nitzavim vayelekh

september 20th 2014

Elul 25th 5774


Preparing for the Day of Judgment in Thought and Deed

by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita

It is written, “You are standing today, all of you, before Hashem your G-d: The leaders of your tribes, your elders, and your officers” (Devarim 29:9).

This verse, which is generally read on the last Shabbat of the year, just before Rosh Hashanah, seems to be alluding to the day of judgment on Rosh Hashanah. When the day of judgment comes, a person wakes up and multiplies his prayers to the Creator, asking to be forgiven for all the sins that he committed throughout the year. This is because he feels that he cannot present himself in judgment while stained with sins, some more serious and others less, and he wants to merit a good year.

Yet how can a person think that Hashem has accepted his prayers and forgiven all his sins if he never repented? How can he possibly imagine that he will merit a good year if he has not yet decided to never return to his sins?

Bringing About a Real Change

This is why a person must sincerely repent of all the sins that he committed, meaning that he must fully regret them and take it upon himself to never commit them again. This resolution must be so firm that G-d, Who knows all that is hidden, can affirm that he will never return to his sins, as our teacher the Rambam states in Hilchot Teshuvah 2:2. It is only when these conditions are met that Hashem will hear his prayers and forgive him. When this person presents himself on the day of judgment, Hashem will see the change that has taken place in him and will declare him innocent. He will then merit a good year that is filled with blessings.

This idea is alluded to in the verse, “You are standing today.” Now the term atem (“you”) is composed of the same letters as emet (“truth”), and the Sages say that the term hayom (“today” – literally “the day”) refers to the day of judgment, Rosh Hashanah (see Zohar III:231a). This means that as we are standing before Hashem to be judged for all our actions on Rosh Hashanah, which is the day of judgment, we must cleave to the truth. In fact there is no falsehood before Hashem, nor are there bribes. The tzaddik pays in proportion to his righteousness, and the rasha in proportion to his wickedness, each according to his deeds.

If a person is infused with lies and falsehood, then how can he dare stand in judgment before Hashem and ask for forgiveness, since he has not yet truly repented? How can he not be completely ashamed to open his mouth, since he has not yet sincerely decided to stop sinning? He stands there as a liar and utters falsehood, so can he expect the Holy One, blessed be He, Who is truth, to forgive his sins and declare him innocent? Hence the verse warns us, “You are standing today, all of you, before Hashem your G-d.” On the day of judgment, when you stand in judgment before Hashem, you must grab hold of atem – emet (truth) – and be like the leaders of your tribes, your elders, and your officers. In fact the leaders of the tribes of Israel are the tzaddikim of the generation, men who do teshuvah that is truly perfect. Every Jew must learn from the example of the leaders of the Jewish people, presenting themselves in judgment with truth in their hearts. By doing so, we will certainly be judged innocent, like the leaders of the Children of Israel, who are the tzaddikim of the generation.

Ensuring Stability

According to this explanation, we can understand the juxtaposition of Parsha Nitzavim to Parsha Vayeilech, and why they are sometimes read together. This seems contradictory, for if we are standing (nitzavim), there can be no walking (vayeilech). Likewise if we are walking, then vayeilech is no longer nitzavim. What we need to understand is that real stability lies solely in the fact that a person is yatziv (“stable”) and honest with himself, meaning when he does not deceive himself. This only happens when he walks in the way of the truth, which is the Torah, the way of Hashem, as it is written: “If you walk in My statutes” (Vayikra 26:3) and “I will walk in broad pathways” (Tehillim 119:45).

Walking in the way of truth – the way of Torah, the way of Hashem – represents the greatest stability that can exist in a person’s life. It is also the connection between Parsha Nitzavim and Parsha Vayeilech. In other words, today you can only stand stable and sincere with yourselves if you walk in the way of truth, the way of Torah, the way of Hashem.

If we correct in this regard, we can also understand the verse: “The matter is very close to you – in your mouth and your heart – to perform it” (Devarim 30:14). The commentators ask the following question: Since the Sages have said, “Not study, but action is the main thing” (Pirkei Avoth 1:17), then why is it important for the matter to be close to you, “in your mouth and your heart”? All that is needed is that it should be close enough for you to do it, since action is the main thing!

The answer is that when a person studies Torah in order to fulfill it, the Holy One, blessed be He, connects intention to action (Kiddushin 40a), and such a person is considered to have fulfilled it despite the fact that he only studied it. This only applies, however, when the goal of study is action, when “in your mouth and your heart” exists only for the sake of taking proper action. In other words, “in your mouth and your heart” refers to the perfect execution of a mitzvah, which is not the case without prior preparation. In that case, the deed is not in keeping with the mouth and the heart, but resembles a body without a soul, for thought is not connected to deed.

According to what we have said, this is completely understandable. Preparing to take action can only occur when a person maintains his stability, follows the way of truth and the way of Torah – the way of Hashem. It can only occur when he cleaves to the truth, does not delude himself, or come before Hashem asking for forgiveness despite the fact that there has been absolutely no change in his heart. In that case, preparing for the day of judgment takes place with action, the mouth and the heart, in order to ask for forgiveness from the Creator of the world. Hashem will then forgive, for it is written: “Hashem is close to the brokenhearted, and He saves those with a crushed spirit” (Tehillim 34:19).

Rabbi Haim Pinto Hagadol

In Honor of his Hilloula on Elul 26

“I will continue to stand close to Hashem in prayer after my death, as I have done in life. I will not abandon you after my death, just as I did not abandon you in life.” These were the last words of our holy teacher, the tzaddik who worked miracles, Rabbi Haim Pinto Hagadol, may his merit protect us. After speaking to a group of his faithful disciples with a voice that melted hearts, discussing the fear of G-d and prayer, the pure and holy soul of Rabbi Haim Pinto Hagadol, may his merit protect us, ascended to Heaven on Elul 26, 5605.

Aside from the tzaddik’s final promise, we trust in the teaching of our Sages which states: “The tzaddikim are greater in death than they are in life.” Each year we have the merit of continuously hearing more stories about his wonders, as if faith in the Creator of the world and those who obey Him was descending upon us like dew. The great tzaddik Rabbi Yosef Benvenisti Zatzal of Jerusalem, a descendant of the gaon and author of Knesset Hagedolah, would travel to Morocco from time to time for the needs of the HaSepharadim Kollel of Jerusalem. He did this in order to gain the involvement of Moroccan Jews in supporting those who study Torah and their families, who were often numerous.

While in Morocco, Rabbi Yosef went each day without fail to pray by the grave of Rabbi Haim Pinto Hagadol, may his merit protect us, in Mogador. Even when he returned to Jerusalem, he would send a letter each month to his grandson, who lived in Morocco, along with a sum of money so that he could bless him by the grave of Rabbi Haim Pinto, something that he did until his final days. In this regard, it is said that on one occasion, several residents of Jerusalem asked Rabbi Yosef why he did all this, honoring the memory of Rabbi Haim Pinto to such a great extent.

The tzaddik replied, “You can be certain that whoever possesses the merit of the fathers is one who understands what the merit of the fathers means! And one who does not possess the merit of the fathers does not understand its great value. As for myself, who also possesses the merit of the fathers, I understand its value. That is why I send money in exchange for prayers for me by the grave of Rabbi Haim Pinto, may his merit protect us” (Sefer Shnot Chaim).

Maintaining Enthusiasm

On several occasions, we have been fortunate enough to hear directly from our teacher, the gaon and tzaddik Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita, concerning the great power of the tzaddik and venerated Rabbi Haim Pinto Hagadol, may his merit protect us, on the day of his Hilloula: “We clearly perceive miracles and wonders, extraordinary stories of salvation and deliverance from all the Jews who come to pray by the grave of the tzaddik, by all who pray and ask for a blessing by the power of Rabbi Haim Pinto’s Torah and sanctity, may his merit protect us. We see the deep sincerity of all who come to participate in his Hilloula. On one hand, we have educated and respected individuals, those whose entire life is generally devoted to material pursuits. Yet on the other hand, when they go to his grave, everything becomes spiritual. By his grave, they completely annul themselves and become other people. This is an indication that deep down, they are good and honest.

“When a person stands before his tombstone and sees all the surrounding graves, he realizes that this is the end of all men. He therefore casts aside his material concerns and becomes completely spiritual. In the end, once the Hilloula concludes, each person returns home with a feeling of spiritual growth. At that point, the evil inclination begins its work and tries to make him forget all the spiritual gains that he made during the Hilloula. Things then depend solely on us, and we are obligated to defeat it, as it is said: ‘When you go out to war against your enemies…and you take captives.’ By this I mean that we must put an effort into capturing the evil inclination before it captures us, and only through Torah can we easily defeat it. The evil inclination knows this, which is why it constantly tries to make us stumble. Hence the verse says: ‘you take captives’ – this war must be permanent, meaning that we must always be taking captives, not just once. The evil inclination knows that once our spiritual enthusiasm wanes, our spiritual joy will diminish within a few days.

“It therefore bides its time, waiting for its moment. That is why a person must constantly be growing, always reinforcing the spiritual gains that he made at the Hilloula of the tzaddik. The sanctity that he so easily received by the grave of the tzaddik on the day of his Hilloula – especially after several days of growing in Torah and mitzvot, along with stories about the tzaddikim – must be safeguarded with warmth and enthusiasm. He must add to it day after day, like the fire on the altar, which never went out. This is a difficult task, however, and one that requires a great deal of help from Heaven. Otherwise it will be impossible to defeat the evil inclination, which attempts to make man fall. Hence it is written, “Hashem your G-d will deliver him into your hand,” meaning that with Heaven’s help, a person can safeguard his sanctity and continue to spiritually grow for the rest of his life.”

The Paper is White

What follows is an extraordinary story that teaches us the great sanctity of Rabbi Haim Pinto Hagadol, may his merit protect us:

A wealthy Jew from Essaouira sold his house to another Jew in the city. The seller and buyer agreed to all details of the sale, which was in accordance with the Halachah. Once the buyer paid the full amount for the house, he moved in.

A few days later, it happened that the seller, who lived in a nearby house, opened his window shutters that faced the buyer’s new house. In fact he could see everything that was happening inside. The buyer, who realized what was happening, asked the seller to close his shutters because he wanted to protect his privacy, especially since this was a case of hezek re’iyah (“damage caused by visibility”). However his repeated requests fell on deaf ears. The seller had no intention of listening to the buyer, and he continued to keep his shutters open.

In his distress, the buyer addressed the tzaddik Rabbi Haim Pinto, who summoned the seller to a din Torah. On the day of the case, both buyer and seller presented themselves before the Rav and explained their positions.

When they had finished speaking, the Rav saw that the buyer was in the right, since the seller’s open shutters were causing damage to his home. Hence the Rav ordered the seller to close his stutters and return them to their previous state. The seller was visibly upset that he had lost, angry that Rabbi Haim had sided with the buyer and had made him lose his case. He objected to the verdict, but kept his mouth closed. In his wickedness, however, he forged a document which stated that the buyer owed him a large sum of money, a document that he hid away for the future.

Several years passed, and the buyer had a baby boy. However he was penniless at that point, and he did not know how he was going to pay for the meal to celebrate the Brit Milah. If that wasn’t enough, he didn’t even have enough furniture in his home to invite guests for the meal.

The buyer paced around in his home, completely worried. Without realizing it, his legs brought him to the local market. Although he only had two rials (Moroccan currency at the time) in his pocket, which were like a drop in the bucket, he placed his faith in G-d and prayed for help during this time of distress. When he reached the market and began walking around in a sullen state, a woman drove past him in a donkey cart loaded with fragrant herbs. With his two rials, he purchased all her merchandise and made his way back home.

When he returned home, his brother was there. Upon seeing these fragrant herbs, his brother realized that he had made a very profitable purchase, one that he wasn’t even aware of. The value of these herbs was ten times greater than what he had paid for them. He quickly took these herbs and sold them at the market for a huge gain, and then returned to the home of his poor brother, the father of the newborn, with a sack of money in his hand. The father of the newborn took the money and hastened to the market to buy everything that he needed for the celebration. He also purchased furniture for his home, and there was still a great deal of money left over, which he used to open a business.

Hashem helped his business flourish, and he gradually became a very wealthy man. During all that time, his wealthy neighbor (the man who had originally sold him his house) saw what was happening. When he learned that his neighbor had become quite wealthy, he seized the opportunity to use his forged document in court. He therefore presented himself before Rabbi Haim to summon his neighbor to a din Torah.

The former buyer was appalled by this false claim and affirmed to the Rav that he had never made such an agreement with him. He never borrowed money from this man, and apart from purchasing his house from him, he had never entered into any financial agreement with him.

Rabbi Haim reflected for a few moments. One litigant was showing him a document and claiming that his neighbor was indebted to him, while the other litigant was saying that there was no truth to it. What could he do? Rabbi Haim addressed the men and said, “Return home and come back tomorrow morning. I will render a decision then.”

The next morning, the two neighbors went to see Rabbi Haim, where they repeated their claims.

Rabbi Haim said to the plaintiff, “Give me the document and I will verify its authenticity in the Aron Kodesh. If writing appears on the document tomorrow, it means that you are right and the defendant is guilty. However if the writing on the document disappears and the paper becomes entirely white, it means that your neighbor is correct and you are lying – that there was never this agreement between you!” Thus Rabbi Haim placed the document in the Aron Kodesh, and on the following day the two litigants once again returned. The tzaddik opened the Aron Kodesh and took out the document to show them. It was blank.

“It is white. It is pure,” said Rabbi Haim to the forger. “The defendant is innocent, and you’ve forged a document in order to defraud him of money. Acknowledge your sin, for otherwise you will immediately receive a punishment from Heaven.” In fact the man admitted his sin, and he never bothered his neighbor again.

– Shevach Chaim

The Words of the Sages

One Day Before Your Death

Very few people knew his real name. He was an old, solitary figure who wore patched-up clothes and lived quietly on the fringes of society. He was extremely uncommunicative, almost never speaking to anyone. His deep and pleasant-sounding voice, which always managed to surprise those who heard it, was only heard when he served as the shaliach tzibur twice a year for the yahrtzeit of his parents, or when he was called up to the Torah.

When the early-risers arrived in synagogue, he was already there, enveloped in his tallit and donning tefillin, waiting for the Vatikin prayer to start. When people left synagogue after Shabbat, he was still sitting at his place, usually leaning over a book, either a Chumash, some Midrashot, or Ein Yaakov. Nobody actually knew when he slept. The one-room house where he lived was located at the end of the tailors’ alley. Kind-hearted Jews would sometimes give him a few coins, and compassionate women would send their children to bring him cooked food. The name by which everyone had long known him was very strange: Shuv Yom Echad (literally, “Repent one day”). People usually uttered it in a single breath, which resulted in an extremely odd name: Shuvyomechad.

Added to his enigmatic personality and obscure past was the mystery of this strange name. And yet, it seemed that his presence in the local region, just like his uncommon name, had been accepted as completely normal. The people of his village were much more preoccupied with the hardships of daily living than the question of just who was Shuvyomechad.

One day, word spread that Shuvyomechad had died. Suddenly, everyone’s attention was drawn to him. In one fell swoop, it was as if all 96 years of his life hadn’t been enough to clarify the mystery surrounding him. All kinds of rumors now began to spread about him, many speculative assumptions were circulating, everything from ger tzedek (convert) to tzaddik nistar (hidden tzaddik). Even when the village Rav called upon the entire community to bury the deceased and pay their final respects to him, it did nothing to clarify his true identity.

The public heeded the Rav’s call and attended the funeral. Standing over a recently-dug grave, the Rav opened his mouth to give his eulogy. A hush went through the large crowd, which waited with great curiosity to hear the revelations that would perhaps emerge from his mouth, which is precisely what happened.

“The deceased lived among us for close to 40 years. I heard the story of his life from my predecessor, who left this world about 25 years ago. The deceased’s real name was Shraga Feibish. Reb Shraga Feibish was the son of Reb Yehudah Leib, originally from the town of [such-and-such].

“One day, Shraga Feibish, who was a young man at the time, decided to leave his town because it had become too small for him. In fact life in the alleys where he had grown up no longer held any interest to him. He put his plan into action and left for one of the large cities, where he became a businessman and prospered.

“However the verse, ‘Yeshurun grew fat and kicked’ was fulfilled in him. With material success came a spiritual collapse: Little by little, Shraga Feibish started forsaking his old clothes for more modern attire. He then adopted a new name and began to live a life of complete abandonment. Nothing from the education that he had received was able to stop him.

“Each time he remembered the friends that he had left behind in his town, he felt tremendous contempt for them. Great pride made its way into his heart because he had been audacious enough to break the mold and clear a path of independent living for himself.

“In the middle of an active business schedule, Shraga Feibish stopped at our village during one of his journeys. He entered an inn to spend the night, and when he awoke the next morning his body felt like it was on fire. Over the next two days, his condition worsened. A doctor was called to his bedside, but all his efforts proved useless. Shraga Feibish was getting weaker with every passing minute, and he felt that his time was drawing near. He requested that the Rav, my predecessor, come to see him.

“When the Rav arrived at his bedside, Shraga Feibish had difficulty speaking. With measured words, he recounted his life to the Rav, including the name of the town where he was born and where his parents, whom he abandoned, had lived. The Rav listened carefully, and at the end he said: ‘Our Sages have taught: Shuv yom echad lifnei motcha [Repent one day before your death]. This means that a man should repent every day, lest he die the next day. What happens if the day of death comes before a man has had time to repent?’ The Rav answered this question with another teaching from the Sages: ‘One who wants to purify himself is given help – if a person makes a firm commitment to doing complete teshuvah, Heaven will help him in this, and even his life may be prolonged. Take it upon yourself to completely repent, and perhaps you will receive Divine mercy,’ said the Rav as he took leave of the sick Shraga Feibish.

“Nobody knew what happened in the head and heart of Shraga Feibish, but it was a fact that he began to recover on that day. He did not return to his family in the large city, but remained in the village. In fact he remained there for the rest of his days, and his deeds proved that he had indeed listened to the advice of the Rav and decided to become a true ba’al teshuvah. The story, which was known by the residents of the village at the time, was forgotten over the course of the years. Thus he remained known by the name attached to him.

“This morning,” ended the Rav with emotion, “his teshuvah apparently reached perfection, and he departed for the celestial yeshiva. As the Sages say, ‘Where ba’alei teshuvah stand, even perfect tzaddikim cannot stand.’ ”

Guard Your Tongue

Those Who Love Him

Lashon Harah is certainly forbidden if, by relating it, the speaker will not be liable to a financial loss, but will only be chastised or embarrassed. A person who refrains from speaking Lashon Harah in such cases should not feel any remorse if he is ridiculed or mentally anguished, for in the World to Come he will be counted among those who love G-d, and his face will shine like the sun. As our Sages say, a person who is shamed but does not shame others in return, and who hears chastisement but does not respond, earns the scriptural description: “Those who love Him are like the rising of the sun in its strength.”

– Chafetz Chaim

At the Source

A Great Reward

It is written, “Your little ones, your women, and the stranger” (Devarim 29:10).

Why were children brought?

On the day that Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah was appointed, he said: “You are standing today, all of you, your little ones, your women – the men come to hear, the women to receive a reward for making the effort to come, but why are children brought? In order to grant a reward to those who bring them.”

From here comes the custom of bringing little girls to synagogue, to grant a reward to those who bring them, increasing the reward of those who do His will by fulfilling what is written: “Hashem desired for the sake of His righteousness” (Isaiah 42:21).

Rabbi Yehoshua said to them, “Is this not a great novelty? I’m almost 70 years old, but I have not heard this until today. Happy are you, our father Abraham, from whom Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah emerged. The generation of Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah is not orphaned!”

– Mechilta D’Rabbi Yishmael

Free Will

It is written, “See, I have placed before you” (Devarim 30:15).

Before a person is born, the Holy One, blessed be He, decrees what he will be like – weak or strong, poor or rich, small or large, ugly or beautiful, fat or thin, downtrodden or uplifted, etc. – in regards to everything about him.

However if a person will be a tzaddik or a rasha – that is entirely up to him, as it written: “See, I have placed before you today life and good, and death and evil.” Further on we read, “Choose life, so that you may live.”

– Midrash Tanhuma

Israel is Young

It is written, “Be strong and courageous” (Devarim 31:7).

Moshe’s power increased at that point, and he strengthened Joshua in the eyes of all Israel, as it is written: “Moshe summoned Joshua and said to him before the eyes of all Israel: ‘Be strong and courageous!’ ” He said to him: This people, which I am giving over to you, are still very young, still children. Do not be strict with them, and do not get angry with all they do, for even their Master did not reprimand them for everything they did – as it is written, “For Israel is young and I love him” (Hosea 11:1).

– Sifrei Devarim

For Which Sin?

It is written, “Behold, your days are drawing near to die” (Devarim 31:14).

Rabbi Yehoshua of Siknin said in the name of Rabbi Levi, “When the Holy One, blessed be He, told Moshe: ‘Behold, your days are drawing near to die,’ Moshe was like a pregnant woman who was imprisoned. She gave birth in prison, raised her son there, and died there.

“One day, the king went to the prison gate and the boy began to cry, saying: ‘Sire, I was born here. I grew up here, and I don’t know what my sin was!’ The king replied, ‘It was for the sin of your mother.’

“Thus when the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moshe: ‘Behold, your days are drawing near to die,’ he replied: ‘Sovereign of the universe! For which sin?’ He said to him, ‘For the sin of the first man.’ ”

– Midrash Zutah Kohelet

The Trumpets

It is written, “Gather to me all the elders of your tribes” (Devarim 31:28).

Rabbi Yehoshua of Siknin said in the name of Rabbi Levi: “The two trumpets which existed in the days of Moshe were hidden away. One verse states, ‘When they sound a long blast with them, the entire assembly shall gather to you’ [Bamidbar 10:3], while another verse states: ‘Gather to me all the elders of your tribes.’ ”

Where, then, were the trumpets? It is said that they were already hidden away during the lifetime of Moshe. The Holy One, blessed be He, said: “Why should he die and his sons blow the trumpets before him?” No, for “he has no power over the day of death” [Kohelet 8:8].

Rabbi Eleazar said in the name of Rabbi Shimon: “The Holy One, blessed be He, conferred a great honor on Moshe by telling him, ‘Make for yourself two silver trumpets’ [Bamidbar 10:2], rather than giving the command to Joshua.”

– Kohelet Rabba

In the Light of the Parsha

Angels will Hasten

In the Musaf service for the Days of Awe, Rabbi Amnon of Mayence introduced the prayer: “Angels will hasten, trembling and terror will seize them, and they will say: ‘Behold, it is the day of judgment, to muster the heavenly host for judgment!’ ”

This requires an explanation: People fear the day of judgment because they have sinned and do not know if they will be found innocent or not. Yet why would the ministering angels fear and tremble? After all, they haven’t committed any sins! I would like to explain this by the fact that our Sages have said, “Whoever performs one precept in this world, it precedes him in the World to Come, as it is said: ‘Your righteousness shall go before you’ [Isaiah 58:8]. Whoever commits one transgression in this world, it clings to him and precedes him on the day of judgment, as it is said: ‘The caravans are turned aside from their course. They enter the waste and perish’ [Job 6:18]” (Sotah 3b). The Sages also teach (see Zohar III:83b) that when a man performs a mitzvah in this world, he creates an angel in the World to Come who will defend him in the future, as it is written: “If there will be for someone but a single defending angel out of a thousand to declare a man’s righteousness on his behalf” (Job 33:23). Conversely, if a person commits a sin in this world, he creates an evil angel who will accuse him in the future, on the day of judgment. The Sages also say, “HaSatan has a numerical value of 364, meaning that on 364 days [of the year] he has permission to accuse, but on Yom Kippur he has no permission to accuse” (Yoma 20a). Although the Satan has no permission to accuse on that day, the angels of destruction created by a person’s sins can accuse him on that day. What does the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He places great fear upon these angels, and they are so terrified that they cannot open their mouths to accuse. These are the angels that Rabbi Amnon is referring to in his prayer: “Angels will hasten, trembling and terror will seize them” – all of a sudden, great fear seizes them and they cannot accuse the Jewish people. The ministering angels may say (see Berachot 20b): “Sovereign of the universe, it is written in Your Torah: ‘Who does lift up the countenance and Who does not accept a bribe’ [Devarim 10:17], but it seems that You are favoring Israel, as it is written: ‘Hashem will lift His countenance to you’ [Bamidbar 6:26]! And since You have filled us with the fear of the day of judgment, You are favoring Israel!” He will answer them: How can I not favor Israel? I have written in the Torah, “On the tenth of this month [Tishri] is Yom Kippur. There shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall afflict yourselves” [Vayikra 23:27], and they are careful to eat and drink on the ninth in order to better afflict themselves on the tenth. In fact the nature of this world is that one who eats one day and fast the next has more difficulty than one who fasts for two days. This is because eating on the first day causes his stomach to expand, and he wants to eat more on the following day. Since they do this, I favor them by frightening the angels of destruction, and as a result I am certain that they will completely repent and no longer return to their sins.

This is why the Sages say, “If one eats and drinks on the ninth, Scripture accounts it to him as if he fasted on the ninth and tenth” (Berachot 8b). If a person ate and drank on the ninth, Scripture accounts it to him as if the fast of the tenth was as difficult as fasting for two days, and he receives a double reward. If he only ate and drank a little on the ninth, the fast of the tenth would have been less difficult. Yet since he ate and drank much on the ninth, the fast of the tenth was difficult, and he receives a tremendous reward for it.


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