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Ki Tavo-Emulate G-d -ask for forgiveness!



Emulate G-d -ask for forgiveness!

“The Lord will establish you as His holy people, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your G-d and walk in His ways.” (Devarim 28:9)

The Sefer HaChinuch sees this verse in Parshas Ki Tavo which is always read in the month of Elul as the source for the 611th commandment, to follow in the ways of the Almighty. The Sages explain this commandment as the imperative to imitate the attributes of G-d as depicted in the Torah. The Sifri states, “Just as the Omnipresent One is merciful, so too you should be merciful; just as the Holy One Blessed is He is compassionate, so too you should be compassionate.” We may add that just as Hashem “asks for forgiveness” so must we! But where do we find Hashem “asking for forgiveness”?

In Parshat Pinchas(Bamidbar 28, 15) when talking about Rosh Chodesh –the Torah uses the term ובראשי חדשיכם”the beginnings of your months”. Rosh Chodesh belongs to “you” because it is the Beit Din which sets the date for Rosh Chodesh based on the testimony of the sighting of the new moon.

There is another unique expression used in reference to Rosh Chodesh. The Gemara (9a) notes that regarding the Temple offering (Chatat) of Rosh Chodesh, the Torah (Bamidbar 28, 15) states “LeChatat LaHashem”- a Chatat for Hashem. For the other holidays it just says “LeChatat.” To explain this, the Gemara (9a) states: “Reish Lakish said: Why is the Chatat of Rosh Chodesh different in that regarding it, it says “LaHashem?” Hashem said: may this Chatat be atonement for Me for diminishing the moon.” Therefore, the Torah states that the Chatat of Rosh Chodesh is “for Hashem,” as it comes to, so to speak, to atone for Hashem.

Reish Lakish was referring to what is related in the Gemara (Chulin 60b) that, at first, Hashem created the sun and the moon with equal light. However, the moon approached Hashem and said “can two kings wear the same crown?” In response, Hashem made the moon smaller. The moon was very upset at this, and Hashem tried to appease it in different ways but was unsuccessful. At last, Hashem requested that Am Yisrael bring a sacrifice to atone for making the moon smaller. The Gemara thus tells us that this Chatat is for Hashem who “repents” for His reaction to the moon This idea is remarkable: namely that Hashem requests atonement. The Tosfot Rosh (d”h Se’ir) explains that the Torah is teaching us proper behavior. If a person was forced to punish another person, even though it was justified, he should appease him afterwards. In similar fashion we may say that Hashem teaches us the importance of asking for forgiveness. If Hashem can, so can we. We are commanded: והלכת בדרכיו This is the mitzvah of Imitatio Dei. Whatever Hashem does we have to do.

Very often we have too much pride and find it difficult to admit our wrongs and make repentance for them. If Hashem uses Rosh Chodesh as a time for repentance so, too, must we. Rosh Hashanah is the Rosh Chodesh par excellence and this month of Elul is the appropriate time to be reminded of this message.

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