Parsha Encounters



Parshas Ki Sisa - Parah :

Sins and Stubbonness

Rabbi Moshe Rosenstein

[Don't forget to see the Halacha Encounters below!]

In this week's parsha we find one of the most tragic incidents in our history. Klal Yisroel seems to fall from the greatest heights achieved at the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai to what certainly appears to be the greatest low possible, a form of avodah zarah . The Torah pulls no punches in its description of this sin and in revealing to us Hashem's reaction to it. The Torah seems to indict the entire nation in the sin of worshipping the Golden Calf when it tells us what Hashem said to Moshe, " leich raid, ki shichais amcha , go away and descend [from Har Sinai] for your nation has destroyed" [32:7], then following with, " saru maheir min haderech , they have quickly deviated from the path" [32:8].

HaGaon Rav Simcha Zissel Braude, the Alter of Kelm zt"l , points out a very curious point [ Chochma U'Mussar I, 63 ma'amar Ahavas Tochacha ]. When Hashem is relating to Moshe the sin and the consequences He planned on meting out, He seems to focus on an ostensibly minor point. The Torah repeatedly points out, " ra'isi ha am hazeh v'hinei am kishei oref hu , I have seen this nation and it is a stubborn nation." In fact, it seems from the pesukim that it was this "sin" that would have been the cause of Hashem's destroying the nation, R"L . For the very next pasuk says, " vi'atoh hanicha li vayichar api bahem vi'achaleim , and now leave them to me and my anger will flare against them and I will destroy them." Later as well Hashem says, " emor el Bnei Yisroel atem am kishei oref rega echad e'eleh bikirbecha vikilisicha , tell Israel 'you are a stubborn nation - if I were to go amongst you in an instant you would be destroyed!'" [33:5]. The Alter zt"l is troubled by these verses. True as it may be that stubbornness is a bad trait and that a person must work on being flexible, but it hardly seems to match up against the sin of idol worship that had been committed by Klal Yisroel! Why would Hashem harp on this ostensibly relatively minor character flaw in the face of a much larger issue?

Explains the Alter that in fact the stubbornness was the greater issue. For if someone is not stubborn, he is open to having his flaws pointed out to him. He has the capacity to hear another person critique his behavior and then introspect and see his own wrongs. He then has the chance of doing teshuva. But someone who is stubborn, someone who is completely close-minded to what others have to say, especially when they are speaking about him, he almost certainly will never realize that what he is doing is wrong and therefore has no chance at ever doing teshuva properly. He may as well be "destroyed" - not as a result of the sins he committed but because he is a lost cause. There is nothing that can get him to mend his ways and repent.

This explains Hashem's interaction with Moshe. The Dor HaMidbar, on their level, was an am kishei oref . Hashem was telling Moshe Rabbeinu that sins can be forgiven and mistakes can be mended. But if the nation has the character trait of stubbornness, a trait that manifests itself in the inability to be told that what they are doing is wrong, then Hashem says that they cannot be tolerated to go on. The Alter encourages us all to be able to hear and internalize rebuke and criticism from others - indeed to love it - for it is the only way that a person can be assured that he has the possibility of teshuva open to him.


Rabbi Rosenstein is a full time member of the Kollel.

Halacha Encounters


Some of the times it is or is not appropriate to be recited


Rabbi Ephraim Freidman

It is well known that during the entire month of Nisan we do not recite tachanun at shacharis or mincha. The original source of this practice is found in Meseches Sofrim 21: 2-3. The breissa there explains that the first thirteen days of the month are days of special significance and celebration for it was then that the mizbe'ach (alter) in the mishkan was inaugurated through the offerings of the twelve nesi'im, and that the days of Nisan are destined to once again be days of celebration when the third Bais HaMikdash is erected. (The Bais Yosef O.C. 429 indicates that the mishkan was erected on the first of Nisan, and the nesi'im brought their korbonos on days two through thirteen. Others contend that the korbonos were actually brought on days one through twelve of the month, but that the thirteenth of Nisan has significance for other, possibly related, reasons. See HaGahos Chasam Sofer and Pri M'gadim to Magen Avraham 429: 3.) These thirteen days are followed immediately by Erev Pesach, Pesach, and Isru Chag, all of which are days on which tachanun is likewise not recited. Since the greater part of the month passed without tachanun being recited we continue to omit its recital for the duration of the month. The Shulchan Aruch records this in two places, Orach Chaim 131:7 and 429:2.

With regard to the month of Tishrei, all opinions agree that tachanun is recited on the days between Rosh HaShanah and Erev Yom Kippur, and that it is not recited from Erev Yom Kippur through Isru Chag Succos. (Needless to say it is also not recited on the two days of Rosh HaShanah.) Concerning the last section of the month, from the day after Isru Chag until Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, there is a difference in custom. The Shulchan Aruch O.C. 131:7 seems to indicate that we resume reciting tachanun after Succos, and the Mishna Brura mentions nothing to the contrary. The Aruch HaShulchan O.C. 131:12 mentions a minhag of omitting tachanun until after Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan but he dismisses it. The Chazon Ish, as well recited tachanun during the last days of Tishrei, as related in Orchos Rabeinu Vol I pg.68. Nevertheless, the Magen Avrohom 669 mentions a minhag to omit tachnun until after Rosh Chodesh Cheshven and the Maharsham (Daas Torah O.C. 131:7) elaborates upon this. The Chasam Sofer as well (Choshen Mishpat Teshuva 77) mentions that the minhag in Ashkenaz was not to say tachanun during these days. Amongst the reasons given for this minhag is that the majority o the month tachanun is not recited, making it somewhat similar to the month of Nisan.

During the month of Sivan, immediately following Isru Chag Shavuos there is also a period of a few days when some recite tachanun while others do not. When the Bais HaMikdash is standing, one who is unable to offer his korbon chagigah on Shavuos itself may do so through the twelfth of Sivan. For this reason, in some communities the minhag is to omit tachanun on these days, as mentioned in the Mishna Brurah 131:36. Nonetheless, the Shulchan Aruch itself (O.C. 131:7 and 494:3) indicates that the recital of tachanun should be resumed immediately after Shavuos, and so was the practice of the Chazon Ish, as recorded in Orchos Rabeinu cited above.

At any point during the year, if a choson is present in Shule during the week of his sheva brochos, the entire minyan omits tachanun. In fact, even after the sheva brochos days have technically ended, tachanun is still not recited until seven complete days have passed from the time of the chuppa. For example, if a chuppa is held at 12 noon on a Sunday, although sheva brochos may be recited only through the following Shabbos, tachanun is still omitted on Sunday morning. (M.B. 131:26 See also Aruch Hashulchan 131:17 who disagrees with this point.) If for both choson and kallah it was a second marriage so that sheva brochos are not recited at all except on the wedding day, tachanun is still omitted for three days but not for an entire seven days.

On the wedding day, prior to the chuppa, there is a difference of opinion as to whether or not tachanun should be recited in Shule when the choson-to-be is present. The Mishna Brurah 131:21 mentions both opinions on this issue. The Aruch HaShulchan 131:16 states that tachanun should not be recited that day. In Halichos Shlomo on Tefilla (Chapter 11 D'var Halacha 11) a distinction is drawn between whether the chuppa will be held before sunset, in which case tachanun should not be recited that morning, or after sunset, in which case all, including the choson himself, recite tachanun at shacharis and mincha. The Chazon Ish also paskened that a choson should recite tachanun on his wedding day up until the time he actually goes to the chuppa. (Orchos Rabeinu Vol 3 Pg. 210) Whether the chuppa will be held before or after sunset does not seem to be a factor in his psak.

One final time when the recital of tachanun is somewhat questionable, is after sunset. The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 131:3) says that tachanun should not be recited at night, and for this reason tachanun is never included in tefillas maariv. What, however, is the proper practice in the event that mincha is davened late, so that by the time chazaras hashatz is completed the sun has already set. Is it already considered night so that tachanun should be omitted or not?

Before addressing this question specifically, let us briefly review one related point of background information. It is well known that in between day and night there is a period referred to as bein hashmoshos. The halachic status of this period is one of safeik (doubt): is it day or night? In addition to this safeik, a question exists in the Poskim as to when the period of bein hashmoshos begins. According to the opinion of the Gaonim, bein hashmoshos begins with the setting of the sun and ends 13½ minutes later with nightfall. According to Rabbeinu Tam, bein hashmoshos first begins 58½ minutes after sunset and ends 13½ minutes later (72 minutes after sunset) with nightfall.

Bearing this in mind, let us examine what the Achronim say with regard to tachanun. The Taz (131:8) and Shulchan Aruch HaRav (131:4) both state that there is no objection to reciting tachanun except when it is definitely night. According to these Achronim, if mincha is delayed and proceeds past sunset tachanun should definitely still be recited. The Mishna Brura (131:17) and Aruch HaShulchan (131:11) concur with this, stating that tachanun is recited even during bein hashmoshos, without any mention of a dissenting view. Keeping in mind the two opinions mentioned above as to when bein hashmoshos is, we can safely conclude according to all these sources that tachanun can still be recited at least up to 13½ minutes after sunset, and possibly even later, when the situation arises. The Magen Avrohom (131:9) seems to disagree with this and hold that tachanun should not be recited when mincha runs very late. However, it is not clear if the Magen Avraham is indeed objecting to tachanun being recited bein hashmoshos (as the Eliyahu Rabah 131:8 leans towards explaining) or only when it is definitely night (as the Chaye Odom 33:3 seems to understand). In any case, neither the Mishna Brura nor Aruch HaShulchan make any mention of an opinion to omit tachanun during bein hashmoshos, as stated above. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that the Eliyahu Rabbah suggests that perhaps even according to the Magen Avraham tachanun need not to be omitted, but rather that it should be recited without nefillas apaim - falling on the face. See Pri Megadim Aishel Avrohom 131:9 for explanation.

(NOTE: The above discussion should not be misconstrued as legitimizing davening mincha after sunset by design. In the words of the Mishna Brura (233:14), it is better to daven mincha before sunset without a minyan, than to daven after sunset with a minyan. Nonetheless, if one is delayed and finds himself holding at tachanun after sunset he may refer to what we have written for direction.)


Rabbi Friedman is a full-time member of the Kollel and is a frequent contributor to Halacha Encounters

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