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How fortunate we are that we think of Teshuva every day --at least three times a day--and that we can actually ASK FOR HASHEM’S ASSISTANCE in doing Teshuva! The Sefer Olas Tomid notes that both in this bracha and in the next bracha of Selach Lonu-we approach Hashem as Avinu--asking for that extra level of mercy that a Father can grant. Accordingly, we should be sure not to skip over the word quickly--but instead stop and recite it with the kavannah that it deserves! Rebbe Yonasan Eibeschutz, Z’tl, in the Sefer Ya’aros Devash writes that when reciting this bracha, a person should ask Hashem to extend ‘His hand--His sharvit hazahav’ to accept one’s Teshuva, and plead that even if one’s Teshuva is tested, Hashem will assist him the second time as well. The Ya’aros Devash adds the Teshuva we are being mispallel for is not only our own--but that of all of K’lal Yisroel. Let us think of our brethren--relatives and friends and those across the globe who have to be brought closer to Avinu--our Father--each in his own way.


The Fifth Bracha of Shemone Esrei, Hashiveinu is not a broad, general call to Hashem to bring us back to Teshuva. Rather, the Mishna Berurah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 115, seif katan 1) writes that the Bracha is intended for each and every one of us to ask Hashem for him to humble and bring down his own particular Yetzer Hara, and together with it to bring down each and every member of Klal Yisroel’s own unique Yetzer Hara. Indeed, the Tur (ibid.) writes that there are fifteen words in the Bracha corresponding to the fifteen words of the Posuk (Yeshaya 55:7): ‘Ya’azov Rasha Darko, VeIsh Aven Machshevosav…--Let the person who has done evil forsake his way and the sinful man his thoughts, let him return to Hashem and He will show him mercy, for Hashem is abundantly forgiving.’

Rabban Gamliel Rabanovitch, Shlita, adds that the first words of this Bracha are ‘HaShiveinu Avinu LeSorasecha.’ This means, he writes, that for one to indicate that he really wants to do Teshuva he must increase his Torah study. After all, if one does not know what is right and what is wrong, how do they know whether to do Teshuva or not--and how to do so? Accordingly, in an area in which one feels he is weak (such as Hilchos Brachos, Hilchos Shabbos, Hilchos Shecheinim) one should invest additional efforts to put himself on the path to Teshuva-- and this will make his Tefillah all the more meaningful--and all the more sincere!


Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Avos 2:13) teaches that one’s Tefillos should not be uttered as ‘keva’ (routine), but rather are uttered in a tone of Tachanunim--one pleading for mercy, for the Posuk (Yoel 2:13) states ‘Ki Chanun VeRachum Hu Erech Apayim…’--meaning, the Bartenura explains, that sincere supplication immediately arouses Hashem’s mercy. Incredibly, after providing this important teaching, Rebbi Shimon concludes with the words ‘VeAl Tehi Rasha Bifnei Atsmecha.’ The Rambam explains that this means that a person should not be a Rasha in his own eyes, thinking that he cannot avoid doing this, or stop from doing that…. If we are to sincerely daven with Tachanunim in this Bracha for Hashem to accept our Teshuva, we must believe and, in fact, know, that we can truly act as Tzaddikim going forward in respect of any aveirah that we have fallen prey to in the past. Whether it be Shemiras HaEinayim, Shemiras HaLashon, Shemiras Kashrus, or Shemiras HaGuf VeHaNefesh, we must recite the Bracha of HaShiveinu with the conviction that we will be better in an area in which we have previously faltered, then sincerely plead with Hashem for his assistance, which will hopefully then be immediately answered.

The Bracha of Hashiveinu is extremely and pivotally important at this time--as we reach a period of the year in which the Yetzer Hara will attempt to upend us, and make us become lesser people, as we move closer to Elul and Rosh Hashana. The Parshios of this time BeHa’alosecha, Shelach, Korach, Chukas… all demonstrate the foible, folly, flounder, and failure of sin. We can, we must take the lesson--a great place to start is with our sincere conviction and sincere supplication in the Bracha of Hashiveinu!


Chazal (Brachos 12B) teach that "Kol HaOseh Devar Aveirah U’Mesbayeish Bo Mochlin Lo Al Kol Avonosav--one who does an Aveirah and is ashamed of it is forgiven for his sins." When reciting HaShiveinu one should feel true remorse and shame for an iniquity that he knows that he has committed. Clearly, Hashem wants our sincere feelings for His mercy to be aroused. The Bracha of HaShiveinu concludes with the unique words: "HaRotzeh BiTeshuva--Hashem wants, Hashem yearns for our Teshuva"--we have to want it at least as much!


HaRav Schwab, Z’tl, in the monumental work Rav Schwab on Prayer (Artscroll), provides the following clarity for us on the words ‘VeKarveinu Malkeinu LaAvodasecha--and bring us close Hashem to your service.’: "Help us to become aware that we are serving You in our Avodah. This refers both to Tefillah and the observance of Mitzvos. Here we ask HaKadosh Baruch Hu for help in elevating our Tefillah to the level of Avodasecha--Your service, in which we are clearly aware that we are communicating directly with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. The same thing applies to Kiyum HaMitzvos, which are often performed perfunctorily without the awareness that by these acts we are fulfilling the will of HaKadosh Baruch Hu and thereby serving Him. We therefore must ask HaKadosh Baruch Hu for His help in elevating our Avodah to the level where it becomes Avodasecha. Rav Schwab continues: "May I suggest the following parable for this. There was a son who embezzled a huge amount of money from his father and then disappeared. After many years of not communicating with his father--during which time the son had lost all of this ill-gotten money--he tearfully telephoned his father begging for forgiveness and for permission to return home. The father, having compassion for his long-lost son, readily welcomed him back. However, said the son, "Unfortunately, I am penniless, Dad, so could you please send me a ticket to come home?" Similarly, we too are asking HaKadosh Baruch Hu for help in coming ‘back home’ to Him. We want to make our Torah and Tefillah meaningful and come close to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, but we need help from Him to bring us back. We cannot do it on our own. Hakhel Note: With the powerful three words of VeKarveinu Malkeinu LaAvodasecha, we cry out for help and draw closer to Hashem--as we ask Hashem to draw closer to us!


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As we draw closer to Rosh Hashana, we are aptly reminded about the need to do Teshuvah!  We begin with the plea of “Hashiveinu Avinu LeSorasecha--Hashem return us to Your Torah [the basis of all Teshuvah].”  The Tur (Orach Chaim 115) writes that the term ‘Avinu’--our Father is used here, because a father is obligated to teach his son Torah--and we ask Hashem as our Father to please do so.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, teaches that we specifically ask for ‘Hashiveinu LeSorasecha’--to return to Torah, because we were initially taught Torah in our mother’s womb so that we would be able to better study the Torah once we are born (Niddah 30B).  Moreover, with the term Hashiveinu, HaRav Kaniesvky teaches, we are especially pleading for ‘Hashiveinu’--for Hashem to return all of K’lal Yisroel back to their knowledge of Torah.  Finally, HaRav Kanievsky teaches that the order of the two brachos of Hashiveinu followed by Selach Lanu requires explanation.  After all, should we not first ask for forgiveness of the past, and then to be brought back to Torah for the future.  The explanation may be, he concludes, that when we return to Torah--Hashem will forgive us! 



A.  From a reader:  “I heard from Rabbi Paysach Krohn, Shlita, that all Nusachos have the same word-for-word Nusach for this bracha, Ashkenaz, Sefard, Sefaradi, Ari, Teimani, etc., and that this is the only Bracha in Shemone Esrei for which this holds true.”  Hakhel Note:  Astounding, Absolutely Astounding!


B.  We continue the bracha with the words V’Karveinu Malkeinu La’Avodasecha.  The term Malkeinu here is in contrast to the term Avinu in the first phrase of the Bracha.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, explains that Rebbi Akiva established the Nusach of Avinu Malkeinu and that his prayers were answered with this Nusach (Ta’anis 25B).  Accordingly, we continue in the same manner with Avinu and Malkeinu!


C.  The Levush comments that our Bakasha for Teshuva follows our Bakasha for Binah, because Binah--our understanding--causes us to reflect upon our actions and deeds--and to do Teshuvah. 


D.  The Tur writes that there are 15 words in the Bracha--representing the seven Reki’im (heavens), the seven spaces (six between them and one above them) and the Kisei HaKavod--for our sincere Teshuvah reaches the Kisei HaKavod itself!  Let us make sure that each word in this Bracha counts for us--so that our Teshuvah reaches the highest point possible!



The Sefer Olas Tomid explains that there are two types of Avodah referred to in the phrase V’Karveinu Malkeinu La’Avodasecha:  (1) Our fulfillment of the entire Torah--and in this Bracha we ask that Hashem bring us closer to fulfillment of the entire Torah with a full heart; and (2) The Avodah of Tefillah, and we ask for Hashem to help us so that our Tefillah will originate not from our mouth--but from our heart.  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, adds that the depth of the term V’Karveinu--bring us close--to is our request that we be brought back to our original Avodah of Karbonos in the Bais Hamikdash, which we painfully feel oh so far away from!  In all events, whether we are serving Hashem with our Tefillos, in the Bais Hamikdash, or through our other Kiyum HaMitzvos, we always remember that we are privileged to always stand before Malkeinu--in the presence of our King!




We continue with the phrase “VeHachzireinu BiShuvah Shleimah Lefanecha--and help us return in complete repentance before You.”  HaRav Chaim Friedlander, Z’tl, notes that the term Hachzireinu is similar to the term HaMachazir in the bracha of HaMachazir Shechinaso L’Tzion.  In both cases, we are asking Hashem to bring something back to where it was originally.  In our Bracha, we acknowledge that we have distanced ourselves from Hashem through sin--and that Teshuvah will bring us back--close to Hashem--to where we were before the chait.  Indeed, the Mabit writes that Teshuvah means: ‘Kreiva LeHashem Mei'richuk Hachait--coming closer to Hashem after having been distanced because of a sin.  Moreover, we do not ask that Hashem assist us with minimal Teshuvah--which one may do simply to free himself of punishment--but rather we ask Hashem to help us with Teshuvah Shleimah--which is Teshuvah so complete that he will not fall backwards again.  This level of Teshuvah reaches the category of 'Lefanecha'--i.e., a Teshuvah in which Hashem Himself can testify that a person will not revert to his previous sins.  Today’s phrase is especially powerful for us, for Chazal teach:  Habah L’Taheir MeSayin Oso--of one wants to purify himself, he is assisted in doing so.”  With these words of VeHachzireinu BiShuvah Shleimah Lefanecha recited sincerely and meaningfully, we are exclaiming:  We want to purify ourselves!”  Hakhel Note:  Rabbosai--Kavannah!




We conclude the Bracha with the words:  Baruch Atta Hashem HaRotzeh BisShuvah”.  HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita, notes that we do not conclude the bracha with the term HaMachazir  BisShuvah (Who brings us back in Teshuvah), which is the phrase immediately preceding the conclusion of the Bracha (VeHachzirein BisShuvah) because Teshuvah has to begin with us.  It is indeed for this reason, he continues, that Teshuvah and Selichah are two different brachos--as we must first accomplish repentance, and only afterwards can we be forgiven and avoid punishment.  Hashem is thus urging us to begin--so that he can help us through and complete the process.  If Hashem wants us to do Teshuvah--should we not have a Hirhur Teshuvah in the same way?!  With each undertaking to do Teshuvah in a particular Mitzvah, Middah, or in the avoidance of a particular Aveirah--we are not only bringing Nachas to ourselves forever--but to HaKadosh Baruch Hu Himself for eternity as well-after all, this is the only time in all of Shemone Esrei that we find what Hashem wants!  Let’s get going!  Hakhel Note:  With the Bracha of Teshuvah, we have a wonderful opportunity, three times a day, of accomplishing our life-giving mantra:  Teshuvah BeChol Yom!




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