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The Power of Teshuva and JobKatif

Rav Yoseph Tzvi Rimon Shlit”a
Chief Rabbi of Alon Shvut and Founder and chairman of the board of JobKatif
At the beginning of each Jewish year, we try to improve our character traits and increase our
mitzva observance, but the question arises: isn't this hypocritical? Isn't this dishonest? Aren't
there things that we know, from the beginning, that we will never be able to maintain through-
out the year? Nevertheless, we start the cycle again each Elul and each Rosh Ha-shana!

We may suggest that the justification for this approach is that the High Holy Days are designed to re-
veal our true strengths and abilities; there is no falsehood in trying to realize our potential.

Indeed, the Ba'al Shem Tov cites a parable which expresses this idea and gives us meaningful direction
in the area of teshuva, repentance. The parable tells of a magnificent, sparking palace, which attracts many
people from far away. However, when the travelers approach the palace, they find many walls and many obsta-
cles. Some are dissuaded, but those who press on, scaling the first wall, discover lions, bears, and other fear
some creatures. At this stage, even more abandon their goal and turn around, but a select few continue their
journey, avoiding the predators and climbing the second wall. On the other side, they are shocked to find
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Rav Asher Rav Yossie Goel
Balanson Bloch Jasper
Teshuva: What is a Is There
GOING BACK modern Reason to
TO OUR- Ger be Opti-
SELVES Toshav? mistic?

English speaking sales respresentatives are
available for home visits to give you the best
prices possible. Both Kosher and regular
phones are available.
Call Simcha 052-444-6022
National and Individual Teshuva
Shmuel Sokol Editor-In-Chief

“The source of the moral baseness which continues to darken the
world stems from the lack of recognition regarding the value and wis-
dom of the Land of Israel. Thus the sin of the Spies, who spoke derogatorily about
the pleasant Land, remains uncorrected. To rectify this, the Land’s praise, splen-
dor, holiness, and honor must be declared to all of the world.”
-Rav Kook (Letters, Vol. 1, pgs. 112-113)

Rabbi Kook writes that the rebirth of the Jewish nation in Eretz Yisrael is the foun-
dation for the ultimate t’shuva, both for the nation of Israel, and for the whole
-Rav David Samson and Tzvi Fishman (The Art of T’shuva)

Given the season in which we find ourselves, and the political climate in which we are now
thrust, it behooves us to examine our actions, not just as individuals, but as members of the Jew-
ish nation as a whole. Normally, at least for a Jew is chutz la’aretz, Elul stands for a time of per-
sonal relection and repentance. However, a Jew is Eretz Hakodesh must attach himself to the
larger national conciousness of which he is a part and prepare forthe repentence of the nation. We
have just passed the third anniversary of the expulsion from Gaza, the government is transferring
ownership of Jerusalem’s Russian Compound to the Russians and half of Jerusalem is on the
table. At a time like this, it is impossible for any of us to think that repenting our own personal
problems suffices while so many problems face us as a people. Until we can unite and stand up
for ourselves as Jews -irregardless of political or ideological affiliation-
our teshuva is incomplete.

How can we think that we can remain pure and holy while our
brethren from Gush Katif still remain as jobless refugees? How can we
feel satisfied at the end of this season when
Jews are thrown off their property in Shuafat
in favor of Arab squatters, in gross violation
of court orders, by the Israeli police? How
can we look ourselves in the mirror when the
selfsame police allow Arabs to attack Jewish marchers
in Samaria and the arrest the Jews who defend
themselves? Finally, how can we live with our-
selves when we pray for the rebuilding of the Tem-
ple while Har HaBayit is ignored? There
must be a change!

Wishing you all a happy and peace
ful new year...
For years, I have been accused of wearing
rose-colored glasses concerning Aliyah, Israel and our not even fighting. Today, we are the laughing stock of
incredibly-holy Land. And for the most part, I have the Arab world, and even those around the world who
maintained my innocence, responding to the accusa- love us – and yes, they do exist – are scratching their
tions by stating the irrefutable facts: heads. This is the Israel of Entebbe? This is the Is-
rael of the Iraqi nuclear reactor? This is the Israel of
1. At no time since the days of Ezra and Nehemia has the Six-day War?
the Land of Israel been more welcoming to the Jewish
people; Yes, this is that Israel.
2. It has never been easier for a Jewish person to
move to Eretz Yisrael; These are dark days for the Jews of Israel
3. The Torah is quite clear that it is our obligation to and, as such, for the entire Jewish world. But we are
live here – whether life is easier here or not; still the Jewish people. We are still the nation that has
4. The Torah is also quite clear that, well, HaShem is survived – and thrived – throughout the centuries
not really such a big fan of people who have not-nice against all rational thought. We are the nation that
things to say about our Land; won an un-winnable war in Six Days, and we are the
5. The State of Israel, while not always run by those of nation that rescued the hostages from Entebbe and
purest heart and clearest thinking, is ours, the only we are the nation that bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor.
Jewish country in the entire world.
We are also the nation that bombed Syria’s
But recently it has been tough. Today is a nuclear facility just a few months ago. We are also
day when even I had the thought creep into my mind: the nation that is the only nation to have thousands of
“What the heck is wrong with us?” people immigrate to its shores each year because of
religious and philosophical destiny. We are also the
And when I recently saw the two coffins ap- nation that allows my sons to wear long side-curls and
pear on the television screen in my office, the first yarmulkes without question.
words out of my mouth were, “We are pathetic.”
We are a nation that is far from perfect, but
How else could you explain a country that will then again, our entire history is one lacking perfection,
give up a convicted murderer who has promised to from the biblical episodes of the Golden Calf to the
murder again? How else could you explain a country Sin of the Spies to Moshe hitting the rock to King Saul
that doesn’t even know for sure what it is receiving in trying to kill soon-to-be King David to our Judge Sam-
exchange for that murderer until the public – including son marrying a Philistine woman and to the modern
the families of Eldad Regev, HY”D, and Ehud Gold- days of the Holocaust, and assimilation, and Moshe
wasser, HY”D – see two coffins appear on the televi- Dayan giving the
sion screen? How else can you explain watching the Temple Mount
two coffins sitting there, knowing that in the past Israel keys to the Waqf
has been able to come up with the proverbial rabbit leadership, and
out of the hat, and waiting … waiting … and then, Sharon evicting
nothing. 8,000 Jews from
their homes.
We are pathetic.
But we
In 1994, Nachshon Wachsman, HY”D, was are also a nation
kidnapped and it seemed the whole Jewish world was with a future.
praying for his rescue. Ultimately, the news we re-
ceived was the worst. He had been killed in a failed My wife
rescue attempt. Yes, the news was the worst. Or at and I are raising
least we thought it was … our kids here. We
are raising them
Until today. Today, we really understand what to be proud,
the worst news is. Today, we are feeling the affects of honest, See
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a person is worth something not because of what he
When we talk about T'shuva, our natural re- can produce, but because of what HE IS. The per-
action is to consider preparing long lists of Aveirus son's worth is an internal thing, not an external one.
that we have to do T'shuva about. However, the word Each and every person has a tremendous potential to
T'shuva means to return, not to leave. This must tell become an important person in his own right: He can
us that it is not only a question of leaving our bad be an honest person. A person who helps others. A
deeds, but rather a matter of returning. The question person who davens properly. A person who is at
is, to whom are we return- peace with himself - an inner
ing? R' Yeruchu (from the peace - and at peace with
Mir Yeshiva) writes that we
“This is not a Torah attitude at all: The others. A person has to be
are returning to OUR- Torah says that a person is worth able to connect up with his
SELVES!! something not because of what he can inner self in order to properly
produce, but because of what HE IS.” realize his potential. Unfortu-
Let's try to understand this nately, most of us try to run
a bit. In the secular world, we measure the worth of a away from our inner selves. We are afraid of whom
person based upon what he can produce: What he is we may find if we look too closely, so we ignore our-
worth in the market: If he is capable of producing a lot selves completely. The first step in the T'shuva
he is an important person. If not, he isn't. Once a per- process is for us to return to ourselves: To"find" our-
son is no longer producing, i. e. he has retired, we selves again. To find out who we are and what we
may tolerate him, but he really is no longer consid- want. We must stop running away and start examing
ered as being important. ourselves. Now, in Elul, we must begin to look for that
inner self. We must realize our inner worth. We must
This is not a Torah attitude at all: The Torah says that find who we really are.

In this, our penultimate shiur on the laws of a
ger toshav, a non-Jew who renounces idolatry and argues that the Rambam fails to explain the laws of
settles in Eretz Yisra'el, we turn to the question of: the ger toshav and their relationship to yovel. True,
when? When do these laws apply? When can we ac- the full catalogue of laws relating to a ger toshav, in-
cept a ger toshav, and what happens if we cannot? cluding the requirement to actively support him and
the prohibition to settle him inside a city (see our first
Up to this point, we have spent most of our shiur; the Ra'avad has a different reading of the
time examining the Rambam's approach to this issue. Sifrei), apply only when yovel does, but the principle
However, this leads us into a something of a Catch-22 of allowing "strangers" to reside peacefully among us
when we consider two complementary rulings of the remains eternal.
Rambam. No fewer than four times in Mishneh Torah
(Hilkhot Avodat Kokhavim 6:10, Mila 1:6, Shabbat How do we rule in this dispute? In Shulchan
20:14, Issurei Bia 14:8), the Rambam states, based Arukh, which deals only with contemporary Halakha,
on the Gemara on Arakhin 29a: "We do not accept a we encounter the term "ger toshav" nine times, but
ger toshav except at a time that yovel is observed." the Kesef Mishneh in Hilkhot Avodat Kokhavim (ibid.)
Nevertheless, earlier in the first source, the Rambam argues that the Ra'avad's argument is a logical one,
rules that "even one who dwells temporarily, or one accepted even by the Rambam: even in an era when
traveling from place to place on business, cannot yovel is not observed, what problem could there be
pass through our land until he accepts the seven with settling in Israel a non-Jew who has accepted the
mitzvot which Benei Noach are commanded… this is seven Noahide commandments? He can never cause
a ger toshav." There is no question that we have not us to sin, as he is living an exemplary life. Instead, he
observed the yovel (jubilee) year for some centuries maintains, the Rambam merely means to tell us that
now, if not millennia. If so, there is no way that a non- no Jewish court can formally accept him; however, if a
Jew can become a ger toshav nowadays; conse- non-Jew accepts the Noahide laws on his own, that is
quently, according to the Rambam, no non-Jew can sufficient. According to this, even the Rambam could
even set foot in the Land of Israel! envision a ger toshav today.

Indeed, the Ra'avad contests vociferously the Still, as the Tzitz Eli'ezer (16:60) points out,
ruling against travelers (ibid.): "We have never heard this tack is not particularly convincing. The Ra'avad
or found any such thing! The verse which he brings does not seem to offer a merely pragmatic argument;
refers to the seven [Canaanite] nations; even accord- there are real halakhic ramifications for a ger toshav
ing to his view, the prohibition is dwelling, not passing in non-yovel times, kulot (leniencies) as well as
through." Furthermore, in Hilkhot Issurei Bia (ibid.), he chumrot (stringencies). If so, it may be that See
Page 9

tionwide roadblock.
Thirteen years ago, at the height of the
Rabin-Peres regime, I started “Zo Artzeinu”, together I remember being live on Kol Yisrael radio
with my dear friend Moshe Feiglin. The purpose of this that night. The massive roadblock had already been in
movement was to protest the Olso Accords in a way effect for two hours and the radio interviewer asked
that had not been done before. Up until that point, the that I call it off. “You are endangering lives”, the inter-
demonstrations against Rabin-Peres had been or- viewer said, “call off the roadblock.” I insisted that we
derly, quiet and 100% legal. They had drawn hun- were actually saving lives! “How can that be?” asked
dreds of thousands of protestors yet accomplished the interviewer. “Simple”, I said. “Since no Israeli was
little, if anything at all. Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin able to drive for the last two hours, do you know how
called the protesters “propellers” and paid no attention many lives we just saved?”
to them. Busses continued blowing up, suicide
bombers were everywhere and the land was given Moshe and I organized many more rallies
away to the enemy more and more each day… during that time and the government responded by
charging us with sedition and 11 counts of incitement.
I schlepped my family to dozens of these Even though every one of our protests was completely
demonstrations. We stood in the rain, held signs and non-violent, the Rabin-Peres regime was embar-
heard speeches by eloquent right wing politicians. rassed by the effectiveness and magnitude of these
When the Olso terror-process started we immediately demonstrations. They ordered the police to search our
jumped into the “protest mode” and made these homes at 5:00 in the morning, made sure we were
demonstrations priority #1. Trust me when I say that physically assaulted and “threw the book” at us. Our
there wasn’t an anti-Oslo rally my family didn’t at- trial lasted 18 months which cost us both our jobs and
tend…. but the busses continued blowing up and holy tons of money for legal expenses. In the end, Moshe
Jews were dying by the hour… and I were found innocent of all incitement charges
yet guilty for the sedition charge. Moshe was sen-
In August 1995, Moshe Feiglin and I decided tenced to 16 months in prison and I received 12
that more had to be done. These “nice” rallies were months. We both became convicted felons.
getting us nowhere so we put our heads together and
started a movement called “Zo Artzeinu” (This Is Our After serving our time, mostly via community
Land). The decision made was that we would “up the service, we re-entered the “normal” world. Our life of
ante” a bit by introducing the concept of non-violent crime was behind us and - thanks to the Israeli prison
civil disobedience to the streets of Israel. Our first rally service - we were fully rehabilitated ex-cons. We took
was held 3 days after Tisha B’av – the 12th of Av 5755 a look at what was happening in the Israeli political
(August 8, ’95) – and, Baruch Hashem, it was an out- scene and found out that while the Prime Ministers
standing success. Over 100,000 protestors took to the had changed (several times), the direction the country
streets and blocked 80 intersections across the coun- was headed did not! The “peace” process continued,
try. Hundreds of these protestors were arrested! The land betrayals were being signed with Arafat and
media – generally silent up until this point - covered busses, coffee shops and Pesach seders in Netanya
the event like never before. Even though all protestors were still being blown up…
were completely passive in their resistance and there
was absolutely no violence (something the media usu- That is when we realized that we
ally hates) the event was blanketed by Israeli tv, radio made a big mistake in Zo Artzeinu. Our goal at the
and newspapers. In the next morning’s Yediot news- time was to scream, “kvetch” and protest against
paper, seven of the first nine pages dealt with the na- something and while it worked – in the short term – it
failed miserably in the long term. No changes were
made and no alternatives were offered. All we did
was yell at what was wrong… we didn’t provide the
people of Israel with what was right.

And so, on Rosh Ha’Shanah 5761, Moshe Feiglin
and I decided to correct our mistake – and make
a real difference in Israel. We stopped See
Page 9
I am a sinner and I can't figure out how to genuinely do Teshuva. What do I do?
Shalom My Pupil, in Tel Aviv. I am a good Jewish boy. I don't have fun."
Rambam says that Teshuva (repentance, as if the But are you sure you did not kill? Did you not play on
translation helps - maybe look it up in the dictionary your Sony Playstation this year? It is not by coinci-
instead of asking me everything) is based on vidui - dence that the vidui says "we sinned…we were dis-
confession - of the sin and saying you are "not going honest…" Accept that you were part of the "we" and
to do it again." I don't know about you, but I am not you will start to genuinely regret much more than hon-
that good at lying. As if I am not going to do it again? I oring your parents, you selfish pig (not kosher and
did it this year, after I did it last year, again. In a way, I you probably ate some - like you trust the rabbanut -
kind of like the as if that was
sin. It gives me a shwarma?!? - you
reason to go to “I know many of you are thinking of confessing to are shameful- hope
shul on Yom Kip- your rabbis. However, we are Jewish and rabbis won't this helps). To do
pur. Now I have take confession; not for anything less than 200 genuine Teshuva
to say that I re- shekels. “ voice it out, "I did
gret it and I won't steal. We all stole.
do it again?! Do you honestly think you will be better Please, don’t behead me. Let 10 hours in shul be my
this year at honoring your parents? Do you hear your- punishment. I won’t support the municipality ever
self saying, "I will never talk back to my parents again." That last part is for my parking ticket.
again. They told me I am wasting my life away. Next
time I will sit there and say thank you, because I am I know you are thinking, "Why can’t I confess
an embarrassment. This year, I will make sure that to my rabbi?" That is because we are Jewish and rab-
mom's room at the Geriatric Hostile Home For The bis don't take confession; not for anything less than
Children Impaired has a window- because I love her." 300 shekels. By that time, you won’t have the money
to pay for a window.
I know feeling regret for past sins can be diffi-
cult. That is why I prefer to visualize the punishments David Kilimnick is available for private parties &
as stated in the vidui section of the prayers. If you en- groups and can be seen performing at the Off The
vision yourself severely maimed for your sins, you Wall Comedy Basement, in Jerusalem , every
won’t want to do them again. Slap your chest and Thursday Night at 8:30pm See www.israelcom-
ask: "Am I going to be stoned?" You may be
thinking, "I didn't even do half these sins? I don't live

A Day in the Life, Otherwise Known As
Seventh Heaven in the Seventh Year

ing gazelles, and telling the story of Jacob's dream,
So we recently had this very interesting guest which happened here in holy Beit El. That night, we
over, who was trying to get away from some issues in fed him meat and vegetables from a cauldron we and
the US by finding himself in Israel for a week. our friends/neighbors boiled around a campfire (say it
with me: Poika!), as we talked about issues surround-
When our guest arrived, fresh from the ing the Holy Temple, Jewish interrelations, and build-
Crowne Plaza in Tel Aviv courtesy of an old school Is- ing on the mountain.
raeli cab driver, we pulled a few chairs out of the
house, plopped them down in the road, served up The next day, after a big breakfast of organic eggs that
some steaming joe, and gave our guests a few min- are free-range raised by Avri Ran near Itamar and a
utes to soak up the oxygen-rich, vanilla puddingy deli- big glass of fresh, 7th year-fallow-grapes grape juice
cious air that we so habitually breathe up on our squeezed by Hillel Mann from the vineyards of the Beit
mountaintop every day. They checked out the view, El Winery, we took our increasingly spiritually-inspired
eyed a few twitting sparrows, and sipped their piping guest to buy brand new Tefillin from the world-famous
hot Turkish coffee, with a few fresh figs our friend Beit El Tefillin factory. After an hour tour (FASCINAT-
picked for us from her tree the night before (inciden- ING!), our guest was fitted for his tefillin, bought a
tally, she said I could pick as many as I want for my- mezuzah, was blessed by a Tefillin-making Cohen,
self - yesh!). and sent on his merry way.

After a few minutes and some enthusiasting We dropped him off in next-door Ofra, where he
licking from Pilpel, our driver drove away, Yishai put rented a car to continue his adventures in the north.
the baby in a backpack, unleashed the dog, and took
our guest on a hike all over our mountain while I Now I pose a question: was our guest on the best va-
recorded the Eyshet Chayil Show, assuredly showing cation ever.... or am I?
him the Jewish burial sites, pointing out some frolick-















protesting and started leading. We stopped screaming is headed and start making the right decisions!
from the outside and started making our voices heard
from the inside. How did we do this? We entered the You can continue your protests, if you like. You can
only playing field in this country where decisions are hold signs, bang pots, fax the Prime Minister and
made. We entered the world of Israeli politics. even hunger strike. You can also join one of the new
right wing parties that are sure to spring up, or join the
Yes, politics is a dirty game… and Israeli politics is new-united-right-wing that is being formed after the
even dirtier but if you want to actually accomplish old-united-right-wing-party did nothing (except split
something that is where you must be. I must add one into several non-united-right-wing-parties). Or you can
more important point. Unlike every other “right wing” join the party that leads, the party that decides and
activist up until this point who enters politics by start- the party that sets policy.
ing his/her own political party (as if we don’t have
more than enough already!), Moshe and I entered pol- I urge you to follow Moshe Feiglin and myself into
itics by joining the Likud. It is now almost eight years Likud and become active members. That way, you will
since that decision has been made and we are con- truly make a difference.
vinced – more than ever – that it was the right choice!
Shmuel Sackett is the co-founder of both Zo Artzeinu
My advice to you is since you made aliyah to make a and Manhigut Yehudit. Together with Moshe Feiglin,
difference in this country, you too must join Likud. he is spearheading a campaign to rise to the leader-
That is where the leadership comes from. That is ship of Israel with an ideology based on Jewish iden-
where decisions are made! Up until now, many of tity and values. He has spoken in 500 USA cities and
those decisions have been the wrong ones so it is up universities in the last 5 years. His website is:
to you – and me – to change the direction the country His email is: Shmuel@jew-

caring, Torah-observant Jews. And this Friday night,
when I go around the dinner table and give each of And I will look into each of their eyes and see
the children the three-faceted blessing, I will have an- the holiness – and the potential – that HaShem has
other prayer in mind as well: placed within them and within all Jewish children.

“May HaShem help us to raise you in our And that is why I – and why we – have rea-
Land in a way that you will help the Jewish people to son to be optimistic.
maximize our potential.”

the Rambam's view is as it appears—but we reject it sequences: if we take the explanation of the Kesef
in the final halakhic analysis. This has important con- Mishneh, we would be left saying that the only non-
Jew who could come into Israel—even on a
connecting flight!—is one who has, of his own
accord, accepted all the Noahide laws. It is diffi-
cult to know how we might put this into practice,
to say the least. On the other hand, if we ac-
cept the Ra'avad's positions, the issue of the
Noahide code would only be relevant for grant-
ing permanent residence or citizenship to non-
Jews. However, for tourists and travelers, we
would have no such requirement, as they are
not considered to be "dwelling" in Eretz Yisra'el.

Having defined a modern ger toshav, it re-
mains for us in our final shiur to ask the million-
shekel question: who, in today's world, fits the
the palace which appeared so distant is
creatures that are even more terrifying and an even in truth close to him and the only place
higher wall. The process continues, until one searcher where he belongs.
is left. Defying death on all sides, he makes his way
over the final wall and finds himself at doors of the Three years ago, I saw the depressing reality
palace. Once inside, he sees that all of the walls and of the residents of Gush Katif. I saw the tremendous
predators were hallucinatory, virtual, illusory: he sees problem: for so many of them, there was no work. Ini-
that in truth there had been no walls, lions or bears— tially, it seemed that I had no ability to affect the mat-
just gardens and orchards. ter. I was busy with my community, South Alon
Shevut; I was busy teaching in Yeshivat Har Etzion; I
What does this parable mean? The Ba'al was busy writing books. I had no knowledge of job
Shem Tov is making the point that man is afraid to placement or the like.
change, afraid to repent. Teshuva seems so distant
from him! It is scary, perhaps even dangerous, to try However, I saw that I had no choice. I saw
the wonderful people of Gush Katif withering away.
People who were accustomed to work were suddenly
left with no livelihood.

I thank Hashem that He has allowed me to
discover new abilities; it is He Who gives us the
strength to do things which we think we are not capa-
ble of doing. Thank Hashem we have found jobs for
nine hundred former residents of Gush Katif, we have
helped one hundred and thirty businesses, and we
have assisted many others from Gush Katif. We have
received great help from Heaven, and at the same
time, the volunteers and staff of JobKatif have worked

To our sorrow, we still have seven hundred
to return to Hashem's palace. However, once a per- people unemployed. We thank Hashem that we have
son succeeds in passing over the walls and obsta- the knowledge and will to return them to employment,
cles, he can look back and realize that the palace is but we need you as partners, so that, with Hashem's
where he really belongs. Suddenly he sees that the help, we will be able to give them professional
obstacles which had seemed so great are only "illu- courses, help them open businesses, and give them
sions." Suddenly, he sees that his previous state was assistance so that they will not fail—so that they will
not appropriate for him at all; it is specifically his cur- be able to support their families with dignity.
rent state which is so good, so appropriate, so fitting
for him. With Hashem's help and with true partner-
ship, may we act and succeed.
It may very well be that at the beginning of
the year, a person tries everything; he tries
to fix everything, to improve himself in
everything, to raise himself up in every-
thing. While he is involved in this endeavor,
it may seem nigh impossible and ultimately
futile. However, after a person succeeds in
passing over the walls and the obstacles,
he suddenly sees how his present status is
indeed the only one which can be right for
him. He suddenly sees that the previous
state in which he found himself was not fit-
ting for him at all; on the contrary, it is his
current status which is so good, so fitting,
so appropriate for him; he discovers that

On the scenic hilltops of the Shomron, young
men like Ariel Ben-Shitrit of Yitzhar and Nir Lavi of Har ing winery. Nir's wines beare the label Mount Bless-
Bracha are producing prize wining boutique wines. ing. Named with pride for its location, Har Gerizim,
Their vineyards produce fine Cabernet Sauvignon and the biblical place of the blessing of the Jewish people
Marlo grapes that enjoy the unique natural atmos- on their entry into the land with Yehosuha Bin-Nun (as
phere set by the height (Yitzhar is over 700 meters described in the book of Joshua). Nir is also a tour
above sea level, and Har Bracha towers over 800). guide and is extremely knowledgeable about the his-
tory of the area, including the neighboring Shomroni
Ariel Ben-Shitrit like many in Yitzhar is a stu- (Samaritan) community who hold beliefs and rituals
dent of Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg and studied in the based on ancient Israelite customs. The Shomronim,
Od' Yosef Chai or kutim as they are
yeshiva in nearby described in the
Shechem in his ear- Mishna, were brought
lier years. He runs a here by Sancheriv as
construction com- part of a population ex-
pany to supplement change policy that he
his income and to held for lands that he
build up the reserves conquered. They be-
needed for planting lieve that Har Gerizim
vines and building is the place of the
his own winery. All of Temple, and there they
his farm and work hold ceremonies like
team are Jewish la- the Korban Pesach
borers and he is un- (Paschal Sacrifice).
bending in strict Nir runs a restaurant
observance to the and visitor's center in a
laws of Shemita. He windy wooden cabin
tells a most astonish- between the Jewish
ing account about observing the laws of the Sabbati- town Har Bracha (where he lives with his family) and
cal year. One of the rules of the Shemita is that it the Shomroni neighborhood. Nir takes his guests to
forbidden to prune the branches of the trees and see the Shomronim and Yehoshua's altar on the other
vines, a chore that is considered most important for side of the mountain, and to the Yosef's Gravesit look-
grape producing vines. The grape vine advisors of the out point, where one can almost reach out and touch
ministry of agriculture informed Ariel that if he didn't Joseph's tomb with out entering Shechem.
find a way around this, he could expect a yield of no
grapes this season. In a normal year, his crop is about Both operations set in this scenic and historic
4.5 ton per dunam. Ariel was not worried because he backdrop, and run by such interesting men, are a
quotes the Torah's promise that the observers of the must for anyone visiting the area. If you hadn't
Shemita will see a blessing for their Sabbatical of the planned to tour the Shomron, you should start thinking
land in the Seventh year. Ariel reports that not only did about it now.
his crop not suffer due to the neglect of not being
pruned this year, but, to the contrary, each dunam To visit the wineries or for information on pur-
gives nearly two and half times the amount of grapes chasing their wines, contact Harari Kedem:
that it does in normal circumstances. In Yitzhar, Ariel See Nir Lavi's Grizim tourism
has built and runs the country's only fully approved and agriculture website:
100% organic winery called Harari Kedem, run by ex-
pert wine maker Dr. Elan Abutbul who completed his David Ha'ivri heads the America Desk of The Shom-
education in the field of boutique wines in France. ron International Liaison Office. He lives in Kfar
Tapuach with his wife Mollie and their 7 children,
In neighboring Har Bracha, overlooking the where he also serves as a Youth Director and is a
tomb of Yosef haTzaddik, Nir Lavi has a similar enter- strategic advisor of Shomron Mayor Gershon
prise growing his own grapes and running a prize win Mesika. He can be contacted at

to recite Selichot (penitential prayers) and Tacha-
THE MONTH OF ELUL nunim (supplications), and this, in fact, is the practice
of Sephardic Jewry. According to Ashkenazi tradition,
Elul is the month of repentance. With the end though, the custom is to recite Selichot from about the
of the year fast approaching, the time to make a per- week before Rosh HaShannah. The Shofar, because
sonal accounting has arrived. It is time to cast off all it stirs people to repentance, is blown already from the
those bad habits we have become accustomed to beginning of Elul after each Morning Prayer service.
over the course of the year and to make a new start. After the blowing of the Shofar, Psalm 27 is read by
On Rosh Hashana God sits on His Throne of Justice the congregation. Sephardic Jews are not accus-
and considers all of the actions, words, and thoughts tomed to blowing the Shofar after Morning Prayers;
of the entire year. According to this He dispenses life rather, they blow it during the Selichot. In this manner,
to the entire human race, and determines what sort of all traditions blow the Shofar during the month of Elul.
year it will be - a year of blessing, or, heaven forbid,
the opposite. All of the prayers and acts of repentance AT WHAT POINT DO WE BEGIN RECITING
performed in month of Elul are intended to serve as a SELICHOT?
sort of preventative measure - a "medicine before the
illness." For, so long as a Divine judgment has not yet There are two customs when it comes to
been decreed, one still has the ability to nullify it very reciting Selichot. According to Rabbi Yosef Karo, Jews
easily; yet, after the decree has been established, it is begin reciting Selichot from the second day of Elul.
much more difficult to annul. Therefore, the entire Sephardic Jewry follows this custom. Rabbi Moshe Is-
month of Elul, because it precedes the judgment of serles, the "Rema," writes that the custom of the
Rosh HaShana, is set aside for the purpose of im- Ashkenazi Jews is to begin reciting them from the
provement in Torah and faith, prayer and charity. Such Sunday before Rosh HaShannah, on the condition
preparation allows us to come before God for judg- that there remain at least four days of Selichot before
ment in a state of purity and cleanliness. This results Rosh Hashana. In any case, we begin reciting the
in His blessing us and the entire world with a good Selichot on Sunday, or, more correctly, on Saturday
New Year. night: If there remain more than four days between
Saturday night and Rosh HaShana - for example,
That these days are capable of bringing Di- where Rosh HaShana falls on a Thursday or Sabbath
vine forgiveness and pardon is also evidenced by the - we begin reciting Selichot on the Saturday night
atonement granted the Jewish people after the Sin of closest to Rosh HaShana; but, if there are fewer than
the Golden Calf. For forty days after this transgression four days separating Saturday night and Rosh
Moses and the Jews were rejected by God and their HaShana - for example, where Rosh
prayers went unanswered, yet, when the first of Elul HaShana falls on a Monday or
arrived, God's compassion poured forth and forty Tuesday - then we begin reciting
days of Selichot on the preceding Saturday
don The reason that Ashkenazi Jews recite Seli-
began. This chot for at least four days before Rosh HaShana is
lasted until that there is a custom to observe ten days of fasting
Yom Kip- before Yom Kippur for the purpose of repentance. And
pur, when since during the Ten Days of Repentance between
God said to Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur there are four days
Moses: "I for- on which it is impossible to fast - i.e., the two days of
give according Rosh HaShana, one Sabbath, and Yom Kippur eve on
to your request." which one is obliged to eat - four days are set aside
before Rosh HaShana for fasting. This being the
Therefore, the case, Selichot are recited on these days. And even
Shulchan Arukh writes that though today most people do not actually fast on
from the first of Elul until these ten days, it none the less remains customary
Yom Kippur it is customary to get up early for Selichot for at least ten Next
days - i.e., the four days before Rosh HaShana, and
six days during the Ten Days of Repentance. An addi- rise for Selichot a half-hour before the normal time.
tional reason for this practice is that on Rosh
HaShana a person must "sacrifice himself" before According to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, in a sit-
God, and since we find that sacrifices had to be pre- uation where one has no alternative, it is even possi-
pared and checked for blemishes four days before ble to recite Selichot before midnight. If a community
being offered up, it was decided that Selichot be re- is unable to manage getting up early in the morning
cited four days before Rosh HaShana. In order that for Selichot, its members are permitted, as an emer-
people not become confused, it was established that gence measure, to gather for Selichot at ten o'clock in
the first reading of Selichot take place on Saturday the evening. By arranging Selichot at such an hour,
night. Furthermore, it is only fitting that everybody is able to come, and their
an individual begin to request God's sleep hours remain unaffected. Yet, ac-
mercy from the first day of the week. cording to many Kabbalists and authori-
ties in Jewish law, such practice is
THE TIME FOR SELICHOT completely unacceptable. According to
them, the time for reciting Selichot is
The best time for recit- only after midnight, for this is the
ing Selichot is at "Ashmoret time of Divine mercy. Before mid-
HaBoker" - i.e., the very end of night the world is still infested by
the nighttime. At this time peo- evil thoughts and actions, and
ple are still asleep, and the God's attribute of judgment
world is peaceful and uncont- remains present. Therefore,
aminated by evil thoughts and this is not a fitting time for Seli-
deeds. At this hour prayer is- chot.
sues from the depths of the
heart, shatters all barriers, and is Rabbi Eliezer Melamed is the Dean
received in Heaven. of Yeshiva Har Bracha and a prolific
author on Jewish Law. Rabbi Melamed
Most people, though, find it is one of the most active leaders
difficult to get up at such an early amongst the religious-Zionist public.
hour. The normal time today for wak- Parts of this article were translated ei-
ing up in the morning is six o'clock, and ther from his highly acclaimed series on
Jewish law "Pininei Halacha" or from his
"Ashmoret HaBoker" is about two hours before this.
popular weekly column "Revivim" which appears in
Rising two hours earlier than normal results in drowsi-
the Basheva newspaper. Rabbi Melamed’s books
ness and can effect a person's entire day. Therefore,
"The Laws of Prayer" "The Laws of Passover" and
the accepted practice has become to rise for Selichot "Nation, Land, Army" are presently being translated
about an hour or a half-hour before morning prayers. into English, and are due to be printed, please God,
Though it is no longer dark outside it is still permissi- in the near future.
ble to recite Selichot. Hence, if a person feels that by Other interesting and informative articles by Rabbi
rising early his work will suffer, it is preferable that he Melamed can be viewed at: This ar-
ticle also appears at:

You are the sons of Hashem your God; you shall ing for any dead person to the extreme.
not cut yourselves, nor create baldness between
your eyes for the dead. For you are a holy nation Whether the philosophical underpinning is
to Hashem your God, and Hashem has chosen Hashem's plan, the eternal soul, or our closeness to
you, from all nations on the face of the earth, to Hashem, these three commentators agree that self-
be His own special nation. mutilation over the dead undermines it. However,
(Devarim 14:1-2) Rashi propounds a far more direct reason: "Do not cut
or gash your flesh for the dead the way that the Amor-
In explaining the prohibition of cutting oneself ites do, because you are Hashem's children, and it is
or making oneself bald for the dead, we have found fitting for you to be attractive, not cut and shaved
two main explanations among the commentators. bald." This means that it is appropriate to honor the
The first is based on our faith in Hashem that all is for human body because people were created "be-tzelem
the good, even what we perceive as tragedy. Thus, Elokim," in God's image. The Midrash (Vayikra Rabba
Rav Avraham ibn Ezra writes: 34:3) tells of a fascinating dialogue between Hillel the
Elder and his students:
Once you know that you are Hashem's chil-
dren, and He loves you more than any father, you "Rabbi, where are you going?
have no reason to cut yourselves [in grief] over any- "To do a mitzva."
thing He has done. "Which mitzva is that?"
Whatever He does is for "To bathe in the bathhouse."
the good, even if you do “ If every person must guard his honor "And is this a mitzva?"
not understand. Young as tzelem Elokim, all the more so the "Consider this: there is a
children may not under- Jewish people must guard their honor, worker appointed just to
stand what their father
does, but they rely on
for we are called Hashem's children.” wash and clean the royal
statues set up in every the-
him; so too, you must ater and circus; this custo-
[trust your Heavenly Father], "For you are a holy na- dian not only makes a living, he is honored among the
tion." great men of the empire. Now, I was born in the
Image and Form—as it says, 'For in God's image, He
Similarly, the Ramban explains: made man' (Bereshit 9:6)—all the more so [is wash-
ing my body a mitzva]!"
Since you are a holy nation and Hashem's
treasure, "God does not take away life, but devises If every person must guard his honor as
means, that he who is banished not be an outcast tzelem Elokim, all the more so the Jewish people
from Him" (II Shemu'el 14:14). [Since there is an af- must guard their honor, for we are called Hashem's
terlife,] you have no reason to cut yourself or to make children. Each individual must respect his or her sta-
yourself bald over the dead, even if someone dies tus. Indeed, the Gemara says (Sanhedrin 92b), "A
young. Now, the verse does not forbid crying, for na- person should never compromise his position," even
ture arouses one to cry over the separation of loved in a time of peril; instead, we must learn from
ones and their wandering even in life! From here, our Chananya, Misha'el, and Azarya, who, at the time
rabbis find support to the prohibitions to mourn over- they were thrown into the fiery furnace, remained in
much (Mo'ed Katan 27b). their garments of office (Daniyyel 3:21). Similarly, the
Midrash (Mekhilta Bo 5, et al.) says that the Jews
The Seforno explains this issue in this man- were redeemed from Egypt in the merit of not chang-
ner: ing their names and language; they kept their unique-
ness and quality. This echoes what we have said
It is not appropriate to demonstrate the ex- above: a Jew must never forget his humanity or his
tremity of concern and pain over a dead relative, if office, lest he lose his very identity.
there is another, more honored relative close by and
in a good state; therefore, as you are children of Rabbi Yoel Shwartz is the founder of the Nahal
Hashem, Who is your Father and omnipresent, it is in- Hareidi combat g’dud and RaM at Yeshivat Dvar
appropriate for you to take your concern and mourn- Yerushalayim.
Our Parsha has two passages that teach us of evil.
about a reciprocal relationship (kivyachol) between
the Jewish people and Hashem! The passage says: This is our “Avodath Hashem” on Rosh
‫( את ה' האמרת היום‬26; 17), and it says ‫וה' האמירך היום‬
(26; 18) – you were “maamir” Hashem and Hashem is Hashana the day Hashem created the world. We
“maamir” you. Rashi comments that this form “crown” Hashem as King of the world and therefore
“heemircha” is singular in the Torah! Unkelos trans- “deserve” to be crown by Hashem as the one nation
lates it “chatavt”. Netziv explains that he is referring to on the earth. This is the combination of “Kingship,
the Gemara in Brachos (6) that states that Hashem Memory, Shofar”. We anoint Hashem as King of the
says to the Jewish people: ‘You made me into a sin- world. Hashem remembers the Jewish people as the
gle entity in the world and in return I will make you main perpetuators of Hashem’s Kingship. He than
into a single entity in the world’. blows the Shofar of Mashiach and redeems the Jew-
ish people from their troubles.
Indeed, Rashi explains that this word
“heemarta” means to separate, to rise up. It can coin- Elul is the initials of “I am for my Beloved and
cide with the above. When we raise something above my Beloved is for me”. Hashem is close to us in Elul.
all else we are making it one, as it stands alone com- Elul is the manifestation of the reciprocal relationship
pared to everything else. between Hashem and the Jewish people. This is a
time that we have the
We learn from “Let us grab at these special days to speak ability to get close to
this that the great Hashem. He is close to
praise Hashem is giving and do only positive things. To feel we are us and “waiting” for us. It
the Jewish people is getting close to Hashem. To experience the is indeed a big responsi-
that they have made light of Hashem’s presence in the world.” bility but also a big
Hashem into the only source of joy. This is the
G-d. We do this every day twice when we say the joy of one who has found what he is looking for –
Shma: Hear O Israel Hashem is our G-d Hashem is what his inner self is yearning for. He is yearning for a
one. This is the reason that when we say the Shma relationship with Hashem. We say in the 32nd psalm
before praying in the context of the morning benedic- of Tehilim all the month of Elul that our request is only
tions we say as an introduction “we are lucky, our po- to sit in the house of Hashem all our lives to see the
tion is good, our lot is pleasant. Lucky we are that we “noam” (grace) of Hashem and to visit his temple. The
wake up in the morning, go to sleep at night and say Noam of Hashem is the opening of the prayer “Viyhi
twice a day the Shma. Noam” that we say on Motzei Shabat. When the
grace of Hashem is on us and we feel we are baking
According to this, the great contribution that in his light we also feel joyful and fulfilled and looking
the Jewish people have given to the world is forward to the New Year. Elul is Teshuva and Chesh-
monotheism. Why is this a great contribution? First bon Hanefesh but it is also closeness to Hashem,
and foremost, because it is the truth. Hashem created basking in his grace and visiting his temple.
the world because there is no such thing as being a
King if the King is not recognized by servants. Let us grab at these special days to speak
Hashem wants the world to recognize his oneness as and do only positive things. To feel we are getting
we say in “Aleinu Leshabeach”. However, this mani- close to Hashem. To experience the light of Hashem’s
fests itself also in the way we perceive the conduct of presence in the world.
the world and the way we behave. Hashem being one
created everything and rules everything good or evil. If we will make Hashem one by behaving
He therefore has the authority to demand that people with the knowledge that there is nothing significant
not do evil. However, people that do not accept one other than him, Hashem will make the Jewish people
G-d perceive the world as divided into many different one and call a stop to all our troubles.
departments. These departments include deities re-
sponsible for evil. I may need to serve the deity of evil Rabbi Haim Perlmutter is the author of Tools for
just like I must serve the good! Therefore idol worship Tosafos and Grow with Gemara and the director of
itself is evil because it inevitably promotes the doing the Rinat HaTorah smicha program.