Wednesday, September 19, 2007

mitzvah of tshuvah on Yom Kippur

R’ Yonah in Sharei Tshuvah (2:15) has an interesting line where he writes, “Mitzvas aseh min haTorah l’ha’ir adam es rucho lachzor b’tshuva b’Yom haKippurim”, that there is a mitzvah to do tshuvah specifically on Yom Kippur based on the pasuk of “M’kol chatoseichem lifnei Hashem titharu” (VaYikra 16,30). It seems like this is not a halacha in hilchos tshuvah per se but rather a halacha in the celebration of the day of Yom Kippur, i.e. one of the mitzvos hayom unique to the Yom Tov.


  1. The Rambam clearly states that the mitsvah of teshuva on Yom Kippur is a specific application of the general mitsvah of teshuva. What about R' Yonah's words indicates that we have a mahloqet here?

  2. The Rambam also writes that there is a mitzvah to do teshuvah on YK (in perek 2 of hilchos teshuvah) and IIRC, the Chinuch also singles out YK -- but in the mitzvah of Vidui/teshuvah. Based on a number of places in the Rambam, I always thought that the pshat is that whenever there is an opportunity for kaparah, you have a chiyuv to be misvadeh (which will then require teshuvah). Hence, before one is makriv a korban, before someone is executed by beis din or given malkus and before YK -- in all of those cases there is an opportunity for kaparah so there is a chiyuv to be misvadeh. With this approach (which I think works in the Rambam with other rayos as well and could work in RY and the Chinuch, though not as clear), it is not per se a din in YK but in kaparah/vidui/teshuvah. The idea that is it is taluy on the pasuk lifnei Hashem titharu is simply that that pasuk proves this is an opportunity for kaparah.

  3. I had not seen RJM's comments when I posted.

  4. My impression was that the Rambam is simply saying that certain times are more auspicious for tshuvah, are easier to do tshuvah in, but not that there is a specific distinct chiyuv d'oraysa to do tshuvah on that day. Compare with the previous halacha to the one you refer to where the Rambam writes that tshuvah is "yafeh l'olam" but during 10 days between R"H and Y"K it is "yafeh b'yoseir". The R' Yonah seems a much stronger formulation.
    Anon1, your point would explain why there is a chiyuv of viduy before misas B"D as well.

    P.S. RJM, nice to see you back in bloggerland - your presence has been missed.

  5. My absence has been due to two factors:

    1 - An ongoing administrative crisis in my synagogue around the High Holiday Season which has only been resolved as of 2 weeks ago

    2 - The arrival of a new baby boy about two and a half weeks ago.

    I also generally felt that too much bitul zeman was occasioned by excessive reading and commenting on blogs - it can be addictive.

    If memory serves, the Rambam in Perek 2 says something like "Yom Kippur is a time of kappara for all, individual and community, and is the end of seliha and mehila for Israel. Therefore everyone is obligated to do teshuva and confess on Y"K."

    This substantiates the view that Y"K is a special application of the general mitsvah of teshuva.

  6. Mazal Tov! Did not know you had a baby.