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Thoughts from R' Blass Part Four

09/27/2011 04:23:58 PM


Have you ever stopped to consider the key phrase of the Yamim Noraim Tefilla - "U'Teshuva, U'Tefilla U'Tzedaka Ma'avirin at Roah HaGezeirah- repentance, prayer and charity remove the evil decree"- and ask yourself which of these don't really belong? We could theoretically understand how teshuva and tefilla are game changers. How the teshuva, as expressed through the prism of tefilla, reflects a statement that the individual in question has transformed himself (at least for a day) into an ish acheir - a different person. But what is the impact of tzeddaka?

    This seminal Tefilla that we say is rooted in the Gemara (Rosh HaShana 16b) that is based on the pasuk in Mishlei (10:2) that says Tzeddaka Tatzil Mimaveis- Tzeddaka saves us from death. Can one imagine such a concept-  a poor soul, a sinner down to his last bone,  is faced with a death sentence from either a magisterial or celestial court and he attempts to pull out his wallet and slip the king a hundred? Why is Tzeddaka so impactful?

    Clearly a person who gives generously (Rabbeinu Saadiah Gaon says that a person who wants to do a full Teshuva needs to change his Tzeddaka patterns) is making a statement of who he is in essence. The process of chait is so often an unstated expression of the notion that 'I will do what I want without real regard for ramifications'. Tzeddaka makes a very clear and definitive declaration to the contrary- it announces that fundamentally my perspective is outward, seeking to leave the world of  impulse and need and move towards elevating and enhancing both my inner world as well as the world at large. That personal statement of priorities apparently sways the heavenly court.

  I had reason to contemplate that Gemara this past Shabbos. Not only did word come in that the Monsey community raised well over a half million dollars for the Reichenberg family (including many thousands from our shul), but the outpouring for Alan Rosenstock and Tomchei Shabbos was such that both he and I were literally almost in tears when we spoke on Motzei Shabbos. Do people in our shul know 99 percent of the recipients of Tomchei Shabbos? No, but what difference does it make- let me stand and be counted with those who are focused on the needs of the world and with the concerns of knesset Yisrael. I simply can't imagine a more beautiful way to enter into Rosh HaShana. A person doesn't have to look far to find despair and dismay in the world- I would prefer to see all of the beauty and greatness and feel confident in the future of our great Nation.


May we continue to give generously, and more importantly, to live generously. In the merit of a life of Tzeddaka we should merit a good year and a yeshua b'karov.

Fri, May 7 2021 25 Iyyar 5781