Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Rabbi Frand's Yom Kippur

Rabbi Yissocher Frand:
At Your Service"

אז תקרא וד' יענה תשוע ויאמר הנני

“Then you will call out and Hashem will answer; you will cry out and He will say ‘Here I am’” (Yeshaya 58:9, Haftorah for Shacharit)

While we may many times wonder how we can have our tefillot answered, on the day of Yom Kippur, we are revealed the secret. The Navi Yeshaya tells us in the Haftorah reading, “אז תקרא וד' יענה תשוע ויאמר הנני – Then you will call out and Hashem will answer; you will cry out and He will say ‘Here I am’” (Yeshaya 58:9).

There are fourteen places in Tanach that the expression “Hineni – Here I am” is used. Thirteen out of the fourteen places are contextually the same with the servant responding to the master, “Here I am; at your service.” Avraham responded to Hashem after he was commanded to bind Yitzchak to the Altar, “Here I am;” Moshe Rabbeinu, as well, used this expression when he encountered Hashem at the Burning Bush. The one exception to the word Hineni expressing the Jewish people’s readiness to serve G-d is in this Pasuk from Yeshaya. This time, the Jews call out to their Master, the Ribono Shel Olam, and He is the One to respond “Hineni – Here I am.”

How did we get the Ribono Shel Olam to respond? What is special about this situation that causes the roles to be reversed?

The Gemara (Yevamot 63a) tells us what this Pasuk is referring to:

והמקרב את קרוביו... עליו הכתוב אומר אז תקרא וד' יענה תשוע ויאמר הנני
One who brings his relatives near, upon him the verse says, “Then you will call out and Hashem will answer; you will cry out and He will say ‘Here I am.’”

What do we have to do to have our prayers answered? What is this Pasuk telling us to do to shake the heavens? Finish Shas in one year? Recite Sefer Tehillim every day? Give millions of dollars to tzedakah? No.

Bring your relatives close. Just be nice to your sister-in-law.

Why is this the secret formula?

The Maharal clues us into the underlying reason: “The Ribono Shel Olam’s relationship with Klal Yisrael is that of a relative.” We are Hashem’s family. And when we act kindly to our family, Hashem says, “I will deal with you measure for measure. If you treat your family nicely, I will treat you nicely.”

Our own family oftentimes presents the greatest of challenges. This is especially true of siblings. Yet, consider for a moment which people we are most closely related to. With whom do we share the most similar and identical DNA? It is not our children or our parents, but our siblings. If you have ever thought of it, the longest-lasting relationship is that of siblings. Our siblings can live with us for sixty, seventy or even eighty years. It is the longest relationship, yet sometimes the most difficult.

Treating our family as they deserve to be treated is the key to having Hashem, our dearest Father in Heaven, say to us, “When you call out, I am at Your service.”

As we enter the holiest day of Yom Kippur and look to make amends and ask forgiveness from our family and friends, we ought to take a moment and ponder how we treat them. Do we show them our appreciation, give them our undivided attention, treat them respectfully and considerately, and love them unconditionally? That is the question we must ask ourselves. If we wish to have our tefillot answered, this is where we need to begin.

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