstition and misguided conceptions of God. There is also a is perhaps even more than the teshuva of repentance (which is within
second danger: kefira, atheism -- not that a person misconstrues the context of relationship to God) the teshuva of return.
and misconceives God, but that he does not worship NEARNESS TO GOD
altogether. We might single out a particular sin from the "Al chet," the litany
There have been debates as to which should be regarded as of sins we recite, which (at least as some have interpreted)
being worse. Bacon opens his essay "On Atheism" by quoting relates to this particular situation: "Al chet she-chatanu lefanekha
Plutarch's remark that superstition is worse than atheism because - bi-veli da'at" -- for the sin which we have sinned before You without
- referring to Greek mythology -- he would prefer that people knowledge. The viddui contains two kinds of confessions. There are
say that Plutarch had never existed, to stating that he had those which are themselves sins; then there are others which are
existed but ate his children. The eighteenth century, more rational not inherently sins, but are either areas of experience or activity
in its thinking, by and large accepted Plutarch's and Bacon's within which the sin takes place, or a kind of quality or mind-set
judgements. Better to deny the existence of God, better to be which attends upon the sin. "Bi-veli da'at" can be understood in two
removed from Him, than to be caught up in narrow, ignorant, ways. Some, perhaps most, would be inclined to understand it in
superstitious wo the second sense: it is that which enables us to be sinners. We
The nineteenth century, by and large, particularly in its were not sufficiently careful, not sufficiently heedful, and as a
Romantic religious thought, disagreed. It felt that the groping for result a particular sin ensued.
some kind of spiritual reality, giving expression to spirituality in But some have understood "bi-veli da'at" as being itself a sin.
various modes -- however primitive, narrow or misguided -- was A certain mindlessness is a failing inasmuch as we do not then
to be preferred to the kind of rarefied religiosity (or non- religiosity) fully realize the tzelem Elokim (image of God) within us -- to the
which the eighteenth century left as a legacy to the Romantics. extent that one accepts the Rambam's view that tzelem Elokim is
Newman, in a celebrated passage, wrote that "What this country da'at, knowledge; even if one does not subscribe to that view, surely
[i.e. England in the 1830's and 40's] needs is not less superstition, da'at is one aspect of tzelem Elokim. To the extent then that our
but more superstition" -- out of a sense that for all its faults, it da'at is not maximized, we are failing to realize our potential
nevertheless entails an awareness of spiritual reality and a quest for tzelem Elokim. Quite apart from that, inasmuch as the "beli da'at,"
it. the lack of focus and concentration, defines our relationship to God,
If pressed to the wall, I would opt for Newman without we are not "perpetually dwelling upon God;" to the extent that some
reservation. But of course we ought not, we cannot, allow shikhecha -- quantitative or qualitative -- intrudes, that "bi-veli da'at"
ourselves to be pressed to the wall. We need to be sensitive to is a sin in its own right. And, I repeat, a particular sin which
both dangers. Which is more threatening? To a certain extent, that confronts and afflicts this sector of the religious community.
is a function of a given historical and sociological situation, That being the case, the teshuva which is particular to us and
depending upon the era, depending upon the community. which is specifically incumbent upon us is the teshuva of return, of
What is the danger that lurks for this community? Of what does narrowing the distance, of no longer forgetting, of intensifying our
it need to be particularly wary because its inclination lies in that awareness, of bridging the gap. That entails, at one level, with the
direction? totality of our being -- not simply in our intellectual formulations, but
I believe that the sin lurking at the door of the Modern Orthodox with the whole fiber of our existence - - genuinely sensing and
or Religious Zionist community, the danger which confronts us understanding that indeed obliterating the distance is our
and of which we need to be fully aware, is precisely the danger ultimate good, our summum bonum, fully identifying with King
of shikhecha. Unlike other communities, this is a community which David when he says (Tehillim 73:27): "As for me, nearness to God
is not so susceptible to avoda zara in its extension -- attitudes is good" -- that is good, and only that is good. Secondly, it entails
the Rambam battled against, such as superstition and gross or making the effort -- both personally and communally -- to close
primitive conceptions of God -- because it is more sophisticated that gap, to bring ourselves closer to God and hopefully, therefore,
intellectually, religiously, and philosophically. Unfortunately, God closer to us.
however, it is very, very susceptible to extended kefira or shikhecha, These are days during which He is close already; Chazal say,
lacking the immanent sense of God felt so deeply, keenly, and on the verse in Yishayahu (55:6), "Seek God when He is present,
pervasively in other parts of the halakhically-committed Jewish call Him when He is near," that this refers to the ten days from Rosh
world. Ha-shana to Yom Kippur. These are days in which one hears
CREEPING SECULARISM AND DAMPENED PASSION tmessage of the prophet calling to those from afar and those who
The Modern Orthodox community is one to which the danger of are close (Yishayahu 57:19). As Chazal say: "'To the near and far' --
distance from God -- the eighteenth century danger, the danger of a to the far that he should be near." This is a call to one who is not
certain spiritual hollowness, of apathy, of pushing God off into the necessarily a sinner in the ordinary sense, but simply distant, his
corners -- is indigenous and endemic. In part, this is a result of the mind engaged in other concerns, and God somewhere on the
link this community has -- to some extent ideologically, to some periphery.
extent existentially -- to the broader, general, secular community These are days when God, being so present, so near, calls for
around it. The secular world is, by definition, not so much the world the determination and resolve that we on our part shall go towards
of sin per se, but a world of being distant from God, of simply Him -- as He has extended Himself and His hand to us --
not recognizing Him, having no links and no relation. transcending the sin that lurks at our door, the sin of shikhecha,
Of course, the secular world as such is one which, of distance, of dissociation. These are days during which the
philosophically and ideologically, denies God totally. But when I effort needs to be made and during which, we hope, when the
spoke before of avoda zara as threatening others, I was 6 effort is made, it shall be crowned at a personal and
communal level with success: that God should accept our return human being is authorized with its investiture. Just as a person
with love. confers kedusha upon a sefer Torah by writing it "lishmah"
"Happy is the man who does not forget You, who gains courage (with proper intention), similarly he may endow his animal with
in You, for those who seek You shall never stumble, nor shall kedusha by dint of a verbal declaration.
those who trust in You ever be disgraced." (from the Musaf Apparently, the se'irim on Yom Kippur are an exception to
prayer of Rosh Ha-shana) this rule. In this instance, it is the outcome of the lottery and not a
(Based on a transcript by Rav Eli Clark. This speech was delivered human action which determines the status of the animals. This
in Tishrei 5758  at the Gruss Institute in Jerusalem.) article will determine whether "amira" - the person's verbal
FOOTNOTES articulation, which is so vital in other sacrifices - plays any role
 I have said that this might be described as heisekh ha-da'at whatsoever in this selection process. A later article will consider
rather than shikhecha; but, in a sense, that too is a shikhecha of the exact structure and nature of the lottery vis-a-vis the person
sorts. At least so it would appear from the gemara, which concludes who performs it.
that failing to focus or concentrate is also defined as shikhecha. The gemara (Yoma 40b) derives the distinction between the
The gemara (Megilla 18a), speaking of the mitzva of selection of se'irim and the designation of a regular korban from the
remembering Amalek, asks: verse (Vayikra 16:9) stating that the kohen gadol (high priest) should
"How do you know that when we speak of 'remembering what "bring the goat upon which fell God's lot, and he should make it a
Amalek did to you,' we are talking about reading a text? Maybe chatat (sin- offering)." Though a simple reading would seem to
it means ruminating upon this matter, pondering it, indicate that the kohen himself should confer this identity, the
contemplating it? No, such a presumption should not cross gemara (based upon a Sifri) teaches: "The lottery creates the status
your mind, for the beraita [in Sifri] says: Perhaps when it of chatat and not the kohen himself." This categorical statement
says 'Remember' (Devarim 25:17) it means you should would seem to entirely exclude the kohen gadol from any active role
remember this in your heart? But we know that it is otherwise, in deciding the fate of the animal. Even though the mishna (39a)
because when the verse says, 'You shall not forget' (Devarim confirms that after the lottery was held, the kohen pronounced the
25:19), it has already addressed itself to the area of forgetting words "La-Shem chatat" ("A sin-offering to God") upon the
in one's heart. What then is the additional dimension of designated animal, this action served merely to reiterate the results
'Remember?' That you should verbalize it." of the lottery without imposing any status on its own. Closer
An obvious question obtrudes here. We are told "lo tishkach" -- inspection, however, reveals several opinions which nonetheless
you should not forget. We presumably would have understood that impute some role to the kohen's verbal designation.
your knowledge of the facts should be at a level whereby it is The gemara (39b) cites an Amoraic dispute as to whether the
stored in your memory, subject to recall. If you would be tested -- omission of the lottery process would subvert the validity of the entire
who is Amalek? what did he do? -- you will know the answer. But special service of Yom Kippur. According to R. Yochanan, if they
whether presently you actively recall it is another matter; that is omitted the lottery the rest of the service is not affected. His position
not included in "lo tishkach." We would therefore have said that raises the following difficulty: if no lottery is performed, what
"zakhor" then comes along and says: Not only should you not distinguishes between the two identical se'irim? Indeed, this issue
forget, but you must think about it. However, the gemara says is of such concern that Rabbeinu Chananel was forced to
otherwise. The whole realm of one's inner awareness is covered reinterpret the gemara. According to him, even R. Yochanan
by "lo tishkach." Had the Torah not stated "zakhor," we would requires a lottery to confer the distinct identities. However, he does
already have known that one must actively think about it, but we not demand that it be performed at the exact point of the service
would not have known that one needs to verbalize it. delineated in parashat Acharei Mot. Although generally the Torah's
Clearly then, if a person has stored in his memory this sequence must be adhered to (for example, the sprinkling of the
information about Amalek, but does not actively consider the blood of the bull must precede that of the goat), when it comes to
matter, then he is already transgressing the prohibition of "lo the lottery (which is only marginally connected to the special
tishkach." Knowledge is thus fully compatible with shikhecha. avoda of Yom Kippur) the sequence can be altered. No one,
Shikhecha in the context of that gemara clearly is not to be however, can assert that the lottery itself can be omitted. Inasmuch
understood as total forgetting, but simply heisech ha-da'at. One as it confers the status of the se'irim, it is critically necessary.
knows about Amalek, but it is unpleasant to think about him in Rashi, however, accepts the gemara in its literal sense. R.
various aspects, and consequently one would prefer to keep the Yochanan indeed maintains that no lottery is necessary (bedi'avad -
information about Amalek as a kind of historical island in his after the fact). In the absence of a lottery, the only technique able
memory, but go on to other activities. That is precisely the to confer the status is the kohen's verbal designation. When the
prohibition of "lo tishkach." You HAVE to think about it, and you Torah assigns the responsibility for selection to the lottery and not
have to surmount this shikhecha in part by active narrative and in to the kohen, it is merely indicating the PREFERRED process. In
part by permanent, ongoing reflection. reality, there exist two parallel tracks: the preferred one, unique to
The Rambam (Hilkhot Melakhim 5:5) is very clear on this point. Yom Kippur (i.e. lottery), and the second-best (i.e. the standard
When he explains the mitzva of zekhirat Amalek, he says: verbal designation of the kohen gadol).
"It is a mitzva to remember ALWAYS his evil deeds and his A role for the kohen gadol's verbal designation can also be
ambush (according to another reading: his enmity) in order to discovered by examining a dissenting opinion to the first mishna
arouse enmity to him, as it says, 'Remember what Amalek of this chapter. The mishna's description of the lottery process
did to you.' From tradition they learned: 'Remember' verbally, has the kohen gadol putting both hands into the box while he faces
and 'do not forget' in your heart, i.e. it is forbidden to forget his the two identical se'irim. By picking up one name-plate in each
enmity and hatred." hand, he automatically designates the role of each se'ir; if the plate
While the gemara says that "zakhor" comes on top of "lo tishkach," with God's name was raised in his right hand, then the sa'ir to his
the Rambam suggests that the two are complementary. What right became the korban, while its counterpart was sent to its death
"zakhor" adds to "lo tishkach" is the verbalization, the in the barren desert. The kohen gadol would then lift his right hand
objectification, the expression and, therefore, the degree of force to finalize and publicize the result. The reverse happened if the
and vivacity which comes through verbalization. On the other plate with God's name ended up in his left hand.
hand, verbalization cannot be constant, and the dimension of R. Eliezer is cited as the proponent of a somewhat different
constancy comes from "lo tishkach." So, if we speak of heisech ha- scenario. To ensure that the plate with God's name always ended
da'at, that too is a category of shikhecha. up in the RIGHT hand (which in Halakha is generally preferred),
 With regard to R. Yochanan's view, it is entirely possible that he the kohen gadol and his assistant each placed his right hand into
rejects the whole notion of heisech ha- da'at as adversely affecting the lottery box, and pulled out one plate. If the plate with God's
the sanctity of teruma and kodashim. But not necessarily so. It is name was grasped by the kohen gadol, he lifted his right hand to
conceivable that R. Yochanan would agree that in some sense there finalize the result. If, however, the assistant received this plate, the
is an adverse effect, but not to the point that one cannot eat them kohen gadol was instructed by another kohen (the acting head of the
altogether. rotation of kohanim currently serving in the Beit Ha-mikdash - known
 As a matter of fact, Chazal in certain places regarded as rosh beit av) to "speak his piece" (i.e., to say "La-Shem
normal processes of forgetting as being beneficial. The midrash chatat"). The disparity between these two permutations within R.
on Kohelet says that God has done us a great kindness by causing Eliezer's opinion is striking. If the kohen gadol received the desired
us to forget. If a person did not forget, then presumably he would plate, he elevated it, thus allowing the LOTTERY to establish the
learn Torah once and then figure that since he now knows it, he will selection. If, however, his assistant grasped the plate, it seems that
move on to other things. So he would have the knowledge, but no one would raise his hand. The kohen gadol would simply
would lack the ongoing existential and experiential relation to Torah. launch into his verbal designation.
B) THE LOTTERY IN THE TEMPLE SERVICE ON The Ritva already noted this problem. He offers a different
YOM KIPPUR reading of R. Eliezer's position, explaining that in each case the
By Rav Moshe Taragin recipient of the plate with God's name elevated that plate prior to
the kohen gadol's verbal assignment. If, however, the kohen gadol
PART 1 - THE NECESSITY OF THE LOTTERY received the plate, he required a little reminder to elevate the plate;
The unique service of Yom Kippur entailed bringing two identical
se'irim (goats) to the Beit Ha-mikdash (Temple). The fourth given his massive load of avoda (on Yom Kippur all the avoda was
performed exclusively by the kohen gadol), he might forget. If his
chapter of Yoma describes the lottery held to determine which of assistant acquired the plate, he could be depended on to raise it
these two would be sent to its death in the desert (symbolizing the
casting away of all sins - hence the term "scapegoat"), and which upward without a reminder. Hence R. Eliezer only referred to the
former case in which the kohen gadol was actually reminded to
would be sacrificed in the Beit Ha-mikdash and have its blood raise his plate. In either case, though, the plate was immediately
sprinkled in the Holy of Holies.
Upon first glance, this selection process appears unlike any raised thereby fixing the identities of the se'irim prior to any verbal
statement of the kohen gadol.
other dedication of a korban (sacrifice). Generally, an individual The simple reading of R. Eliezer's position, however, yields a
who offers a sacrifice designates his animal as a particular type
of korban. This verbal "ma'aseh hekdesh" (act of dedication) very different picture. If the kohen gadol actually received the plate
with God's name, his elevating of the plate established the
consists merely of a declaration bestowing upon the animal the identities. In the event, however, that the assistant received this
status of an offering, and hence its resultant status of kedusha
(sanctity). As with all kedusha in the halakhic realm, a plate, we still prefer that the kohen gadol direct the selection. Not
7 grasping the proper plate, the only way he could confer the
status of the korban chatat was by SPEAKING, not LIFTING. R. defined and not generic - highlights the pivotal and exclusive role
Eliezer recognizes two parallel mechanisms for fixing the of the lottery.
identities: lottery and verbal assignment. If the kohen gadol However, we might alternatively assume that the gemara's
acquired the plate with God's name, he was able to implement ruling maintains the concept of a human-driven selection through
the former. If, however, the plate was in the hands of his assistant, the agency of the lottery. However, there is an external requirement
he had no recourse but to employ the standard method of that the lottery plates be clearly demarcated. This serves to add
designating a korban - verbal designation through announcing "La- drama and publicity to the entire process. Certainly, one cannot
Shem chatat." compare the public reaction to a lottery drawing of a black and
SUMMARY: Though the Torah appears to highlight the lottery white ribbons to the reaction to a drawing of two well-defined plates.
and de-emphasize any verbal action, we have located two This latter interpretation might be supported by a related
dissenting opinions that might alla pivotal role for a verbal restriction found in the very same passage in the Yerushalmi. Even
assignment. In truth, it must be stressed that we do not rule in though a BOX wasn't strictly necessary to hold the plates, it was
accordance with either opinion. We reject R. Yochanan and rule preferable to have one since it added suspense to the event.
that lottery is absolutely necessary - otherwise the avoda is invalid. Clearly, various steps were taken to enhance and "promote" the
Likewise, we adopt the mishna's scenario and not R. Eliezer's: process. These steps, however, do not necessarily have any
the kohen put both his hands in the box, and elevated whichever inherent correlatives. They bespeak nothing of the internal nature
hand held the plate with God's name. of the selection process, and are mere externals added for effect.
Even within the accepted version of the lottery, one might Indeed, the Yerushalmi requires that the names be INSCRIBED on
discover a role for the verbal assignment. The mishna records a the plates rather than merely written - a detail which seems to have
dispute between R. Yishmael and the Sages. According to the little impact upon the nature of the process.
Sages, the kohen gadol announced "La-Shem chatat," while What follows from these requirements is that even according to
according to R. Yishmael he said only "La-Shem." Instinctively, we the gemara's final ruling, the demand for self-defined lottery plates
perceive that the Sages' formulation is more analogous to a might be for tangential reasons, while the spirit of the hava
standard verbal assignment, while R. Yishmael's version is amina (the assumption of the question) might be preserved. In
clearly unprecedented. other words, we can still see the kohen gadol as utilizing the lottery
The Ritva notes this disparity and imputes the dispute to as his tool in performing the selection. He theoretically could have
different readings of the verse (Vayikra 16:9) stating that the kohen used non-defined lottery pieces, but may not do so for purely
should "bring the goat upon which fell the lot of God (i.e. the plate secondary, unrelated reasons.
with God's name) and make it a chatat." What is not exactly clear A subsequent deliberation in the Yerushalmi might also reveal
is the subject of the verb "make it." Does it refer to the lottery the kohen gadol as the driving force behind the selection. The
itself (the textual antecedent) or to the kohen gadol (the logical Talmud broaches the possibility that the kohen gadol should place
antecedent)? According to the Ritva, herein lies the dispute TWO plates on EACH animal - one plate with the name of God and
between R. Yishmael and the Sages. According to the former, the one with the word "la- azazel." It follows that, according to this
antecedent is the lottery. Since the lottery ITSELF bestows the option, the plates and the lottery have lost their ability to define
status and the kohen's verbal announcement is symbolic at best, the independently the identity of the animals. If each animal has
statement may be truncated. By contrast, the Sages believe that each plate on it, something else has to actually decide which
the designation of the chatat also receives a boost from the kohen animal will be sent where. Ostensibly, this would be the kohen
gadol's verbal announcement; hence this announcement must take gadol. He would have made the designations using the lottery as his
the form of a standard verbal designation. The kohen gadol must tool.
declare "La-Shem chatat." According to the Sages (in the The Yerushalmi proceeds to reject this position as well, since
Ritva's interpretation), although the verbal announcement isn't the the Torah clearly asserts "goral echad la- Shem" - one lottery plate
sole factor in designating the status, it participates alongside for God - insisting that each animal be crowned with only one
the lottery in this process. plate. The same question, however, resurfaces. Does the
METHODOLOGICAL POINTS: Yerushalmi reject its hava amina on fundamental grounds, ruling that
1. Often a simple dispute regarding a minute detail of a halakha the lottery itself without the kohen gadol determines the status? As
might reflect a more fundamental question. Thus, the dispute such, we understandably prefer absolute exclusivity -one plate
regarding the formula of the kohen's declaration might reflect the per animal - to allow this independent designation. Or does the
nature of this declaration. Yerushalmi maintain its overall view? The kohen gadol indeed is the
2. An ambiguous verse is often the true source for a later dispute. source for this selection; however, a gezeirat ha-katuv mandates that
Sometimes the ambiguity allows for two distinct logical concepts. only one plate be placed on each animal. At its essence, though,
Who designates the korban - only the lottery or even the kohen the selection stems from the kohen gadol; he replaces his
gadol? standard tool of verbal declaration with the Yom Kippur tool -
We noted Rashi's opinion that in the absence of a lottery, the INTERIM SUMMARY: Even if we focus upon the lottery as the sole
verbal declaration of the kohen can independently assign status. decision-maker, one could search for a hidden role for the kohen
Does this change our view of this assignment when the lottery gadol within the lottery. Especially when the Yerushalmi raises the
is performed? Perhaps according to R. Yochanan the LOTTERY is possibility of non-decisive goralot, the conception of the kohen gadol
merely a preface to the verbal assignment, which ALWAYS as an arbiter becomes more and more attractive. When these
bestows the identity. See the Mikdash David (24:3) and the versions of the lottery are rejected, one is left to wonder whether this
Gevurot Ari (Yoma 39b). essential view of lottery was also negated.
PART 2 - THE NATURE AND MECHANICS OF THE LOTTERY Is there any hint of this viewpoint in the Bavli? Is there any
Ostensibly, the lottery has a mind of its own and the kohen halakha which ISN'T REJECTED which might mirror this idea? The
gadol merely triggers it. He plays no active role in the selection; he Rosh (in his summary of Hilkhot Yom Ha-kippurim) writes, "If the
simply chooses two plates from the box, one of which is engraved kohen does not actually place the lottery plates on top of the animals
with the name of God and one with the word "la-azazel" (to the (hanacha), the lottery is valid, as long as he knows which plate
desert). Each animal receives the status corresponding to the landed in his right hand and which in his left." This is indeed a
name written on the plate above its head. The lottery thus startling ruling: the kohen gadol must be cognizant of the results
determines a reality of its own without substantive human input. of the lottery. The same halakha emerges from Rashi (Yoma 40b
Two statements in the Yerushalmi, however, call this view into s.v. Keivan she- ala). Possibly this added requirement - recognition
question. on the part of the kohen gadol - reflects the fact that he isn't a
The Yerushalmi (4:1) raises the following question. Why must passive participant in the lottery, but rather he confers the identity
the lottery involve two plates with distinct words engraved? Why THROUGH the lottery. Remember the Rosh and Rashi make their
can't the kohen gadol employ instead white and black ribbons or claims even according to the gemara's conclusion!
white and black stones to designate the two animals? The One final manifestation might concern the anatomy of the actual
possibility of using non- defined ribbons raises an intriguing view of lottery. The gemara (39b) contends that no one requires the actual
the lottery. Black and white ribbons cannot independently placement of the plates on top of the animal (be-dieved). According
determine the status of each animal; the meaning of their color to Ulla, however, the elevation of the plates from the box is required.
must be determined by a person. If the Yerushalmi actually (R. Yochanan disputes this opinion and does not even require this
considers this option, does it then ascribe a greater role to the much; see Part I for alternate selection mechanisms.) What is
kohen gadol? Instead of merely "switching on" the machine and interesting is that according to Ulla, not only is the actual
allowing the lottery to run on its own, does he actually play a performance of the goral (literally, throwing the lots) necessary, but
subtle yet substantive role in determining the identity of the also the elevation of the plates. Why must the plates be raised?
animals? This would mean that although the kohen usually confers Why can't someone look into the box and announce which plate
these identities through verbal designation, on Yom Kippur, landed in each hand of the kohen gadol? Might Ulla view the kohen's
because of a special gezeirat ha-katuv (scriptural decree), he role as more active, maintaining that he must actually translate the
employs the technique of a lottery. He is still, however, the preliminary results of the lottery into the final designation of
driving force in imposing the animal's status. The difference respective identities? Possibly, these two aspects of lottery - that
between the general case and Yom Kippur is not in substance or he must be conscious of the results and that he must elevate the
nature but merely in METHOD. In either case, however, a person plates - each reflect the kohen gadol's subtle role in actively
actively determines the status. designating the identities of the animals through the medium of the
The Yerushalmi cites a verse to reject this possibility. Since lottery.
the Torah writes, "Goral echad la- Shem" (One goral should be METHODOLOGICAL POINTS:
designated for God - Vayikra 16:8), we infer that the lottery must be 1. Hava aminot are valuable because they provide novel and
self-defined. Instead of employing non-specific ribbons or stones, the sometimes provocative ways to view halakhot. Even when these
kohen must utilize explicitly named plates. What is not clear is the hava aminot are ultimately rejected, their logical foundation might
logic behind this requirement. Does it reflect the fact that the goral be preserved. The hava amina might be slightly modified for
itself and not the kohen must act alone to determine the identity of unrelated reasons - such as a gezeirat ha-katuv.
the animals? To be fully independent, the lottery must be inscribed 2. Especially important are issues raised by the Yerushalmi
with the two different words. If this is indeed the rationale, then which do not appear in the Bavli. They provide an entirely
the conclusion - that the goralot (lottery plates) must be 8 different angle on the same halakhot. Of course, one might
always contend that the Yerushalmi and the Bavli disagree. This is
very often the subject of debate amongst Talmudic commentators.
Could we possibly distinguish between the need for selecting
the goat designated as a sacrifice, and the need to select the goat
sent to its death in the desert? After all, in the case of the former the
mishna describes a verbal declaration on the part of the kohen
gadol, while in the case of the latter no such process is
mentioned. Could the kohen be involved in actively designating
the goat for God (which is akin to a standard korban), but not in
selecting an animal sent to the desert? See the Ramban in Acharei
Mot, who describes the purpose of lottery vis-a-vis the animal sent
to the desert.