“The World exists by virtue of three things, Din, Emet and Shalom, as it
is written, ‘In truth, justice and peace shall you judge in your gates’
[Zechariah, 8:16],” (Mishnah Avot, chapter 1, mishnah 18)
Just as this simply applies in general, so too, it applies spiritually to
the three periods, Rosh Hashanah- Din. Yom Hakippurim- Emet, and Sukkot-
Rosh Hashanah is Din since it is the rejection of the evil that could
delay the abundance of kedusha from flowing both to the individual and to
Yom Hakippurim is Emet since that day is purity and holiness personified.
Mussaf of that day is Moshe Rabbenu according to the Zohar; “Emet and
Chesed shall meet and merge, that is Moshe [emet[ and Aharon [chesed]”(
Shmot Rabbah, 5; Maharal, Netiv Haemet chapter 1, deals with it at
length). Emet is everything that is constant while everything that is by
chance or transitory or subject to change cannot be true since they apply
only to a specific time or place. So a river that only flows
intermittently is called ‘a river that deceives, machziv’. Therefore, on
Yom Hakippurim, through Emet, is revealed the whole merit of Israel, since
they are eternal, pure and holy. Therefore that day is one of atonement
and forgiveness for all of Israel’s sins: “ The saiyar hamistaleach will
carry them – that is, the sins- on the head of Eisav, even as Yaakov
said ‘and my brother Eisav is ish sa’ir’; and Yaakov- Ish Tam Tam that
contains in it emet” ( Bereishit Rabbah 65). Any sin or impurity is
attached to Israel only through their contact with the gentile nations,
even as it is written: “but they mingled themselves with the nations and
learnt their ways” (Tehillim 106:35) or through the evil of the nations
that contaminates the spiritual air just as physical pollution brings
illness and causes respiratory diseases.
Sukkot is Shalom and its mussaf is Aharon who brought peace to Earth and
on High. It is a time of the unification of all of Israel’s strengths and
merits-‘Shalom and Emet meet’. The Arbah Minim hint at this, so some
people will bring atonement for others and others will atone for them. The
Sukkah that is the gematria of Hashem’s Name unites Heaven and Earth. “All
of Israel are worthy of sitting together in one Sukkah” (Sukkah 27b); this
would be impossible if they are divided because of their sins. This is
only possible after Yom Kippur that is Emet cleanses Israel of its sins
and of its shortcomings.
So we see that Din, Emet and Shalom are in effect in time these three
periods- Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot,- and that the World depends on them.
Shem Mi Shmuel Yom Hakippurim, 5679.
MOTZEI YOM HAKIPPURIM.
“Moshe was perplexed as to what caused two great zaddikim [Nadav ve Avihu]
to sin, and had difficulty understanding why (Vayikrah 16:1) Hashem spoke
about their sin being, ‘Bekarvam’-when they drew close, and not
Behakrivam’- their sacrificing. So Hashem answered Moshe that what caused
them to sin was their great desire to do something that He had not
commanded them but rather had commanded their father, Aharon” (Zohar,
It is necessary to see that the text in Aharei Mot explicitly states
bekaravam, while in Shemini it says vayakrivu and in Bamidbar, behakrivam;
at the same time, although the Zohar writes that their father was
commanded, we know that they offered ‘strange fire’ that not even their
father was commanded to do. Hashem explained to Moshe that their sin
originated from their desire to draw close and its effect was the strange
fire whereas Aharon was coomanded to draw close.
The Avnei Nezer said that when a person remains at a distance from Hashem
out of fear and respect, and recognition of His Greatness, then evil
thoughts and strange undesirable passions are unable to draw close to him
nor to enter the areas of kedusha. The sons of Aharon tried in their
ecstasy, to go beyond their spiritual levels and do that which, although
their father was commanded, they were not, bekarvam.
It was because of the danger inherent in the ecstasy of entering Hashem’s
Presence that even the Kohen Hagadol was only permitted to do so on om
Hakippurim, when the Sitra Acher is removed through the se’ir
hamistaleach,. For the same reason, the lots on the two goats, were cast
before the actual Avoda inside began, although practically speaking, it
would have been alright to do so after the casting of the blood of the
Par. [Elsewhere the Shem Mi Shmuel writes that that is the reason why the
awe and the astonishment and spiritual ecstasy we experience when
witnessing miracles is insufficient and has to be accompanied by our
discipline and containment, otherwise we may be led by an excess of
ecstasy to offer strange fire].
It is possible now to explain the difficulty of Chazal as to why Sukkot
comes after Yom Hakippurim and not as should be in a historical
perspective in Nissan (Tur, Orekh Chaim, section 625). Sukkot is cast in
the mould of the Mikdash and our entry there is like , “And the King
brought me into His Chamber’ . That entry is only possible for all of
Israel, without any spiritual harm, after the sitra acher has been cast
off through Yom Hakippurim.
Shem Mi Shmuel, Yom Hakippurim, 56737.
As this series of advanced Torah study is drawing to its conclusion, I
would like to draw your attention to my new course on the Parshat
Hashavuah with Abarbanel, starting Shabbat Bereishit on this web site.
DON YITZCHAK ABARBANEL,
A TORAH SCHOLAR FOR OUR OPEN SOCIETY.
This Torah scholar, diplomat, financier, mystic and leader of his people,
although living some 5 centuries ago, is particularly pertinent to the
modern open society and global village in which we live, in a way that no
other scholar seems to be. He is probably the last person to combine
within his person 4 major and long existent Jewish traditions;
philosopher, statesman, torah scholarship and cabbalist. His commentary on
the Torah seems particularly suitable to those of us who earn our
livelihoods, engage in business or professions and willy-nilly are
confronted with the challenges of living globally, for the first time
since his period, in free societies.
Faced with the challenges inherent in the cultural and religious free
market of his time – 15th century Spain, his knowledge of Torah,
philosophy, both Jewish and that of classical Greece and European
Renaissance, and mystical sources, he presents a commentary suitable to us
living in a similar assimilatory prone, open and spiritually free society.
As a scion of traumatic Jewish expulsion, persecution and suffering, his
ideas of galut, redemption and messianism are extremely relevant to our
post holocaust generation.
Adopting a special Socratic style of detailed questions and answers, he
produces a commentary on the Chumash and the Nach that is familiar and
convenient for us trained as we are, knowingly or unknowingly, in Greek
methods of thought and those of science and technology. Furthermore, he
constantly refers to the classical commentators who preceded him- Rashi,
Rambam, Ibn Ezrah, Ralbag and Ramban. However, he then goes on to supply
his own comments reflecting his own very specific approach.