24 Sep 2020 Avinu Malkeinu: For Your Sake, If Not For Ours
We now find ourselves in the Aseres Yimei Teshuva, the Ten Days of Repentance, which began on 1 Tishrei, Rosh Hashana, and end with the setting of the sun on 10 Tishrei, Yom Ha’Kippurim, the Day of Atonement.
These ten days are a time of introspection, reflection, repentance, and repair. The Ribbono Shel Olam knocks on our door, as He beckons us to come back to Him: אֲנִי יְשֵׁנָה, וְלִבִּי עֵר; קוֹל דּוֹדִי דוֹפֵק, פִּתְחִי–לִי אֲחֹתִי רַעְיָתִי יוֹנָתִי תַמָּתִי, I am asleep, but my heart is awake; the voice of my Beloved knocks! “Open up for Me, my sister, My friend, My dove, My pure one” (Shir Ha’Shirim 5:2).
The prophet exhorts us to return unto G-d, as we observe the holy Shabbos between Yom Ha’Din and Yom ha’Kippurim, Shabbos Shuva, the Shabbos of Return: שׁוּבָה יִשְׂרָאֵל, עַד, ה’ כִּי כָשַׁלְתָּ, בַּעֲונֶךָ – Return Israel unto Hashem, your G-d, for you have stumbled in your iniquity (Hoshea 14:2).
It is never too late to repent and return, and just as man must believe in G-d, so too he must believe in himself, and his ability to change (R’ Tzadok ha’Kohen of Lublin).
In order to facilitate this repentance, we increase our tefilos, give more charity, and strive to change our ways. The Rambam teaches: וּמִפְּנֵי עִנְיָן זֶה נָהֲגוּ כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל לְהַרְבּוֹת בִּצְדָקָה וּבְמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים וְלַעֲסֹק בְּמִצְוֹת מֵרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה וְעַד יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים יֶתֶר מִכָּל הַשָּׁנָה, because of this matter (the gravity of these days), it is customary for all of Israel to increase their giving of charity, and their good deeds, and to be involved in the performance of mitzvos, from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Ha’Kippurim, more than during all the rest of the year (Hilchos Teshuva 3:4).
One of the additional tefillos that is recited during these Ten Days, beginning on Rosh Hashana and continuing through Nei’lah of Yom Kippur is Avinu Malkeinu, Our Father, Our King.
Our Father, our King, we have sinned before You;
Our Father, our King, withhold the plague – mageifah – from Your heritage;
Our Father, our King, open the gates of heaven to our prayer;
Our Father, our King, have mercy upon us, upon our children and our infants;
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of those who were murdered for Your Holy Name;
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of those who were slaughtered for Your Oneness;
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of those who went into fire and water for the sanctification of Your Name;
Our Father, our King, avenge before our eyes the spilled blood of Your servants;
Our Father, our King, act for Your sake, if not for ours!
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of Your abundant compassion…
R’ Soloveitchik zt’l teaches, “You (Hashem) Who hold out an open hand of repentance to receive transgressors and sinners – our soul is overwhelmed by our great sorrow. Do not forget us forever. Arise and save us, for we seek refuge in You. Our Father, our King, though we lack righteousness and good deeds, remember us for the covenant of our fathers, and our testimonies daily that ‘Hashem echad – The L-rd is One.’ Look on our affliction, for many are our sufferings and heartaches. Have pity on us, L-rd, in the land of our captivity. Do not pour out Your wrath on us, for we are Your people, the children of Your covenant. G-d, see how low our glory has sunk among the nations. They abhor us as if we were impure. How long will Your strength be captive, and Your glory in the hand of the foe? Arouse Your strength and zeal against Your enemies. Let them be shamed and deprived of power. Let not our hardships seem small to You. Swiftly, may Your compassion reach us in the day of our distress. If not for our sake, act for Yours, so that the memory of our survivors be not destroyed. Be gracious to the nation who, in constant love, proclaim twice daily the unity of Your name, saying, ‘Hear O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One’” (Siddur Koren Masoret haRav, p.164).
Our Father, our King, be gracious with us and answer us, though we have no worthy deeds, treat us with charity and kindness and save us.
Friday, erev Shabbos, 7 Tishrei 5781 (corresponding to 9/25/20) marks the second yarzheit of ha’kadosh Ari Fuld z’l HY”D, stabbed in the back by a 17 year old Arab terrorist, y’s, in the shopping mall at the Etzion junction.
“With his last strength, Ari fought heroically against the terrorist and prevented a greater tragedy,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “Ari was a wonderful father to four children. He was an advocate for Israel who fought to spread the truth about Israel. May his memory be a blessing.” “With a stab wound in the back he ran, drew his gun and fired before collapsing, just to make sure the terrorist would not continue to hurt others,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted. https://www.timesofisrael.com/ari-fuld-45-named-as-victim-of-west-bank-stabbing-attack/
“I don’t know how I will go on without you,” said Fuld’s widow, Miriam, said in one of many eulogies delivered by family members at the funeral. “We were born 24 hours apart from one another. We didn’t know it would end like this. You fought for what you believed in. I promise to take care of the children. Your job is to look after us from above.”
While we work on ourselves to return unto G-d, let us beseech the RS”O that this year, 5781, He shall return to us, with the ultimate redemption, and peace for His people, His Land, His city and this world.
Our Father, our King, avenge before our eyes the spilled blood of Your servants; Our Father, our King, act for Your sake, if not for ours!
בברכת גמר וחתימה טובה,