Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, zt”l, offered a parable to understand why we do not say hallel on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. “This can be compared to a king who loves his children very much. Since they are close to the king they grasp his greatness and can sing his praises as is fitting.
After a while, these children left the king’s palace to a distant place. They went on a long and dark journey. Their expensive garments became soiled and torn. Any remnant of good they had taken from the king’s table was lost and they virtually forgot their noble lineage due to the difficult circumstances they were required to endure. After enduring much difficulty and pain, they returned to the gate of their father the king. Obviously they were filled with shame and at first they were certainly unable to praise the king as is fitting. How could they explain why they had left and strayed to such distant places? It was only after the king graciously forgave them and they were able to remove their soiled garments that they began to return to themselves. After spending some time in the presence of the king, partaking of the delicacies of the palace, they could once again praise the king as is fitting.”
Rav Levi Yitzchak explained, “Each year we are just like those princes. When Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur arrive, we feel so ashamed of our sins that we cannot possibly say hallel—fitting praise for the King. It is only after we are completely cleansed from all sins and have prepared for Sukkos that we can once again praise the King eight days as is fitting.”
Daf Yomi Digest
Stories Off the Daf
“The King’s Table
Rema writes that one should attempt to begin reading about something good and finish reading about something good. Mishnah Berurah explains that Rema means that one should begin and end with something good about the Jewish People.
Mishna Berura Yomi Digest
“Beginning and ending an aliyah with something good”
Rema Siman 138, Seif 1
The general custom during the traditional Torah readings on Shabbat, is to begin each Aliyah with something positive about the Jews and to end each aliyah in the same manner. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it is one of the reasons the portions of each aliyah are selected as they are. We can learn a general principle of life from this.
I once heard a high school teacher say that whenever he found it necessary to criticize a student, he would take the student to his office to avoid embarrassing him in front of the class, then he would begin the criticism by giving the student a compliment and, after delivering the “painful” portion of the rebuke, would end by delivering another compliment. In this manner, the student would not feel as if his relationship with the teacher was based solely on the child’s failure, and that there were other qualities of the student that the teacher recognized and admired.
In the Daf for Arachin 10, we see that the children of the King started life very well under his guidance but that life took a turn for the worse when they struck out on their own. Returning to their father, they were ashamed to the point of being unable even to praise the King as was his due. However, the King ended this period of failure in the lives of his children with the same goodness as it had begun, by removing the filth from upon them and returning them to a clean state. How like another parable that was told by the Master.
Our lives all begin in innocence at our birth but as is common with human beings, we turn to serve our own interests and to sin against other people and against God. Even people who are born in religious homes and who are raised by devout parents cannot maintain a life of pure innocence, and the “darkness” of our human natures begins to dampen the goodness of the image in which we were created.
Yet we have a King who is unwilling that we should begin but not end our lives in the same goodness, and like the parable of Rav Levi Yitzchak, all we need to do is return to our Father in humility and with a contrite heart, and He will remove that which is filth from upon our shoulders and clothe us in pure light.
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.
And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. –Zechariah 3:1-7
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, you are very great!
You have donned majesty and splendor
cloaked in light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a curtain. –Psalm 104:1-2