Friday, September 10, 2021

v'amar ba'yom ha'hu -- don't delay!

I am trying to wrap my head around the phenomenon of flying hundreds of miles to spend Rosh haShana in less than luxurious accommodations to be close to the kever of a tzadik ostensibly because one craves the spiritual uplift and boost from being there, and then on the way back breaking the law by falsifying Covid tests.  I know - who am I to talk since despite spending hours in shul on R"H, I've probably done plenty wrong already, but in my meager defense at least it has not made the front pages of the news.  

וְחָרָ֣ה אַפִּ֣י ב֣וֹ בַיּוֹם־הַ֠ה֠וּא וַעֲזַבְתִּ֞ים וְהִסְתַּרְתִּ֨י פָנַ֤י מֵהֶם֙ וְהָיָ֣ה לֶאֱכֹ֔ל וּמְצָאֻ֛הוּ רָע֥וֹת רַבּ֖וֹת וְצָר֑וֹת וְאָמַר֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא הֲלֹ֗א עַ֣ל כִּי־אֵ֤ין אלקי בְּקִרְבִּ֔י מְצָא֖וּנִי הָרָע֥וֹת הָאֵֽלֶּה

 וְאָנֹכִ֗י הַסְתֵּ֨ר אַסְתִּ֤יר פָּנַי֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא עַ֥ל כׇּל־הָרָעָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה

Ramban asks: if Bnei Yisrael acknowledged that  עַ֣ל כִּי־אֵ֤ין אלקי בְּקִרְבִּ֔י מְצָא֖וּנִי הָרָע֥וֹת הָאֵֽלֶּה, that it is because they turned away from Hashem that they are in trouble, i.e. they acknowledged their sins, why should Hashem respond with further hester panim instead of accepting their return?

R' Tzadok haKohen answers that hester panim here does not mean turning away from Bnei Yisrael, but rather it means looking away from their wrongdoings.  Because there was teshuvah, Hashem no longer looks at the sins done in the past.

HaKsav v'haKabbalah proves this pshat from the language of the pesukim.  In the first pasuk the Torah identifies "them," the people,  וְהִסְתַּרְתִּ֨י פָנַ֤י מֵהֶם֙, as the ones Hashem is turning away from.  The second pasuk  just says וְאָנֹכִ֗י הַסְתֵּ֨ר אַסְתִּ֤יר פָּנַי֙ , with no object, and then continues  עַ֥ל כׇּל־הָרָעָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה.   It's must be that it is the רָעָ֖ה which Hashem is turning away from, not the people.  He writes:

  כי לעיל אמר והסתרתי פני מהם שפי׳ ההסתרה תהיה מהם, אבל כאן סתם לדבר, לכן נראה שהכתוב פי׳ ההסתרה ממי יסתיר, ומובנו הוא ממש להפך,... 

 אני אעשה כענין מאמר המשורר הסתר פניך מחטאי וכל עונותי מחה, שהסתר פני׳ מחטאי׳ שהיא ממש מחוי העונות שמעביר מכנגד פניו ולא יביט עוד בהם, כן אנכי הסתר אסתיר פני על כל הרעה, תהיה ההסתרה על הרעה שעשו, שלא אראה ברעתם שעשו

Chazal tell us that as a general rule אין והי׳ אלא לשׁון שׂמחה.  When you see the word והי׳, it means we are talking about something good.  What's so good about what this parsha is describing?  What is there to be happy about when you read וְהָיָ֣ה לֶאֱכֹ֔ל וּמְצָאֻ֛הוּ רָע֥וֹת רַבּ֖וֹת וְצָר֑וֹת?

Rav Schwadron in Techeiles Mordechai quotes the Yaaros Devash that it is much easier to do teshuvah if it is done immediately rather than delaying.  If you push a problem to the back burner, it is hard to come back to it, and it becomes part of the harmful baggage that one shleps around.

The chapter of Tehillim (51) that talks about David's reaction to Noson ha'navi telling him that what he did with Bat Sheva was wrong starts with the words לַמְנַצֵּ֗חַ מִזְמ֥וֹר לְדָוִֽד.  It's a mizmor, not a kinah, explains the Yaaros Devash, because by Noson telling him right away that he had done wrong, David was able to immediately do teshuvah and not let the cheit linger.

The silver lining of the punishment Bnei Yisrael receive for their sins is that  וְאָמַר֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא הֲלֹ֗א עַ֣ל כִּי־אֵ֤ין אלקי בְּקִרְבִּ֔י, it elicits an immediate reaction of teshuvah.  The simcha of the parsha is that we don't delay; we seize the opportunity to repent as soon as wrongdoing presents itself.

When one faces up immediately to one's faults and faces up to them, then Hashem inversely reacts in turn by "haster astir," by turning his face away from those wrongdoing and clearing one's slate.


  1. הָיָ֣ה לֶאֱכֹ֔ל וּמְצָאֻ֛הוּ רָע֥וֹת רַבּ֖וֹת וְצָר֑וֹת וְאָמַר֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא הֲלֹ֗א עַ֣ל כִּי־אֵ֤ין אלקי בְּקִרְבִּ֔י מְצָא֖וּנִי הָרָע֥וֹת הָאֵֽלֶּה

    וְאָנֹכִ֗י הַסְתֵּ֨ר אַסְתִּ֤יר פָּנַי֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא
    after all the pain you think you are alone without God and we commit one more sin and that sin is saying אֵ֤ין אלקי בְּקִרְבִּ֔י
    the punishment for this is
    וְאָנֹכִ֗י הַסְתֵּ֨ר אַסְתִּ֤יר פָּנַי֙

    1. True as well. The Sefas Emes quotes that from R' Bunim m'Peshischa many, many times.