The Connections Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
Rabbi David Fohrman
Founder and Lead Scholar
In this webinar, Rabbi Fohrman discusses the connections between kol on Rosh Hashanah and forgiveness on Yom Kippur.
Immanuel Shalev: Okay guys, I think we're ready to start, sorry for the late beginning, we had a little bit of a technical difficulty. Let me know guys in the questions section or comment section if you have one, if you can see both me and Rabbi Fohrman or if you can only see me. Rabbi Fohrman is waving - just if you don't know if I'm Rabbi Fohrman or if the other guy is Rabbi Fohrman, if I'm not waving and that's all you see then that means that you cannot see Rabbi Fohrman. Okay, I do not see any - oh great, one person says I can see both, and a couple people say they can't see anyone, that is bad. But if you cannot see, hopefully you can hear okay. But the program is telling me at least that you should be able to see both of us.
So without further ado let's begin. I'd like to introduce you to Rabbi Fohrman. This session - webinars - we started doing them after a bunch of our courses just so that we can sort of talk to you guys about what got left out at the cutting room floor, get that off of our chests. When Rabbi Fohrman and I were putting these courses together and researching them, some really, really great stuff sometimes gets left out. And also obviously to get us prepared for Yom Kippur. A good thing is that the Rosh Hashanah course has a lot to do with Yom Kippur; a story of our lives and who we are before G-d is especially relevant. So without further ado I'm going to let Rabbi Fohrman take it away.
Rabbi Fohrman: Hi folks, nice to see you all and I want to thank [Immu 1:52] here not just for moderating but really for helping put together this course, it was really a joint effort. It was one of those exciting kinds of things that when you're doing it you think you're starting with one thing and it's a journey every bit as much for me as it is for, I think, the viewers. We ended up at a place that we hadn't imagined.
One of things that happened was that, if I recall, I don't remember exactly what this course was precisely going to be originally but I remember that going through the back of my mind was always this issue which is what's the source for this idea that Rosh Hashanah is in fact a day of judgment? And what's the source for this idea that Malchiyot, Zichronot, and Shofrot - these verses of kingship and these verses of remembrance and Shofrot, should all be said on the day? The Gemara just - and the Mishna - seems to take these things for granted, more or less, without putting the usual amount of effort into finding the sources, almost as if they assumed that it was obvious. The Gemara usually doesn't do that. So it kept on gnawing at me why it is that this is taken for granted and it ruined my ability to prepare any other course. Until I finally just said look, why don't we just actually try to figure that out and do a course on this?
So sometimes you sort of have to abandon the best-laid plans of mice and men and kind of come up with something else. So that's what we did in this course.
For me, Immu, and I don't know, I'm interested in asking this question to you, so I'm going to ask you this question and then you can have my response to think about it. But the question I have for you is for you what do you think was the most surprising aspect of this course? How did this course change your way of looking at Rosh Hashanah?
I'm going to answer that for myself and then turn the microphone over to you and let you kind of ruminate on that. But for me one of the things that was most surprising for me was really to see the whole Sinai connection. The notion that Rosh Hashanah was actually Sinai Day is just so counterintuitive, because we normally think of that as Shavuot and here there's this Holiday that seems just like Shavuot. It seems like what it in fact is, is that it's a way of commemorating Sinai but from a different perspective.
Shavuot, the way we normally celebrate it, commemorates the idea of the giving of the Law, so we think about Shavuot as Sinai in terms of now we have the Torah. Rosh Hashanah seems to come along and commemorate the exact same day but from a slightly different perspective. Not so much as now we have the Torah but now we have this encounter with G-d's voice, it's the voice of Sinai Day. Or really, in the words of the Torah, it's the day of Zichron Teruah - it's the day of remembering the Shofar of Sinai. It's just the same thing as Shavuot but from an entirely different way of seeing that, which was really, really - it was surprising to me.
In a moment I'll talk to you a little bit more about that because I think there's a theme here in the Yamim Noraim in general and in Yom Kippur and in Sukkos which sort of continues that idea of Sinai, so I'll talk about it in a minute. But let me just begin by saying that; the notion that Rosh Hashanah is above all Sinai Day or the remembrance of this voice at Sinai, to me was just - was, pardon the expression, revelatory. [Laughs.] So what about you?
Immanuel Shalev: Yeah, so before I answer the question I just wanted to - just one more piece that I forgot to mention for the attendees which is my role tonight in addition to adding sentences and just pointing some stuff out that maybe Rabbi Fohrman might have missed, is basically to interrupt Rabbi Fohrman as much as I possibly can with your questions. So if you have any questions about the course or about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in general, you may get answered. As long as you ask it I will be reading those as we speak and I will sometimes interrupt Rabbi Fohrman and pitch those questions to him, [unclear 6:06].
Rabbi Fohrman: Also by the way I'm going to take this moment to just thank our advertisers here, or welcome our studio audience. We have with us [Robby and Helene Rothenberg 6:19], as well as my Mom. Hi guys, it's nice having you here, right here in the office, you can't see them but we can. So thanks for coming and keeping us company.
Okay, go ahead Immu, what do you say?
Immanuel Shalev: Yeah I mean I basically - I was thinking the same thing about Sinai. Specifically I think that it's good that you said what you said, because when you think when we have Shavuos we already are remembering Sinai, why does Sinai need to come back again on Rosh Hashanah? And specifically the date of Rosh Hashanah it doesn't seem like it should - Rosh Hashanah should have anything to do with Sinai. But I think one of the coolest things that a student of Aleph Beta is sensitive to is that for each Holiday going back to the Torah and to appreciate the fact that it's a serious question, the fact that Yom HaDin is not in the Torah itself. I think that's what really led our journey to kind of search and really be pained by the question of why the Torah does not mention Yom HaDin as Sinai, and it kind of led us to where it did.
But I think that for me one of the most exciting parts of the course is actually the Nechemiah piece. Because okay, Yom Teruah you can make an argument that it has to do with Sinai, but when you look at Nechemiah and it seems to call out to you that all those parallels back to Sinai, that was a really, really fun piece to discover. But even more than that I think that the parallels there and the way they played out. The fact that it's not just oh by the way I'm connecting it to Sinai, but how even though we are in far worse and inferior a version of Sinai, in a manmade version of Sinai, how we still matter. That was, I think, was a really, really powerful message to hear thousands of years later where we're so distant from Sinai, but it's kind of like a promise to us that as long as we show up in Shul and we commemorate Rosh Hashanah in our own way, we still can be part of the Master's plan. That was a really powerful part for me.
Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah, I thought that was a really hopeful piece too and very unexpected to find. But it's so cool, so interesting to think about it in that way, that idea of the Nechemiah piece. That here it is the Bible itself, which means the Torah which is the forum for Sinai, should itself ratify this other much, much weaker replay at Sinai as in fact a Sinai event. It's like the Torah coming out and giving its little stamp of approval and saying, look it's a stupid, little street in two-dimensions, and it's a stupid, little water gate, and it looks like nothing is happening, but this is actually Chorev and this is actually Shamayim. And if you could [only/always 9:01] see what the Master sees, it's a whole different thing.
By the way, one of the things that comes to mind over here in a way is the book - what's it called? I think it's called Flatland. Folks in the audience I ask you if you ever have heard of Flatland you can put your responses on the 'questions', and just see if this rings true for you. But the book basically is an envisioning of what - of a reality of beings who live in two-dimensions. Imagine this two-dimensional being who lives -or it's a whole population of two-dimensional beings. But they live in a plane- they don't live in three-dimensional space, they live in two-dimensional space. Their question is - and then in Flatland the question is how would two-dimensional beings understand when three-dimensional reality intersects with their reality.
So for example, imagine that you live in Flatland and all of a sudden a sphere begins to intersect your world. So what does it look like? It looks like first there's this little dot and then the dot gets bigger and bigger and bigger and then there's a circle and then the circle gets smaller and smaller and smaller. And you have to figure out scientifically what just happened, how come there was this dot that got bigger and bigger and bigger, and a circle that's smaller and smaller and smaller? But you have no way of knowing that a sphere in three-dimensions just went through your world, you just don't have the ability to see that. Only someone who is living in three-dimensions gets to see that.
It was that sort of image that reminded me of like, Nechemiah. Here you are, Nechemiah, and it was literally that idea of two-dimensions as opposed to three-dimensions. For example, think about Chorev, think about the actual mountain. The actual mountain is this huge, imposing, epic mountain called Sinai, which is this big, three-dimensional structure. Now think about their version of Chorev. Their version of Chorev was the scrambled letters of Chorev rearranged into Rechov. So what's a Rechov? A Rechov is this other place, but it's a two-dimensional place. It's this little, manmade street. Well a street lies on a plane as opposed to three-dimensions. Now think about Shamayim. Shamayim is this huge, big heavens and now there's - but there's this little, tiny, sort of two-dimensional version of Shamayim, which is the Sha'ar Ha'mayim.
In both cases it's this intersection. Because if you think about it, remember Nechemiah - the idea of intersection, it's the Rechov that leads up to Sha'ar Ha'mayim. It's like where did this gathering happen? At the cross street of Rechov and Sha'ar Ha'mayim. Well, if you think about it in terms of what was actually happening at Sinai, the same thing was happening just in three-dimensions. Which is that Sinai was also a cross street. It was a cross street between heaven and earth. Instead of Sha'ar Ha'mayim there was Shamayim, that was coming down on the z-axis, so to speak, from heaven and was meeting up with the mountain. It was like G-d says, yeah it's happening again but you can't see it because you're just living in the world. So for you it's just this little mountain now - it's not a mountain it's just - it's the same thing, it's just happening in two dimensions.
You can think about it that - what was happening in a way at Sinai itself might have been a multidimensional thing but it was - but we can only see it in three-dimensions.
So to me that was - I don't know, I just found that very exciting and interesting.
Let me just jump in here and take it to Yom Kippur for a second. Because one of the neat things about that discovery that Rosh Hashanah is Sinai Day is that that discovery seems to have ramifications later on in the Yamim Noraim as well, specifically with Yom Kippur. I just got finished telling you that you can imagine Shavuos as Sinai Day from one perspective - the giving of the law, and Rosh Hashanah as Sinai Day from the perspective of the voice. It turns out, I think, that Yom Kippur, believe it or not, is also Sinai Day but from a different perspective, and it's almost like the same Yom HaDin idea, as Immu was talking about. The interesting things is that we see Rosh Hashanah as a Yom HaDin but the idea of Yom HaDin - judgment day, itself just seems to be a byproduct of the fact that it is Sinai Day and an acceptance of G-d's kingship.
So the idea is that the Rosh Hashanah that we know and love - or that we all know - which is Rosh Hashanah as Yom HaDin, is not in fact the essential Rosh Hashanah. The essential Rosh Hashanah is the replay of Sinai, the listening of G-d's voice, the acceptance of G-d's kingship, which has ramifications or byproducts and there's Din as a byproduct of that, or judgment as a byproduct of that. Almost exactly something like that is happening with Yom Kippur as well.
For example, if I asked you, what's the Yom Kippur we know and love? If we think about the Yom Kippur we know and love, everybody is going to say Yom Kippur is atonement day; that's what we call it, it's the Day of Atonement. But if you actually look back at the Torah it doesn't actually look like the Torah really describes it that way - or it actually does describe it that way but the Torah describes that way as a byproduct.
For example, if you were going to talk about atonement day and you were going to devote 30 sentences to talk about atonement day, so what's the first thing you would say? You would say, boys and girls, all 600,000 people: men, women and children, I have an announcement to make, once a year there's going to be atonement day. This is this amazing thing, you're going to incur all of these sins but don't worry, you're going to have one day when G-d is going to wipe them clean. That would be like the first thing you would say. Then you would say, here is the service in the Temple that is going to be able to annul your sins. Then you would go and you would describe the service in the Temple.
The strange thing is, look how Yom Kippur is in fact announced in Parshat Acharei-Mot. Here's how Acharei-Mot begins. Vayedaber Hashem el Moshe acharei mot shenei bnei Aharon b'karvatam lifnei Hashem vayamutu - and G-d said to Moshe after the death of the two sons of Aaron when they came before G-d and they died. So after that G-d says; Vayomer Hashem el Moshe daber el Aharon achicha - speak to Aharon and tell him; V'al yavoh b'kol eit el hakodesh - you shouldn't [unclear 15:21] always go in to the Holy of Holies; Mi'beit la'parochet - behind the curtain; El pnei ha'kaporet - near the cover over the Ark; Asher al ha'aron v'loh yamut - you shouldn't do that all the time because it's a dangerous thing and he might die. Ki be'anan eira'eh al ha'kaporet - because I am there in a cloud over the cover of the Ark. Rather; B'zot yavoh Aharon el hakodesh - here is the service through which Aharon should come into the Holy of Holies.
Then we have this long service and you know what, it's only at the end of 30 verses that you learn that when do you do this? You do this on Yom Kippur. And at the very end it says; And by the way you get forgiveness when you do this.
It's like that's the worst introduction in the world, like I have no idea what I'm talking about for 30 verses. What? Why are you giving this whole rigmarole, [that this is what 16:08] you should tell Aharon specifically after the death of his two children, this is how he should go into the Kodesh, what are you talking about?
But the answer is that's not how the Torah conceives of Yom Kippur essentially. The idea of forgiveness is really a byproduct of this - what is this? What this is, is an encounter, it's actually the Sinai encounter. Where is G-d? G-d is in a cloud hovering over this cover, hovering over the Aron. Well when else is G-d in a cloud hovering over something? He's in a cloud hovering over Sinai, that's how G-d came down in Sinai. What seems to be happening is that there was an attempt to re-create the Sinai experience in a way that failed and that was the Nadav and Avihu experiment. G-d says, it's important to re-create the experience but you have to re-create it in a way that's successful, and once a year we're going to re-create the experience.
If you look at the climax of the Avodah - and you can pay attention in your Machzor also - when we actually go through the Avodah, the climax of the Avodah is actually the moment - and you see it in the text if you actually read it through - when Aharon takes incense, burning incense, from the incense altar that is a cloud of incense. He takes that burning incense making a cloud and he walks with it with a fire pan into the Holy of Holies. You think, what's in the Holy of Holies? Well where did G-d say He is? He's in a cloud hovering over the Ark. Aharon comes in and takes the cloud of man, so to speak, and it merges with the cloud of G-d, and that's really the moment of contact. In that moment of contact that's when the Sinai experience has really been created, that idea of contacting.
Then at the very end you get this idea of - where is it - of that contact having a byproduct, and the byproduct is that the people become purified. If you think about the idea of purity - and it recalls to me the - I think - the famous saying of - who is it? Lifnei mi atem metaharin u'mi metaher etchem - on Yom Kippur, how is it that you achieve Taharah? We achieve Taharah - we achieve purity, through an encounter with the Creator. It's like that if you are sort of bathed in the presence of the Creator and in that moment you can do Teshuva and let go of your sins, then not only do you let go of your sins but there's kind of like a Mikvah experience. You achieve a kind of purity as a result, and that's sort of the byproduct of this encounter, but what it's really about is encounter.
So in other words, it's almost like Yom Kippur is the experience of encounter with the byproduct of forgiveness and that's the perspective you take on the Sinai experience. Rosh Hashanah is Sinai from the experience of Kol, what it means to listen to the voice of the Almighty and accepting His kingship, and that's the perspective. Shavuot is the same event but from the perspective of - as we at least celebrate - from the perspective of accepting the law and having the Torah, the great gift of Sinai. So it's just interesting to me that we have all these Holidays which again seem to be coming back, in a way, to different perspectives than a single event.
Immanuel Shalev: It's interesting because if you follow the narrative along in the Torah it seems that the narrative in the Torah also echoes that exact process of being close to G-d in the Revelation itself. So let's say you have the encounter with G-d's voice which happens in Sinai, and Kol ha'shofar holech v'chazeik me'od, let's say at Parshas Yisro. But the Torah takes many Parshiyos to tell a story that actually happened very, very close together, and right after the Sinai narratives and the Golden Calf and the second Luchos, that's when they actually built the Mishkan. The very moment that they build the Mishkan that's when the cloud actually comes down onto the Mishkan.
So you have G-d's encounter through His voice up on Sinai, but then G-d's encounter in the midst of the people where the cloud comes down onto the Mishkan itself. And the very next thing that happens right after, which is in Vayikra, I think it's in Perek - I think it's in the ninth chapter. But that's when on the eighth day after the inauguration of the Kohanim that's when the cloud comes down and the very next thing that happens is Nadav and Avihu come and that's when they die. Then right after that is Yom Kippur. So it's kind of like you have G-d's encounter with the voice at Sinai, then G-d when He actually comes down into your midst.
Maybe it seems like the purpose of Yom Kippur is closeness - closeness to G-d.
Rabbi Fohrman: Mhmm hmm, yep, I would agree with that.
There were a couple of other things I [want to 21:06] - and during the balance of time - we're going to stay with you for about an hour altogether here. During the balance of the time of this webinar I thought we'd just kind of get to some of the director's cut issues. Sometimes on DVD you sort of get the director's commentary or the deleted scenes. So we're going to take director's commentary and deleted scenes and kind of put them together.
There were a few - one of the things that was trickiest in actually creating this course was trying to illustrate these storytelling ideas. The idea of G-d as storyteller. I want to actually begin by just talking with you or clarifying one issue that I think I achieved a little bit better clarity of after I recorded the course. One of the downsides of recording a course is that you freeze your understanding of a topic at a certain moment in time, but in fact anyone's understanding of a topic is dynamic and keeps on developing. So here's my new understanding that I achieved after I finished doing this course with Immu.
In the course we talked about this idea of this crisis that Malchiyot creates; the crisis of potential loss of self. That if you're here at this moment and you're encountering the Creator and you're encountering the King, so if you really have an understanding of what that's like, that sort of transcendental encounter with the Creator of all, it's the ultimate awesome experience, so to speak. And awe always comes with a danger and that danger is who am I and what do I matter and my identity is completely lost in the face of G-d.
I think - for example, when G-d constantly tells man or tells Moshe that; Loh yirani ha'odom va'chay - that no one can really experience Me through sight and live through it. What He's really saying is, is that that sort of direct experience with the Creator you can't really live through because it's too [bright/right 23:09] an experience, and human beings aren't really made to withstand that. And the awe is so great that literally there's nothing left of you and you can't come back from that experience.
But that having been said, any experience - the experience of Sinai was an experience in a way fraught with danger of loss of self. So one of the things we talked about in the course was how there's an antidote to that and the antidote comes through what we called Zichronot, the idea of sort of the memory of G-d bringing us into a larger story and giving us an identity within His story.
The one thing which I wanted to add which I didn't get a chance to - which I didn't really, I think, understand as clearly in the course itself, is that there's a very deep connection between this idea of Zichronot - the memory of G-d, so to speak, and Malchiyot, that which precedes it conceptually, the kingship idea. That is, is that, we were talking about kingship in terms of accepting G-d's law. In other words, if G-d is the ruler, if He's the - I'm sorry, not if He's the ruler, if He is the - what does it mean to be king? It means you are in charge and you get to make the rules, you decide right and wrong. And accepting G-d's Torah is saying G-d, You are the rule maker and You get to decide right and wrong.
That's all true, that's true in a legal sense, and if you remember we were going all the way back to Eden and we said that the first time we really heard G-d's voice wasn't at Sinai it was at Eden. We heard that voice of G-d getting louder in Eden and now we hear it again at Sinai. But in Eden we heard it after eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which was a sin that constituted sort of throwing off the yoke of heaven. In a sense where we're saying we're the ones who get to decide right and wrong, we're not allowing G-d to be the decider of that. Then we rectified that when we were willing to accept the Torah and say G-d no, You tell us right and wrong, at Sinai.
All of that is true but I think - here's a beautiful way of seeing it, I believe. That what does it mean to look at G-d or to view G-d as the giver of the Torah? The Torah itself if you think about it is not just a book of laws - even though in Yeshiva we're used to studying it that way, when we think of the Torah we don't think of anything but Taryag Mitzvos and we learn Gemara and we study laws. But you know the dark side - the dark, little secret is that even Gemara isn't just laws, there's Aggadata - there's stories in Gemara, and even Torah Shebichtav - the written Torah, is not just laws, half of it is stories. We don't always study those, but the stories are there. G-d is not just the lawgiver but He's also the storyteller.
So maybe what it means to say that we accept G-d as the giver of the Torah is that we accept G-d as the ultimate lawgiver and we accept G-d as the ultimate storyteller. And when I say ultimate, let's think of that in terms of, again, good and evil. When I say that G-d is the Master or the Creator and that He's the one who gets to decide Tov and Ra'ah, so that means something in a legal context and it means something in a storytelling context.
In a legal context what it means is that you get to make the rules. You get to decide what's good and what's wrong and decide rules based upon that, and we follow that. But there's also a connotation of that in terms of stories. What does Tov and Ra'ah mean in terms of a story? We talked about in the course how a zillion things happen to you during the day and you don't remember any of that. Like 938 things happened to you yesterday, how many of those things do you remember? Do you remember every step you took on the way to the bathroom? You don't. You have no idea what the - so your brain filters out the unimportant stuff and you remember 25 things from yesterday and by next week you'll remember two things from yesterday. Your brain automatically says here's what's important, here's what is not important. That is your brain working as something that assigns value. You have to assign value to experiences in order to remember them.
When we talk about - and that's what allows you to tell the story. So you tell a story of your day, which is how you connect these events through your judgment of what's valuable and what's not valuable in terms of what you did during that day.
When we say G-d is the ultimate storyteller or the knower of good and evil in terms of stories, it means He's the one that assigns value and it may be very different than our assigning of value. He may have a different view of what was important during our day and what was less important. Either because He looks at our own limited story differently, which is true, and also because He looks at the macro story of all these stories together and what was significant - [saw 27:48] what we did here, as opposed to how it is - in terms of how it relates to the macro, grand story of all the different pieces of creation that He's orchestrating.
So to me, I think that was satisfying to see that notion of G-d as storyteller emerges from acceptance of G-d as King. [It's just as 28:10] acceptance of G-d as King has a ramification in terms of accepting the Torah, or accepting the legal parts of the Torah and saying you are the boss - that's one thing to accept G-d as King. But it's also to accept G-d as storyteller if we accept the Torah, which leads to that which allows us to be significant. We're significant in G-d's story because we may die and our memories may fade but there's an ultimate memory that gives a lasting quality to what it is that we do here in the world.
Just throwing that your way. I wanted to kind of pitch that to you.
Immanuel Shalev: Before we move to the next director's cut, do you want to - we haven't gotten a whole lot of questions today, do you want to ask the audience anything?
Rabbi Fohrman: Hey audience. Well I'll let you guys post any question if you like while I talk. I'll challenge you to come up with any questions that we can answer in our remaining time together. But in the meantime Immu let me put out to you, in your mind, of all the things that we could have put into this course, what's the one that hurts you most that didn't actually make it in?
Immanuel Shalev: I think that - so I once - I asked you specifically why is Kol such a big deal? Like why didn't the Torah say Yom Zichron Sinai, why does it say Yom Zichron Teruah? That question we did put in the course, we made our best effort at explaining why G-d reveals Himself through Kol. That was the argument we made that Kol was the essential way that G-d reveals Himself. But I actually got the benefit of you proving that to me a whole lot better and more in-depth in two ways. Once in the actual exodus narrative itself but another one, which is actually super cool, that I had never seen before, in Devarim. Where you - you know this better than I do [laughs].
Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah, well all right, I'll fill everybody in on what Immu is talking about. Immu was kind of skeptical about this Kol idea where we were talking about G-d's voice as being the most essential way that G-d can reveal Himself to us. The - and I think in the course we talked about it, I don't know exactly what we said in the course anymore, but I seem to have some recollection that we talked about it in these terms. That if you think of G-d as the great extraterrestrial being as what G-d is, He comes from out of our world, He's the creator of the world, so He's outside of it. So if you think about that, the notion that the extraterrestrial source of all can even talk with or relate to terrestrial beings, is itself something you can't take for granted.
In other words, if you think about any extraterrestrial beings, one of the mistakes that we always make about them - if you think about science fiction, think about science fiction books or science fiction movies that try to envision what an encounter between humans and extraterrestrials would look like. So they're sort of dumb, not well-thought-out, science fiction books and then more well-thought-out science fiction books.
So one of the sort of dumb ways of thinking about it is - I remember way back when there was a film that was a blockbuster film called Independence Day. Where the bad extraterrestrials came out of the sky and they were fighting the earthlings. So in the end how did the good guys win? The good guys win when they figure out a way to upload a computer virus into the aliens' computer. Now why is that such a stupid movie? It's a stupid movie because who says the aliens' computer is IBM compatible? In other words, why is your computer virus going to mean anything to an alien computer?
Immanuel Shalev: Don't ruin that movie for me, I love that movie.
Rabbi Fohrman: It was a great movie except for that. The idea is yeah, of course, extraterrestrials they probably speak English, yeah, maybe their eyes are a little bit set farther apart than ours, maybe they're - but of course, they're carbon-based life beings just like us. But the real truth is if there were extraterrestrials who said that we would even be able to communicate with them? They don't know English, they don't - and who says - if you think about it, our senses: taste, sight, smell, touch, sound, sight, all of these things are adapted specifically to help us interact with the world. But an extraterrestrial being like G-d is beyond the world, so who says any of your senses are going to be useful? That's really the problem with interactions. So basically what's happening is G-d saying look, all of these senses are basically kind of useless.
And I think that Immu when you and I were preparing the course - I don't remember this made it into our final cut, I don't think it did. But remember that - when I asked you, I said, if G-d came to you in a dream and said Immu, I will reveal Myself to you using one of your senses. Pick a sense, any sense. Which would it be? You said it would be sight, because that's how I encounter something most directly…
Immanuel Shalev: Yes it's in the course - I remember the animation where you go like this…
Rabbi Fohrman: In our thing?
Immanuel Shalev: Yeah.
Rabbi Fohrman: Did this actually make it into the film? I don't remember.
Immanuel Shalev: Yeah it did.
Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah it did? Okay. So I really don't - but the idea is it's like no, sight isn't there. My example was this, I said imagine that you pay all this money for a cruise and the cruise is going to take you out to the Caribbean to see this great eclipse of the sun and you get there and it's a cloudy day. So it's like you are really upset because sight is the way we human beings encounter something most directly. G-d specifically closes down sight - and this what Immu was talking about before with Parshat Va'etchanan. If you look 40 years after the Revelation narrative, if you go back in Devarim to how Moshe reminisces with the people about that narrative, Moshe makes a big deal about Kol - about voice, at Sinai, and about the inability to see. Really his whole retelling of the story is told from that perspective.
V'atah Yisrael - he says - and I can't go through all of this now, we don't have the time. But for those of you who want some good Yom Kippur reading or pre Yom Kippur reading, just go through Parshat Va'etchanan, you can look at the end of Perek Gimmel, beginning of Perek Daled - Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 at the beginning of Deuteronomy. And just read through it and keep track of how sight and sound are used in this narrative. You see that what happens is that G-d completely shuts down sight when it comes to Sinai and only interacts with people through sound. So Moshe says things like; V'atah Yisrael - and now because of all of this; Shema el ha'chukim v'el ha'mishpatim - listen to all of these commands, listen.
By the way, the culmination of all of this is going to be Shema itself. You ever wonder - I mean, I asked this to our Sephardi Minyan in Shul. I said, think about the basic credo of Jewish faith, it's six words; Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad - here o Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is one. So I would think that only four out of those words are really crucial. Like why isn't our basic credo of faith; Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad - the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is one? Imagine G-d-forbid somebody who has been pulled out and heading for martyrdom and he realizes he's going to die but only gets through two words; Shema Yisrael, and can't get up to Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad. It's such a tragedy because he didn't get up to that. Why not start the great declaration of faith from where it really counts? Why bother with the two-word preamble unless the preamble is part of what it means to be a monotheist?
To be a monotheist it means to hear, to listen. Our ability to listen is fundamental to monotheism. It's how we encounter G-d. We didn't encounter G-d with our ability to see, we encountered G-d through our ability to hear.
What Moshe will say over and over again - it says - he will say; Pen tishkach - lest you forget; Et ha'devarim asher ra'u einecha - the things that your eyes saw at Sinai. But what did you see at Sinai? Yom asher amadeta lifnei Hashem Elokecha b'Chorev - the day that you stood before G-d in Chorev, when G-d said bring everyone together; V'ashmi'em et devarai - and I will make heard My words. Va'tikrevun va'ta'amdun tachat ha'har - and you sat there and you gathered together beneath the mountain. The mountain was burning until the heart of heavens, but it was Choshech - it was dark. Anan - it was a thick cloud. Arafel - it was fog. You couldn't see anything.
Then; Vayedaber Hashem aleichem mitoch ha'aish - that G-d spoke to you. When G-d spoke to you; Kol devarim atem shomim - you heard the voice of words; U'temunah einchem ro'im - but you didn't see anything; Zulati kol - all you heard was voice. Then he says; V'nishmartem me'od le'nafshoteichem - be very careful; Ki loh re'item kol temunah - because remember you didn't see anything; Pen tashchitun - lest generations later you corrupt yourselves; Va'asitem lachem pessel temunat kol - and you makes for yourselves something you can see.
Here you get to the roots of idolatry. Where does idolatry come from? Idolatry comes from human beings being sensory creatures that interact with their senses and they like seeing things with their eyes and touching things with their hands. Now - and whenever I relate to anyone: my kids, my wife, anyone, I can see them and I can give them a hug. Now I'm called upon to relate to G-d someone I can't give a hug and someone I can't see, and; Pen tashchitun - and lest you corrupt yourselves; Va'asitem lachem pessel temunat kol - and you make yourself something you can touch or something you can see. That's the beginning of idolatry and it's nothing more than the human propensity to want to be able to encounter through your senses the being who you relate to. But unfortunately, it just doesn't work with G-d.
Immanuel Shalev: Yep, no, I love that. I do want to jump in with actually some comments from our [unclear 38:13] we did get a bunch of people who commented the same thing while we were talking about favorites part of the course. A bunch of people said something very, very similar, and I'm going to read this comment from [Rachel]. What she said she loved the most was - 'what touched me the most was the description of the Shofar as G-d's voice breaking through and communicating with us. And that we were all there and we just need to remember it. I have never experienced Shofar blowing the way I did this past Rosh Hashanah, it was extremely emotional'.
The truth is I had the same feeling, a bunch of other people ended up saying the same thing as well, which is I really also I struggled every year with how to connect to the Tekiyos and different people have different answers for what it was. But this year it felt the most compelling that in some sense we're simulating the voice of G-d. And I wonder what about that is so compelling and means something to people and is emotional?
Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah, I mean to me also I kind of felt that way - I mean, if I had to put my finger on it, on why that's meaningful to me personally, it gets back to that idea of voice beyond words in every type of communication. When we communicate, our words carry the thoughts and the cognitive part of our communication, and I think our voice carries the emotional part of our communication. So if all you could do is read a transcript of what someone says, it's like - hah, you know I'm going to come up with a theory, an interesting theory, that's related to this, and I'll tell you what I mean here.
Immu, one of the things that you I struggle with here - just to elaborate this idea - is one of the things we think about a lot is could we make books out of our courses? So - but we look at our transcripts and somehow, as good as the courses look like, when you read the transcript it's like ech, who wants to read the transcript, it doesn't feel good. It's like you have to take the transcript and you have to rewrite it as the written word instead of the spoken word.
But - [and it looks like so amorphous 40:21] why there is such a difference between the written word and the spoken word. Why is that? How come - it sounded fine when you said it, so why can't you just read what you said? How come it doesn't sound fine anymore? It has to be virtually rewritten now, this book, what is the art of rewriting the spoken word for the written word? Maybe this is the answer.
The answer is this. Any type of communication is really an amalgam of two communications at once. There's cognitive communication going on and there's emotional communication going on. Now when you're speaking it's like a stereo system, it's like a dual-track communication, and what's happening is that your words carry the thoughts - the cognitive stuff, and your voice carries your emotion. So you can rely on your voice for all of the emotional content and your words just have to carry the thoughts. When someone listens to you they get the full picture of what you're saying emotionally and cognitively because they're actually listening to you.
But then if you [strip off 41:27] a voice and all you read is the words of that, it sounds dry because it's totally cognitive, because your words didn't have to work so hard, because your words didn't have to do any of the work of conveying the emotion. When you rewrite it for written form, the written form takes into account the fact that all I've got is words, so the words have to do double duty. Not only do the words have to give you thoughts, but the words have to be written in such a way that they convey emotions as well.
That's what you do when you rewrite things [and that there's some 41:57] artistry in the words themselves, because you can't count on the inflexion of someone's voice to convey what it is that they really mean to say. Which is why it's so much - yeah the words do more work, it's a more arduous process because the words have to work so much harder to figure out the right words that are going to do both of those. It's just easier when you talk, you don't have to worry so much about the words because they're just going to process the thoughts.
So I think, getting back to Shofar, to me that's what is so emotional about Shofar, which is that if you had wanted - like if you imagine G-d as the lawgiver so think about what G-d's priorities are at Sinai? So if you take some of the Shavuos perspectives and say G-d's priority is He needs to give you some laws. So it's like, let's cut to the chase and get to the Ten Commandments already. The Ten Commandments are what Sinai is about. But what this course says is no, even before that there was a revelation. The essential revelation happened before the giving of the Ten Commandments. That's when thoughts got layered on top of voice. But before thoughts got layered on top of voice G-d says it's really important for Me to communicate to you. And before I tell you who I am cognitively with the introductory words of the Aseret HaDibrot which are; Onochi Hashem Elokecha, I need to tell you who I am emotionally. It's just basically - you just have to hear My voice and through your experience understand who I am. And it's going to be the same thing, but it's just the emotion, it's just the direct experience before voice kind of intrudes and makes it cognitive.
That notion that sort of G-d will understand that about human beings, that the part of communication between us that makes communication - verbal communication - so comforting, is really hearing another person's voice and listening to the timber of their voice and listening to who they really are. Feeling that I can trust them or feeling that I know them, or feeling that they're my friend. And all of those things that voice does for us other than give us thoughts, that G-d knew that about His creatures and said, and therefore I really just need you to listen to My voice before we do anything and that's how you can trust who I am and know that I'm here and accept Me as being here. To me there's something very resonant with that idea and it just means a lot, that G-d would care to do that, if you know what I mean?
Immanuel Shalev: Yeah, I think also there's just this level of your whole life you want to hear back from G-d. I don't know if it's sacrilegious - it doesn't feel sacrilegious but to some extent like the fact that you're able to simulate the Kol to some extent and at least remember with some part of you that you were there or that you heard this at one point. That really did it for me, the fact that you can kind of - your whole life you're waiting to hear that Kol and here on Rosh Hashanah you're supposed to remember that and go back.
Rabbi Fohrman: Yes, that notion that there is something like a collective unconscious that we all have and there's something familiar about that voice that resonates with us still. Yep, that's also really neat.
Immanuel Shalev: Can I ask you a question out of leftfield, something we didn't prepare for?
Rabbi Fohrman: Sure.
Immanuel Shalev: We'll see how you do [laughs] - you can pass if you want to. But I'm going to ask a question I think many of us…
Rabbi Fohrman: [Unclear 45:25] back to you [laughs], go ahead.
Immanuel Shalev: Yeah, exactly. But many of us are here I think - basically it's Erev Yom Kippur and so the question I would ask is what - is there a personal Avodah that we - that you think we probably should make sure to go through or to do on the day of Yom Kippur? What should we be focusing on? Anything we should be paying attention to that you think is essential to do for Yom Kippur?
Rabbi Fohrman: Oh gee, that's a loaded question [laughs]. What should we be focusing on in advance of Yom Kippur? Okay I'll say this. If you look at our course on Yom Kippur on Aleph Beta - or at least our Teshuva course - the main takeaway of the - it wouldn't be called the Teshuva course, Immu do you remember what it was called?
Immanuel Shalev: It has the word Teshuva in it. Is There a Right Way to do Teshuva?
Rabbi Fohrman: Is There a Right Way to do Teshuva? First of all if you want to look at something between now and Yom Kippur, look at that, great course. Another way of thinking about that course is the five most important minutes of Yom Kippur. The five most important minutes of Yom Kippur according to that course is really the Vidui. That you can strip everything else away and what Vidui is all about is about confessing or acknowledging your sins. It's about being able to verbalize what it is that you've done, your shortcomings, between you and G-d, put that out there. And with that there's something magical about that, it's really an apology. Our apology is a recognition, is when you strip it all away, is being able to recognize that you committed a wrong to someone, [that you've wronged 47:15.] There's something magical about that because when an apology is verbalized and accepted it has that ability to kind of rebalance a relationship.
We talk in the course about the Rambam analogizing the Vidui process or the process of confession or apology to maybe the most magical transformative thing within Judaism, which is the way a Mikvah works. The Mikvah can transform someone much in the way that apology is transformative. And the Rambam says this is really what THE Mitzvah of Teshuva is all about.
An interesting question to wonder about is - which I was thinking about today kind of preparing for Yom Kippur a little bit - is why is it so difficult to apologize? Really apologizing is not easy and most of us sometimes when we try to apologize hedge our bets. So there's all sorts of ways that you can [hedge 48:09] apologies. There's like, Robby, if I've done anything to offend you over the past year I hope you'll forgive me. It sounds like an apology, what was that 'if' doing there? It's like conditional. I'm not actually saying I did anything to offend you but if you're such a zealot that you would take offense to anything I've done, so if I did anything - I'm sort of like putting it on you and I take the moral onus off of myself. It's not easy to just apologize and say, look I think I've wronged you and I hope you'll forgive me for that. That's - it's such a hard thing to do.
But why is it that when we know that we've wronged someone we don't do that and we kind of avoid it?
The [thing that 48:50] propelled me into this is actually watching a video of a press conference with Donald Trump who is famous for never apologizing. I mean he could do anything in the world and he just won't apologize. So there was a fellow who was - I forgot who it was, it was Jimmy Kimmel [or someone who 49:03] was interviewing him, so it was a very funny interview. It [basically] went like this. Jimmy Kimmel said, so it's really interesting to see Mr. Trump how it is that you conduct yourself on the rope lines and things, you're just so spontaneous. You just don't speak with notes and you just talk - how do you do that? Trump is very happy to get that question so he's talking about how - he says yes, a thing of beauty, when you can just get out there and just - instead of just having your teleprompters like all the other politicians you're spontaneous and you just say what comes to mind. When it works and it clicks and you connect with the audience in a very deep way and it's just the most magical thing in the world.
So the next thing that happens is Jimmy Kimmel throws this question to him, which apparently is a question which the two of them have not rehearsed. What you see is, is that they've rehearsed this entire interview, Trump knows every single question that's coming to him. So here he is talking about his great spontaneity but this whole interview has been completely rehearsed, there's nothing spontaneous in it.
Now, Jimmy Kimmel throws him this question that they haven't prepared for and the question is about apologies. He says, so I notice you don't apologize very often and I'm just sort of curious as to why that's true. He says, it's like - can you recall a time in your life, any time in your life, that you've actually ever apologized for anything? Have you ever apologized? Was there a time when little 'Donnie Trump' when he's five or six years old, did he ever apologize? Have you ever apologized for anything in your life? Tell me one moment in time that you remember apologizing.
Trump is like - he's completely flustered and he says, you know, we didn't prepare for that. Like that wasn't in our list of questions. It's like you gave me this whole list and we didn't prepare for that. So Kimmel comes back to him and says, well you were just talking about how it's the best when you're spontaneous, I figured we'd throw something spontaneous in, so here's my spontaneous question for you. So now you have to deal with the question. He laid the perfect trap.
The truth is he can't come up with any time that he has apologized. He just cannot come up with any time. And then he says something astounding. He says, you know in order to apologize you actually have to be wrong first. So Jimmy Kimmel comes back and says, are you saying you've never been wrong? He says, well yeah, you actually have to be wrong first. And it's like, look I do look forward to apologizing at some point in the future if I ever actually do something wrong. And it's like - [and Kimmel 51:32] says, can you say with a straight face that you've never actually done anything wrong? Basically this is what Trump is saying, he's saying I've never really done anything wrong and therefore I can't really apologize.
So what is it that makes it so difficult? If you think about Donald Trump as the caricature of the guy who can never apologize, and it's just so toxic to him, there's a little bit of that in all of us in that part of us that avoids apologies. What part of us is that?
So Immu since you've put me on the spot in this unscripted way, before I go further let me ask you what you think? Why do you think it is that people find it so hard to apologize? What is it that they're afraid of? Why is that such a difficult thing? And you know it's difficult - it's difficult for everybody; it's difficult for you, it's difficult for me, in the Aleph Beta office it's difficult, anybody you meet it's difficult, it's difficult with your wife, it's difficult with your kids, it's so hard to do.
Immanuel Shalev: I think that if you know me at all, I would go - I'd rush back to the tree of knowledge, it's just classic tree of knowledge for me. Where you don't - it's not that it's difficult to apologize as much as it is to really see that you're wrong. Or me at least, I can fall into the tree of knowledge trap pretty easily. Like when someone tells me I do something wrong my first gut instinct isn't to analyze wow, maybe they're right, it's to explain how they do not have the proper context, they do not see the world in the right Tovs and Ra'ahs the way I do, and let me just explain it to them.
Sometimes - and this is a little embarrassing to admit - but even with G-d sometimes I don't want to apologize to Him. Because I feel like well He knows me really well, so He knows exactly where my Bechira point lies and if I didn't succeed on that and - He'll understand; which I guess is pretty bad.
Rabbi Fohrman: Okay I hear. So you can say yes, it's a tree of knowledge issue in terms of - like Trump, like maybe there's a little part in all of us that never really is absolutely convinced that we were wrong. I've been misunderstood. Sure there's two ways to see things. But the notion that I was actually wrong, may be hard for us to accept. Maybe there's a part of us that still says well, you have to actually be wrong before you can apologize. So that could be it.
Let me offer another possibility. I think that even when you know you're wrong it's hard to apologize. Even when in your heart of hearts if you had to write out on a little thing and you can say I, Immu know I'm wrong. As long as [I can 54:08] keep that to myself that's one thing, but to actually have to say it to anybody else, someone that I've offended, especially if that someone is important to me - I'd say especially if someone is important to me. If they're not important to me I believe apologies are easier. So in other words, if I knock over a stranger in the street everyone can apologize there. But if I hurt someone who is close to me that's really tough. Why?
I think it's tough because we're afraid - think about what an apology is. There's something ironic about an apology. An apology is a recognition of wrong. I actually come forward and I say, I was actually wrong. That means I really actually hurt you. That's a terribly scary and threatening thing to do in a relationship. Say I've an important relationship with you, I was wrong, I did something, I knew I was wrong, and I actually hurt you, I was negligent, I did something bad. It's like - we're talking about very uncomfortable things right now. What's my fear at that moment?
My fear, I believe, is that maybe our relationship isn't going to recover from that. So that's my fear. This relationship is so important to me and if I reveal the extent of my failure how do I know that the other person is ever going to love me as much? How do I know that I'm ever going to get back? So it's much more convenient if I have that problem to simply shove them under the rug, at least I can keep our relationship at status quo, I know what our relationship is and I can deal with that. Rather than risk the loss of everything.
Because the ironic thing with an apology is that in an apology you're recognizing this terrible thing. But the irony is, is that if you can just recognize it and express regret for it and express a willingness to change, what you're really recognizing about yourself - and this is the subtle point - is not just that you have done this wrong, but you're also recognizing that you're a person in transition. That you're transitioning from having done this wrong to wanting to be somewhere else and you're on a path. And maybe it's even scary to be on a path because I'm not like made, I'm not like here, I'm actually in transition and it's a kind of nervous thing for me to say I'm in transition too. So there's a lot of these risks that I take.
So the question is, I think, a question that I would put out as a challenge to our listeners and to ourselves, is to think about what are the conditions necessary in a relationship that can make apologies easier to make and accept? An apology is such a risky thing to do is there anything we can do to lay the groundwork where making an apology might actually work better?
And here I think that we can take a lesson from G-d Himself. The Yud Gimmel Middot Harachamim - the Thirteen Attributes of Compassion or Forgiveness, I would want to suggest that they're not just talking about G-d as someone who can forgive, but they're actually talking about a G-d who makes apologies easier. The G-d that makes the conditions necessary for Him to forgive, which is man coming clean in an apology, easier. The Yud Gimmel Middot Harachamim in other words, are not just something that happens after an apology that G-d says, oh I'll forgive you now, but it's actually something that happens before an apology that lays the ground for apology so that G-d can forgive you.
Think about what it is that we say about G-d. We say about G-d the following things. Hashem, Hashem - that means G-d, G-d. We say the word G-d twice, G-d in His attribute of compassion, G-d as this creator. The commentators wonder why it is that we say the word twice, and Rashi based upon the Midrash says that the double Hashem indicates that - just says one thing. Ka'an kodem ha'cheit v'ka'an l'acharei ha'cheit - G-d is G-d before sin and G-d is G-d after sin. What does that even mean? Of course G-d is G-d before sin, G-d is G-d after sin. It's the same G-d before sin, the same G-d after sin.
If you just meditate upon those words for a moment; the same G-d before sin, the same G-d after sin. Say that over five times to yourself, there's something comforting about those words. What's comforting about them?
So let me tell you a story - I bet my Mom remembers this story. My Mom is in the room here. The story is with my grandfather - my grandmother, I believe, is listening to this webinar, so this is her late husband. So my Grandfather [Leo 58:47] gave me once a pocketknife. It was his pocketknife, it was a pocketknife he had had since a long time and it was just like this rite of passage. I was like 10 years old and I was old enough to actually get my grandfather's pocketknife. He made a big ceremony of bequeathing this pocketknife that he had had since a child to me. I was very happy to have this pocketknife and whenever I would meet him he would say, how is my pocketknife doing, and I would show him the pocketknife. And it's like yeah, and we'd whittle things together, like this big deal, that [he let me have 59:19] this pocketknife.
Anyway, so I go to Chicago which is where my father's relatives are, my father's mother, Aleha Shalom, [Bubby Rose], and I'm there in Chicago. I'm playing with the pocketknife outside and cutting some grass or weeds or something. I go back inside and I'm checking my pants' pocket and the pocketknife is gone. I go out frantically in the backyard and I'm searching, where the heck is this pocketknife? I go everywhere and there's like tears streaming down my face, I cannot find this pocketknife anywhere. I spend the next two days just combing through the grass, somewhere this pocketknife is, I just can't find it. It was just gone, it has disappeared.
I remember coming back living in fear of the next time I would encounter my grandfather, because I knew what he was going to say; how's the pocketknife doing? Where's the pocketknife? It's like, how am I going to be able to encounter him? I remember that it's like - I remember he would ask me about it and it was like I'd change the subject, or I'd find - I just couldn't find a way to tell him. It was that feeling like if he only knew. In my little, 10-year-old brain, I thought if he would know that I was such a useless kid to have been so careless with his pocketknife as to lose it, that could our relationship survive? Because there was so much invested in this pocketknife. I just felt like how could I do that?
Really, all I had to do was come clean and apologize. But my little, 10-year-old brain couldn't really understand that. The fantasy fear that I had was that this was so important to my grandfather that it was like going to break him - like I had seen my grandfather just sort of shatter at the news that the pocketknife has gone. It's almost like the most reassuring thing that a parent or an authority figure or somebody can say to you is look, I know you, and - I think our deepest fear is for the people that we love is you love me, I know you love me, but you love me because you only see the good sides of me. If you knew who I really was, if you knew what was deep in my heart, if you knew I lost that pocketknife, you wouldn't love me. You wouldn't really love me. You wouldn't be able to take it. Our relationship wouldn't be able to take it, you would shatter, there would be nothing left. This is our great fear.
What G-d says is, relax, I know who you are, I know the kinds of sins you're capable of, I've one thing for you, I'm G-d, the same G-d I am before the sin, I'm the same after the sin. I don't get ruffled that easily and I'm G-d and I'm here. That's the first thing G-d says. That's the basis of the Yud Gimmel Middot Harachamim. Everything else in the Yud Gimmel Middot Harachamim is just a playing out of that one truth, that I'm the same G-d before and the same G-d after. What does that mean? I'm a compassionate G-d, I'm a gracious G-d, I'm a G-d that's slow to anger and I have all the patience in the world, you can tell me about the pocketknife as long as it takes you to get the words out, we can take the time necessary for you to be able to get comfortable.
And at the very end of that; Kel rachum v'chanun - You're gracious, You're compassionate, You love me; Erech apayim - You're slow to anger, You've got all the patience in the world; Rav chesed - You love me, You've given me all sorts of things - but at the end of that; V'emet - G-d still demands truth from you. But that truth that He demands from you, that willingness for you to say the truth is I lost the pocketknife, you're able to say that because you know you're talking to a compassionate G-d, you know you're talking to a patient G-d. [You're talking to a G-d who is 63:01] not going to get shattered by your admission of wrongdoing. And all - that's all the stuff that's in place that allows Emet to be there, and Emet is Vidui. Emet is that ability to say the truth. When you can say the truth you can restore the relationship.
So the Yud Gimmel Middot Harachamim prepare the ground for forgiveness. They're not just about forgiveness which happens after confession, they're what allows us to confess in the first place. It makes us easier because it takes away that reason we don't confess which is what would happen, everything would fall apart.
So those would be my…
Immanuel Shalev: I love it. I think it's very inspiring, and to tie it back together with Rosh Hashanah at least, it seems to be that when you hear that Kol that's when there is that demand to respond with a truth, with Emet. It's just reminding me over and over again of the stories in Bereishit where the second Adam commits his sin he doesn't immediately get kicked out of the garden, instead he has an encounter with voice - G-d's voice is strolling in the garden and He speaks to Adam and says; Ahyekah - where are you? Adam instead - it reminds me exactly of the pocketknife story, instead of turning around and saying - and by the way you have that whole piece on Ahyekah as not - it's not just where are you, it's where have you gone? I'm here. I'm here with you, I'm supposed to be here with you but you're not here. Adam, instead of turning around and saying I lost the pocketknife, he hides, he's hiding from G-d and he ends up blaming Chava and Chava ends up blaming the snake and no one is taking responsibility for their actions.
The same thing happens with Kayin as well. When Kayin commits his sin, G-d again gives him the chance. He comes out with His voice and He speaks to Kayin and Kayin instead, again, also hides from G-d and denies responsibility.
So maybe this is why Rosh Hashanah comes right before - comes before Yom Kippur - because first you have to hear the voice and then Yom Kippur is sort of about now what are you going to say? Are you going to be…
Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah, and I think that's a beautiful way of thinking about it. That the great sin, maybe even more than eating from the tree of knowledge, is what you choose to do afterwards, is hiding. Which is that you have to be able to find it within yourself somehow to go back and to have that conversation about the pocketknife instead of completely avoiding it - which is the natural human response. And hiding just indicates that yeah, that's the default response, we're all going to do that. But G-d is trying to lay the groundwork so that you don't have to hide.
Immanuel Shalev: It's amazing that your suggestion is that you can still sin as long as you're honest, as long as you turn around and you say, I didn't want to sin, I don't want to be the person who sins. That G-d is still going to be the same G-d after the Cheit as before.
Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah. That's - I think that is the essence of the Yud Gimmel Middot Harachamim. Think about that on Yom Kippur because Yud Gimmel Middot Harachamim play a very important role - Ne'ilah, that's going to be the only thing that you say. Think about the structure of Ne'ilah, the final prayers on Yom Kippur, are just the Selichot and they go back - all the Selichot are an excuse to say the Yud Gimmel Middot Harachamim one more time. Then finally there's - we cheat and there's a Selichah itself which is just composed of the Yud Gimmel Middot Harachamim leading you up to say it again. It's just you're saying it over and over and over again.
Remember, G-d is the one who teaches it to the Moshe. So the beautiful thing about it is, is that there's that famous Midrash where when G-d first taught the Yud Gimmel Middot Harachamim it says that G-d so to speak wrapped Himself up in a Tallis like a Shaliach Tzibur, like someone who was Davening for the Amud and taught Moshe. Said here's how you are supposed to pray to Me, this is what you need to say about Me, this is who I am and this is what you have to understand in order to be able to pray, in order to be able to approach Me.
So, I don't know, to me those are important thoughts to take into Yom Kippur.
So we've exceeded our time for about 15 minutes but I do want to say thank you to all of you who have watched the course and who have invested the time in listening to it. We invest a lot of time in creating it and it - we - it doesn't mean anything unless you guys watch it and it means something to you. So I really appreciate you guys investing the time and coming to this webinar and investing in Aleph Beta and what it is that we're trying to do here.
We've started a little bit of a tradition of these webinars after Holiday courses, as a way of kind of processing with you some of the thoughts that the courses create for ourselves. I'm grateful for the opportunity, hope you'll join us again in the future. Let me just take this opportunity to wish all of you here listening a wonderful, happy and healthy and good New Year to you and to those that you love. It should be a year that very wonderful things happen and that you're a part of G-d's story in a good way, in a fulfilling way and that G-d should tell good stories about us. I wish you a good year and a good Yom Kippur.
For Immu, this is Rabbi Fohrman and everyone else here in the room, signing off and a good Yom Kippur to you all.
Immanuel Shalev: Thanks guys. Just one note of announcement, we love hearing from you personally, we read all of your comments and your thoughts. So if you have anything you want to share with us; your reactions on this webinar or the courses in general, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: Webinar. We look forward to hearing from you and have a Gmar Chatimah Tovah.
Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah, and I'll just echo that. We do really like listening to that, so if you have any feedback from the course or from the webinar or any further questions, please send that along to email@example.com.
Have a good Yom Kippur to you all.
Immanuel Shalev: Bye guys.