By Stephen Kirschenbaum
We know there were 11 Arurs and Baruchs that were recited on Har Grizim and Har Eival in a special process that was said when Klal Yisrael entered Eretz Yisrael. The Chumash states in 27:26 ‘Arur Asher Lo Yakum Es Divrei HaTorah HaZos.’ Cursed is the one who does not keep the words of the Torah, which is a general Arur; conversely, there is a Baruch Asher Yakim, a reciprocal Beracha for those that keep the Torah. Rashi says כאן כלל את כל התורה כולה וקבלוה עליהם באלה ובשבועה, here the entire Torah was compiled and accepted by Klal Yisrael by taking an oath to keep the words of the Torah – as the Gemara teaches, ‘Mushba ViOmed Mei’Har Sinai Hu.’ The people said Amen which is a Kabbalas HaDevarim, which serves as an acceptance of this Shevua. Tosafos Shavuos 29a ask a Kasha. What does this Shevuah accomplish exactly; what was the point of taking on such a Shevua? If you’re afraid that the person will be Oved Avoda Zara, so the person would simply just abandon the Torah; what does it help to make him swear — he won’t care about ignoring a Shevua he once made if he plans to abandon the Torah anyway? What does Shevua accomplish in this regard? This is Tosafos’ question.
Rav Hutner imparts an important Yesod in the Pachad Yitzchak on Yom HaKippurim 4:2. A fundamental aspect of the Yamim Noraim is the idea of Kabbalos, the idea of being Mikabeil Al HaAsid, of accepting upon oneself to take on certain things in a better way and on a higher level moving forward. Rav Hutner has an extraordinary insight regarding the notion of taking on such a Kabbalah for the future. Part of Teshuva is of course the Viduy, the Charata. Regretting past misdeeds, admission for committing those infractions, and then the Kabbalah Al HaAsid — accepting not to repeat these mistakes moving forward. Says Rav Hutner, the idea of being Mikabeil for the future bears significance separate from the fact that it’s part of the Teshuva process. How so? A Kabbalah Al HaAsid is not only to prevent the Aveira from repeating itself, but even more, it serves as a pledge. As Rav Hutner phrases, it’s a ‘Hiskashrus Yisaira,’ an added and meaningful connection; it’s not just to prevent a negative, but to apply and reinforce the positive. To say in the future, I am connected. If somebody ignores the Torah, he ignores the Shevua as well. We are talking about a committed person that makes this Shevua, makes a Kabbalah, makes an acceptance for the future. That’s a connection and an acceptance upon oneself that one is going put forth the effort to accomplish his goal. That Kabbalah in and of itself carries with it tremendous value.
Rav Yisroel Reisman once shared that many years ago, Rav Pam spoke to Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel. Rav Nosson Tzvi had asked a certain Talmid to accept a job as a Mashgiach in one of the Yeshivos. Rav Pam thought this Talmid was still young and so he was not yet ready for that type of an Achrayos. Rav Nosson Tzvi called him and said ‘Mit Di Achrayos Kum De Kochos,’ with the Achrayos comes the Kochos. With the responsibility, a person musters the ability and attains the maturity to ultimately accomplish the task at hand. Rav Pam was very moved by this attitude and would repeat this Yesod on many occasions. With the acceptance of responsibility, comes the wherewithal and the sense of duty to be successful.
This is the lesson of the Kabbala Al HaAsid. It’s an idea of taking on the Achrayos to commit oneself to achieve. When we zero in and focus on a particular Kabbalah for the Yamim Noraim, Mit Di Achrayos Kum De Kochos. With the sense of responsibility and obligation, we can achieve and reach our goal moving forward.
The Ketzos HaChoshen asks a question. The Pasuk in Tehillim 119:106 says ‘Nishbaati Va’akayeima Li’shmor Mishpitei Tzidkecha.’ David HaMelech acknowledges he made Shevuos to keep the Mitzvos of the Torah. The Ketzos asks Ain Shevua Chal Al HaShevua. If one makes a Shevua to do a Mitzvah, the Gemara says he already swore at Har Sinai and so Ain Shevua Chal Al Hashevua, one cannot make a second Shevua based on a first Shevua; the second Shevua should not take any effect. So, what is this idea the Gemara says to make a Shevua Bi’zruzai Nafshei? The Gemara says you take a Shevua to do a Mitzvah to embolden yourself, to motivate yourself to get moving. As David HaMelech said, he made Shevuos to keep the Mitzvos of the Torah. Asks the Ketzos, but it’s false, the Shevua isn’t Chal and doesn’t even really exist?
According to this Yesod of Rav Hutner and of Rav Pam from Rav Nosson Tzvi, it’s beautiful. The notion of this Shevua is indeed not simply to observe Hilchos Shevuos, but rather, it’s a Kabbalah to serve as an undertaking and as a pledge. It’s a statement of Lo Saamin B’atzmecha, of a person saying I will motivate myself to accomplish, I am going to push myself to succeed. A beautiful Yesod for the impending Yamim Noraim.