Sign up to TorahFax


Friday, Tishrei 5, 5779 / September 14, 2018


This Shabbat, which is between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, is called, Shabbat Shuva (as we read the Haftorah which begins with the word, “Shuva”). Some call it Shabbat Teshuva (as it is one of the Ten Days of Teshuva-Repentence). The Torah reading this Shabbat is Parshat Vayeilach. It is the smallest Parsha in the entire Torah, consisting of only 30 verses.


Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, begins Tuesday evening (Sept. 18) through Wednesday (Sept. 19).


Q.  During the Yom Kippur services, we recite the "Vidui" - "confession."  For each sin mentioned, we tap/strike our chest, near the heart.  What is the reason for this?


A.   Our sages explain, that sin begins in the heart.  The Torah tells us, "Remember all the Mitzvot of G-d and perform them; and do not turn after your heart and after your eyes after which you stray..." (Numbers 15:39).  Thus, we "strike" the heart which led us to sin.


Q.    The "Vidui - confession" is said in the plural, "We have sinned...We have transgressed..." etc.  Why in the plural, not "I have sinned, I have transgressed..." in the singular?


A.    Our sages explain that as Jews, we are not only responsible for our own deeds, but also for our fellow Jew. If another Jew sinned, we are all partly responsible. We confess and ask forgiveness not only for our sins, but also for others who sinned.


Q.   The Hebrew date for Yom Kippur is the 10th day in the month of Tishrei.  Although the secular date varies from year to year, the Hebrew date is always the same. Why did G-d choose the 10th of Tishrei as the Day of forgiveness?


A.    When the Jewish people sinned by making the Golden Calf, G-d wanted to annihilate the entire nation.  Moshe stood up for his people and pleaded with G-d for forgiveness.  After many prayers, Moshe finally secured G-d's forgiveness for the Jewish people.  It was on the 10th of Tishrei that G-d forgave the Jewish people for the sin of the Golden Calf, and gave Moshe the Second Tablets.  As a result, G-d designated the 10th of Tishrei as the day of forgiveness for all generations.


Q.   Are all sins forgiven on Yom Kippur?


A.  Our sages tell us that only sins committed against G-d are forgiven on Yom Kippur.  Wrongdoings committed against people are forgiven only after first receiving forgiveness from that person, and restitution made, if there was any loss incurred to that person. For this reason it is customary to ask forgiveness from others before Yom Kippur, especially when one knows for sure that they have done something wrong to them.




Montreal candle lighting time: 6:49 / Shabbat ends: 7:50