Rav Moshe Twersky Hy”d On Vayeilech/Yom Kippur

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By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman 

It’s always from Hashem     אמר ביום ההוא הלא על כי אין אלקי בקרבי מצאוני הרעות האלה (לא:יז)

It seems as though this is a statement of teshuva on the part of Klal Yisrael; that they recognize that their aveiros caused the Shechina to leave them.  However the next pasuk says “v’Anochi haster astir panay ba’yom ha’hu”.  Why would hester panim be the response to teshuva?  The Ramban learns that, yes, the pasuk is a statement of thoughts of teshuva, but it isn’t followed through with proper teshuva on the practical level.  Rav Simcha Bunim mi’Pshischa, though, learns that the statement “ein Elokai b’kirbi” is itself a terrible thing.  The worst thing that can happen is if Yidden think that what is happening to them is not from Hashem, that Hashem doesn’t care about them and has simply cast them aside.  Thinking that what happens is not from Hashem only leads to deeper hester panim in which it becomes even more difficult to see the yad Hashem.  It is critical to be aware that no matter what, everything that happens is always hashgacha.

(From the editor)


Yom Kippur: Realm of Olam Ha’Bah

The Ramah paskens that we do not make a bracha on besamim as part of Havdalah after Yom Kippur.  As the source for this, the Gra points to the statement of Rashi that it is the neshama yeseira, the extra soul that enables a person to eat more and take in all the extra pleasures of Shabbos, and the loss thereof necessitates smelling sweet spices.  The implication of this, seemingly, is that on Yom Kippur there is no neshama yeseira.

However, there is a difficult question on this.  The Ramah says that we do not say Nishmas on Hoshana Rabbah.  As the source for that Halacha, the Biur Ha’Gra points to the Rashbam’s statement regarding when Yomtov falls out immediately following Shabbos; when that happens the reason we do not include making a bracha on besamim as part of Havdalah is because on Yomtov there is also a neshama yeseirah, and thus no need for besamim after Shabbos.

The implication of this Biur Ha’Gra is that only on Shabbos and Yomtov is there a neshama yeseirah, but not on Hoshana Rabbah or any other day of Chol Ha’Moed, and that that is the reason why we don’t say Nishmas then; because Nishmas is only said on days that have a neshama yeseirah.

This apparently comprises a contradiction, because we do of course say Nishmas on Yom Kippur, but if there is no neshama yeseirah on Yom Kippur, then why do we say it?!

The answer lies in a statement in the writings of the Gra which provides another understanding of the function of the neshama yeseirah.  Shabbos is akin to Olam Ha’Bah.  In order to appreciate and experience this elevated status, the person must be raised to greater spiritual heights.  The neshama yeseirah provides that boost, allowing him to enjoy the taste of Olam Ha’Bah in Shabbos.

However, the distinction of Shabbos is only a mei’ein, a likeness of Olam Ha’Bah, and can only be realized with the advantage of the neshama yeseirah.  Yom Kippur, on the other hand, elevates the actual physical body to the point at which we can enter Olam Ha’Bah as physical beings.  Shabbos has a taste of Olam Ha’Bah, but Yom Kippur literally is the realm of Olam Ha’Bah!

It is like being in Olam Ha’Bah for twenty four hours.  This is something that every Jew cannot help but feel!  We don’t eat or drink or engage in the other physical activities, just like in Olam Ha’Bah these things are absent.

During Neilah you have to pinch yourself to make sure that you are still there.  A mere few hours after Yom Kippur is over, if you try to recall where you were then, it feels as if it was a different world…because it was a different world; and already the next day, Yom Kippur feels so far away.

And that is also why we don’t smell besamim after Yom Kippur.  After Shabbos, we smell besamim to help us cope with the loss of our neshama yeseirah, but leaving Yom Kippur is an exit from a state of being a neshama, being in Olam Ha’Bah, and for that, besamim just wouldn’t help!

Some people feel depressed that the day after Yom Kippur they feel like they have no connection to it anymore.  But I say, on the contrary, that’s the biggest indication that you were occupying a totally different realm on Yom Kippur, and now it feels so distant because we’re not in the same world anymore!

(Synthesis of what was heard from numerous talmidim)


The importance of learning on motzaei Yom Kippur

Having a solid learning seider on motzaei Yom Kippur is very important.  It is the “makeh-b’patish” that ensures that one gets a proper kinyan on the benefits of having just gone through a Yom Kippur.  The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva would tell bachurim that they should only return home for bein hazmanim the day after Yom Kippur rather than travel immediately after the fast and lose the opportunity to learn, even if that means having to forgo getting a private ride and needing to use public transportation instead.

But what about the Ramah says that one should ideally start building his sukkah on motzaei Yom Kippur?  That we can fulfill through the vehicle of u’n’shalmah parim sefaseinu…take out Maseches Sukkah and learn some of the sugyos of Sukkah!”

(From numerous talmidim)


How one goes back to regular life following Yom Kippur

For many years, Rav Twersky would always conclude his motzaei Yom Kippur shiur with the following message.  “I know we say this every year, but we say it every year because it is worthwhile to say it every year.

“After describing the process of brining korbanos that a nazir is obliged in upon completing his course of nezirus, the pasuk concludes by saying, ‘and afterwards shall the nazir drink wine’.  There is a basic, straightforward question on the wording of this pasuk: why does it still refer to him as a nazir at this stage?  He just finished being a nazir and is now going back to normal life!”

“The answer is that a nazir goes back to drinking wine the way a nazir goes back to wine.  In other words, he doesn’t lose the moment and simply revert back to his old self, as if nothing happened.  It’s not like being on a diet and then binging the day after.  The nazir, because of his experience as a nazir, is a changed man and takes his new self into his return to the routine of life.

“So too, we go back into the new year from a Yom Kippur – we go back to our food and our lives – as a Yom Kippur Jew goes back to his life.”

(From Reb Mickey Dov Lebovic)

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