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Repentance, Prayer, and Charity


Our Sages taught that sometimes, although there may be a harsh decree hovering over an individual, “Repentance, prayer, and charity remove the harsh decree.” Repentance Repentance refers to the Mitzvah of Teshuva. Every individual must inspect his ways and improve his actions. Included in this is what was customary in earlier generations when many people would spend this month engaged in fasts. Even in our days, many people tend to abstain from different forms of luxuries during this time, such as excessive feasts and parties. One should certainly not be involved in all sorts of random entertainment activities, for these days should be completely sanctified to Hashem. Prayer Prayer refers to praying fervently before Hashem with a broken heart and even with tears, as the verse states, “A broken and downtrodden heart You shall not reject.” If one merely pays attention to the words of the various prayers, one will immediately feel a deep connection to these ancient and holy words, especially during the Amida prayer. When one who concentrates properly on one’s prayer, this serves as a great merit for acceptance of one’s prayers, as the verse states, “Prepare their hearts, Your ears shall listen,” meaning that if Hashem prepares one’s heart to concentrate on one’s prayer, this is a sign and merit that one’s prayer will be answered. Charity Charity refers to the Mitzvah of Tzedakah which one should engage in joyously during these days. Unless one is donating the charity funds immediately, one should take care to always say Bli Neder when making a pledge or commitment so as not to transgress the sin of vowing and not paying, G-d-forbid. The Gemara in Masechet Ta’anit states that droughts plague the world because of those who publicly pledge Tzedakah and do not pay it. One is punished measure for measure, for one’s livelihood is likened to clouds and wind, which are indicative of the rain about to begin to fall; however, it will all end in losses. One should therefore be very careful about this matter. Loving Kindness The verse in Michah states: “You have been told, man, what is good and what Hashem requires of you: Only to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk modestly with your G-d.” The verse does not say to “perform kindness,” rather to “love kindness,” for one must become accustomed to love charity and kindness and to perform them with all of one’s heart. Maran Ha’Chida recounts in his Sefer Kisseh David that once, Hagaon Harav David Yitzchaki, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem (and father of Hagaon Harav Avraham Yitzchaki, author of Sefer Zera Avraham), was in dire financial straits and as a result, borrowed a gold coin from another individual. Rav David put the coin in his pocket and continued on his way. Suddenly, a poor man came up to Rav David and asked for charity. Rav David, who had forgotten that he had a gold coin in his pocket, reached into his pocket, pulled out the gold coin thinking it was a penny, and gave it to the pauper. When he arrived home, Rav David realized what had transpired. He was overjoyed with this Mitzvah, for had he realized at the time that the gold coin was in his pocket, he would not have merited such a great Mitzvah due to his own great poverty. Maran Ha’Chida concludes, “This joy did not leave him that entire day.”


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