Halacha for Sunday 1 Elul 5779 September 1 2019

The Month of Mercy and Forgiveness

The month of Elul is the month most auspicious for achieving forgiveness and atonement. It is for this reason that we all customarily repent during these days and utilize this time for prayers and supplication before Hashem. Indeed, Sephardic and Middle Eastern Jews customarily recite Selichot beginning from the day following Rosh Chodesh Elul.

It is well-known that during these days we are closer to Hashem and he hears our prayers more quickly than usual, as our Sages have expounded the verse, “Ani Le’Dodi Ve’Dodi Li” (“I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me”) which is an acronym for the word “Elul.” Similarly, the month of Elul is also hinted in the verse, “Uva Le’Zion Go’El Ul’shaveh Fesha Be’Yaakov.” Furthermore, Rabbeinu Yonah writes in his Sefer Ha’Yir’ah: “From the beginning of Elul until the conclusion of Yom Kippur, one should be filled with fear and trepidation over the Day of Judgment.”

In the merit of the repentance during these days, we shall one day be redeemed, as is hinted in the verses composed by King David, “A Psalm by David, Hashem is my light and salvation”: “My light” on Rosh Hashanah “and salvation” on Yom Kippur. King David ends this Psalm by saying, “Were it not that I believe that I should see the goodness of Hashem,” and our Sages explain (Berachot 4b) that King David feared that sins might impede the salvation and thus, the word “Luleh” (“Were it not,” also the same Hebrew letters as “Elul”) is dotted in the scripture in order to allude to the fact that in the merit of our repentance during the month of Elul, we shall be saved on the Day of Judgment.

Hagaon Harav David Amar zt”l writes in his Sefer Tefillah Le’David (Chapter 212) that during the month of Elul and the Ten Days of Repentance (the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), it is especially worthy to recite the blessing of “Hashivenu Avinu Le’Toratecha” (fifth blessing of the Amidah prayer which deals with repentance) with proper concentration and to mention the names of some individuals who have strayed from the proper path of Hashem and His Torah, especially if they are one’s relatives. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l quotes this in his Chazon Ovadia-Yamim Nora’im (page 25). One should certainly pray that one merit repenting fully on his own and continue to ascend higher and higher in spirituality.

Indeed, if we stop and think for a moment, do we not all pray lengthily for our relatives who, G-d-forbid, are not in the best of health or have yet to find their marriage partners and the like? Certainly the pain one feels for an individual who does not follow the path of Hashem is much greater, for such an individual loses his share in the World to Come and misses out on countless merits in the Eternal World; anything a person can experience in this world pales greatly in comparison to life in the World to Come.

We remember that when Maran zt”l’s wife passed away, he would learn and pray a substantial amount in order to elevate her soul. He would mention what the Mekubalim say that one should imagine his deceased relative as though he is standing before him and begging him to save him from a raging inferno. One’s need for merits and good deeds in order to merit entry in the World to Come is infinitely greater than any physical need one may have in this lowly, fleeting world.

The aforementioned Hagaon Harav David Amar quotes in his work the correct text for one who wishes to insert names of relatives in the blessing of “Hashivenu.” After reciting “Hashivenu Avinu Le’Toratecha Ve’Karevenu Malkeinu La’Avodatecha Ve’Hachazirenu Bitshuva Shelema Lefanecha,” one inserts: “May it be Your will, Hashem our G-d and the G-d of our fathers, that You dig a tunnel under Your Holy Throne to accept the repentance of all of the sinners of Israel, and similarly may You cause so-and-so (insert name) son/daughter of so-and-so (insert mother’s name) to repent fully, for Your right hand is outstretched to accept those who are repentant,”  then conclude the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Ha’Rotzeh Bitshuva.” Here is the actual Hebrew text one should recite in the Amida:

יהי רצון מלפניך ה' אלקינו ואלקי אבותינו שתחתור חתירה מתחת כסא כבודך להחזיר בתשובה שלימה לכל פושעי ישראל, וכן תחזיר בתשובה שלימה את פלוני בן פלונית, כי ימינך פשוטה לקבל שבים.

It is correct that when one concludes this blessing upon reciting the name of Hashem one should have in mind that this name of Hashem is punctuated with the “Segol” mark, as is printed in precise Siddurim; one should concentrate on this name but not utter it.

May Hashem return all sinners of Israel to Him through complete repentance and may the land be filled with the knowledge of the Hashem like the waters that fill the sea.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Matanot La’Evyonim

In the previous Halacha we briefly discussed the Mitzvah of “Matanot La’Evyonim” on Purim day which is the distribution of two monetary gifts, one to each pauper. What Must One Give? In order to fulfill this Mitzvah, one need not give actual gifts; rather, it is permissible to ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Mishloach Manot

The Mitzvah of Mishloach Manot The verse in the Megillat Esther (9, 22) states: “In order to mark them as days of feasting and merriment and sending portions (Mishloach Manot) to one another as well as giving gifts to the poor (Matanot La’Evyonim).” The Gemara in Masechet Megillah......

Read Halacha

The “Mechaye Ha’Metim” Blessing

In the previous Halacha we have explained that one who sees a truly dear friend or relative after thirty days f not seeing him and is happy to see him recites the “Shehecheyanu” blessing upon seeing him. The Gemara (Berachot 58b) states: “Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who se......

Read Halacha

Question: When should “Baruch Hu U’Varuch Shemo” be recited?

Answer: Moshe Rabbeinu exclaimed, “When I call upon the name of Hashem, exalt our G-d.” Onkelos translates this verse to mean that Moshe Rabbeinu meant to say that when I mention Hashem’s name in prayer, give praise to Hashem our G-d. Based on this, the Tur (Chapter 124) writes tha......

Read Halacha


Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing Upon Seeing a Dear Friend or Loved One

Question: If one travels overseas, returns home more than thirty days later, and is happy to see his wife or a dear friend when he returns, must one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 58b) states: “Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who sees his frie......

Read Halacha

Question: Must one answer “Baruch Hu U’Varuch Shemo” upon hearing the name of Hashem recited during Kiddush and Havdala?

Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained the primary reason for answering “Baruch Hu U’Varuch Shemo” after hearing Hashem’s name, for this was indeed the custom of the Rosh who would answer “Baruch Hu U’Varuch Shemo” every time he heard Hashem&rsquo......

Read Halacha

Disassembling Doors and Windows on Shabbat

Question: May one remove a door from its hinges or a window from its frame on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that one of the works forbidden on Shabbat is building. However, just as it is forbidden to build something or add anything to a standing edifice on Shabbat, it......

Read Halacha

Giving Birth on Shabbat

Question: If a pregnant woman knows that there is a reasonable chance that she will be giving birth on Shabbat (for instance, if her due date is on Shabbat) and as a result, if she begins experiencing contractions on Shabbat, Shabbat will have to be desecrated on her behalf by travelling to the hosp......

Read Halacha