The Teshuvah Of Rosh Hashanah
There is a famous Rambam in Hilchos Teshuvah 3:4 that says: "Although the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah is a decree from Hashem, there is a remez (reason) behind its blowing. The reason is that the sound of the shofar is to remind us to wake up from our slumber and inspect our actions, do teshuvah, and remember our creator. And those who have forgotten the truth and wasted their time should look into their souls and inspect their way of life. They should leave the wrong path that they find themselves on". Clearly the Rambam believes that on Rosh Hashanah one should do teshuvah, as he says that the shofar is to awaken us to do teshuvah. Similarly it would seem that one should do teshuvah on Rosh Hashanah, as it is part of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah (10 Days of Repentance).
The Rambam says in the second perek of Hilchos Teshuvah that the mitzvah of teshuvah is comprised of four components: vidui (confession), charatah (regret), azivah (stopping oneself from sinning again), and kabbalah (resolution). The Rambam also says that one must verbalize his confessions in order for it to be valid. The Achronim are bothered by the following question: Why don't we find the teshuvah process to be a part of the Rosh Hashanah davening – as we do on Yom Kippur? Similarly there is no minhag to do the teshuvah process on Rosh Hashanah. Some even have the custom to not eat foods that have the same gematria as the word "chet" (sin). So if the shofar is to remind us to do teshuvah, why don't we do any of the teshuvah process on Rosh Hashanah?
The Gemara in Kiddushin 49b says that if one says to a woman "be mekudeshes (betrothed) to me on the condition that I am a tzaddik gamur (complete tzaddik)" and she accepts, the kiddushin is valid even if he is known to be a rasha gamur (complete sinner). This is because perhaps he was meharher b'teshuvah b'libo (thinking of teshuvah in his heart). The Minchas Chinuch (Mitzvah 364) is bothered by how the kiddushin can be valid when it was contingent on the fact that the man was a tzaddik gamur, and instead he was a known rasha gamur? In order for him to become a tzaddik gamur he would have to go through the lengthy process of teshuvah that entails a verbal confession. How could he have accomplished all of that so quickly, and how did the witnesses not hear him repenting?
The Sefer Harirai Kedem and Reb Moshe Shmuel Shapiro explain that the teshuvah of Rosh Hashanah is different from that of Yom Kippur, and that of the mitzvah of teshuvah in general. The mitzvah of teshuvah indeed requires the abovementioned four-step process, and that is what we do on Yom Kippur as well. This form of teshuvah atones for and wipes clean one's sins. However, on Rosh Hashanah we do not do teshuvah on individual sins; rather, as the Rambam said earlier, the teshuvah is to awaken us from our sleep, remember our Creator, look into our souls, stop wasting our time with nothingness, and leave the wrong path as we return to the right path. With the teshuvah of Rosh Hashanah, one does not remove any of his individual sins; instead he changes his life's path, and his outlook and direction. Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the 10 Days of Repentance, is the first step in the teshuvah process of the 10-day period. The days following Rosh Hashanah are focused on the mitzvah of teshuvah for individual sins – with Yom Kippur as the climax.
With this, the Sefer Harirai Kedem explains the Gemara in Kiddushin that is mentioned above. With the form of teshuvah that we do on Rosh Hashanah, a person becomes a tzaddik even though he has not done the mitzvah of teshuvah to remove his sins. Once he awakens from the wrong path and is determined to start following the right path, he attains the status of a tzaddik. Therefore, when the individual proposed kiddushin on condition that he is a tzaddik gamur, we can assume that perhaps he had this form of teshuvah in mind, namely to change direction – which does not require anything verbal and is not lengthy. Thus the kiddushin is valid, as he attained the status of a tzaddik even though he still has not atoned for his sins.
The Kotzker Rebbe suggested another explanation as to why the kiddushin is valid in the abovementioned Gemara in Kiddushin. We know that a chassan attains atonement of all of his sins without even doing teshuvah. Therefore, when one does kiddushin on condition that he is a tzaddik gamur, the kiddushin is valid since he will become a tzaddik gamur together with becoming a chassan.
G'mar chasimah tovah.
For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.
Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 10/05/2011 12:40:00 AM