By Stephen Kirshenbaum
We are going to say Al Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha B’oneis U’biratzon. Many have asked why we say Al Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha B’oneis. After all, if somebody is an Oneis, there is no punishment. Unsa K’man Lo Avid, when there is somebody who is Over an Aveira B’oneis it is considered as if he didn’t transgress an Aveira. Why do we need to ask for Kappara on a Cheit that we did B’oneis?
In his commentary on the top Tosafos on Kesubos 3a (V’Savra), the Haflaah imparts a Klal which is also mentioned in the Beis Halevi on Parshas Shemos as well. The Klal that the Haflaah says pertains to somebody who is an Oneis, somebody who is guiltless in something that takes place. The Haflaah says that the excuse of Oneis is only sufficient if absent the Oneis, the person would not have done what had happened.
In the case in the Gemara, a person gave a Get on a condition that if he returns within 30 days it is not a Get. The Gemara tells a story of a man who came back at the end of 30 days, and he was stuck on the other side of the river. The normal ferry that took him across was not available and he was screaming חזו דאתאי חזו דאתאי, look I am coming, I am coming. So, the Gemara says that he is an Oneis, that it is as if he came. His not coming doesn’t count because he is deemed an Oneis.
Says the Haflaah, the Gemara is teaching us that he is screaming חזו דאתאי חזו דאתאי, look I am trying to come, for a reason. Had he decided in the morning that he is not coming and subsequently found out that the ferry sunk and he couldn’t come anyway, but then change his mind and later decide it wasn’t my fault, I was an Oneis, that would not be a valid excuse. The rule is you can’t use the excuse of Oneis in an instance where you didn’t want to come anyway, where you didn’t want to do it anyway. This is the Klal of the Haflaah.
The Beis Halevi imparts this Klal about a Mechaleil Shabbos. He discusses somebody who is always Mechaleil Shabbos. He says even if one Shabbos he did Melacha to save someone’s life, he will be punished for that Melacha. He can’t say I was an Oneis because it was Pikuach Nefashos — this is because he would have committed the Chilul Shabbos even if it were not Pikuach Nefashos.
Rav Hershel Schachter one time mentioned this in regard to someone who is going to work, and he only has a few minutes or hours in the day to learn Torah. If he learns during those hours, he can have the excuse for the other hours during which he’s working that he is an Oneis because he has to work to support his family. However, if he doesn’t utilize that small window of time productively, then he has no excuse of Oneis even during the hours in which he’s working.
Al Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha B’oneis U’bi’ratzon. The Aveiros that we do B’oneis because we couldn’t help it. But it was B’oneis Bi’ratzon. It was an Oneis but even had it not been an Oneis, we would be guilty B’ratzon for having done that anyway. There is no excuse of Oneis if absent the Oneis, you wouldn’t care.
Many of us were Anusim over the last year or two. We weren’t able to perform Mitzvos in the manner in which we are accustomed to. Mitzvos, such as learning at home, is not the same as learning in the Shul. There were many excuses that would seem to be very valid excuses. But those excuses are only good excuses to the extent that when the excuse subsides, we embrace the Mitzvos that we missed with the appropriate excitement, enthusiasm, and observance. Only in that case does a person have the excuse that he is an Oneis. Al Cheit Shechatanu Lefanecha B’oneis U’bi’ratzon. But there were some Onsim that were Bi’ratzon as well. We were (or were not) missing that which we could have had. For that, we need to be able to do a Teshuva.