In the last segment, we learned that, in Yaaleh V’Yavo, we ask Hashem to elevate our tefilos, to “remember” us, our Avos, Mashiach, Yerushalayim, and the Jewish People, and to take action (the meaning of “remember”) to establish the Beis HaMikdash in Tzion and bring us all back to Yerushalayim. In the second half of Yaaleh V’Yavo, we ask Hashem for all we need in order to serve Him.
From the word “Yaaleh” to the word “yizacheir,” there are eight words representing the seven “r’ki’im” and one word representing rising above the r’ki’im. HaRav Chaim Friedlander, based on his rebbe HaRav Eliyahu Dessler’s explanation of the Vilna Gaon, explains that we are asking that our tefilos rise above the spiritual barricades represented by the seven r’ki’im. The explanation and depth of this is beyond my understanding.
Rosh Chodesh is a time of judgment. Some recite a “Yom Kippur Katan” service/prayers on Erev Rosh Chodesh because Rosh Chodesh is a “z’man kaparah,” a time for atonement (see Musaf of Rosh Chodesh). The Mishnah B’rurah (siman 417:4, at the very end) writes that even for those who do not fast on Erev Rosh Chodesh (some have the custom to fast), all should perform the mitzvah of t’shuvah and resolve to correct that which we erred in the previous month. The Chafetz Chaim concludes by saying: “Then the day of [Rosh] Chodesh will definitely be for him a time of atonement for all his ‘offspring’ (i.e., for all of his deeds for that month), meaning that if we make the effort to perform a spiritual accounting (cheshbon ha’nefesh) for the previous month, and do t’shuvah, then we will certainly receive the atonement on Rosh Chodesh.” HaRav Avigdor Miller would say that the first thing we should do is happily thank Hashem for another month of life.
Each new month is, in a sense, a mini-Rosh HaShanah. Hashem judges us on the past month and assigns us an updated “tafkid” (role) along with all that we will need in order to fulfill that updated tafkid.
In Yaaleh V’Yavo, we actually ask for this judgment: “v’yipakeid…u’fikdoneinu.” We ask Hashem to help us by judging us and “remembering” our deeds (“zichroneinu”) and how those deeds measured up against our assigned role (“u’fikdoneinu”). We ask Hashem to evaluate our deeds against our role, because before we leave this world, we want to have achieved our purpose in this world to our fullest potential. Therefore, if we need a “tune-up” and need to take a few steps back, it is to our ultimate benefit to recalibrate.
In these four words, we are, in effect, asking Hashem to help us achieve our purpose in life to our fullest potential, by judging us and making any necessary adjustments we need. May we all merit to fulfill our true potential b’simchah.
[This segment, as well as the previous ones, are mostly based on Rabbi Chaim Friedlander’s sefer Rinas Chaim on Shemoneh Esrei.]
To access print versions of previous Tefilah segments, please visit OU Torah’s Search portal, select the Topic of “Tefillah,” and then select “Weekly Tefilah Focus” from the Series list.
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