Monday, September 24, 2012

On Selichot

I didn't catch the name of the fellow who spoke at YU's Shalashudes.  I enjoyed the Torah he shared. One standout thought was from the GRA: We're told to open our hand to the poor - besides literally - metaphorically.  When our hand hand is clenched it's easy to assume that all our fingers are the same.  When we open our hand we see how different one finger is from the other.  So too we must open our hearts to the storied situation of each poor soul that comes before us.

The speaker noted that Selicot every day opens with the image of us standing before G-d as a poor person before a donor.  Just as we are expected to see the difference between each poor person we urge G-d to take into account each of our individual circumstances and therefore have mercy on us as he judges us.


My life at my request, my people at my petition.  We repeat these words over and over in Selichot (Selichah 75, Artscroll - page 641).  It's a quote of Esther (7:3). What she begged of a king of flesh and blood we ask of the King of all kings. The same exact  refrain is used in another Selichah (19, Artscroll - page 224). On a related, on Musaf of Rosh HaShanah (a few days ago) we introduced sections of the Shmoneh Esrei of Musaf with the words "and so" ("u'vechein"), which many commentators say is a phrase purposely borrowed from the words of Esther in her pleas to Achashveirosh.

Things aren't what they seem - Purim has a major theme of teshuvah. The connection between Yom Kippur and Purim is a deep one.


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