Chapter 6: Aseres Yimei Teshuvah-Summary

Chapter 6: Aseres Yimei Teshuvah

1.    Ten Days of Repentance:

  • The fast of Gedalia: The day after Rosh Hashanah is a public fast day [called Tzom Gedalia].
  • Introspection: During the period of Aseres Yimei Teshuvah every person is to perform an accounting and introspection of his actions [Cheshbon Hanefesh] and repent from his ways. [One is to spend some time in seclusion each day contemplating his good and bad traits and devising a plan in bettering himself.]
  • The auspiciousness of Teshuvah during these days: Even though Teshuvah is accepted by Hashem throughout the year, during the Aseres Yimei Teshuvah between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur ones Teshuvah is of better quality and is immediately accepted before G-d, as it says in the verse “Search Hashem when He is found, call to Him when He is close.” [The Teshuvah of these days comes from a deeper source within the soul, and is hence more graciously accepted Above.]
  • Like Chol Hamoed: The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are considered like Chol Hamoed. They are thus forbidden in Melacha and one may only learn Torah, repent and seclude himself during this time.
  • Each day is Mitaken the day of that week for the previous year: The repentance performed on each day of Aseres Yimei Teshuvah rectifies the day of the week it corresponds to throughout the past year. It also refines every weekday of that coming year.
  • Sifrei Mussar and Chassidus: One is to spend his time especially during these days learning subjects that discuss betterment of one’s character and spirit. The Rosh states that one is to learn the Sefer Igeres Hateshuvah of Rabbeinu Yonah. Others state one is to learn Sefer Hayashar of Rabbeinu Tam.
  • The roots of sin: The Kabalists write that the roots of all sins are Gaavah, depression and forbidden speech.
  • Matters that require amending: One is to especially fix those matters that people stumble on constantly and don’t give any heed that they involve a sin. These include: Arayos [Forbidden contact or speech with another woman]; Stealing, which includes withholding payment from a worker. Lashon Hara, which includes all derogatory speech about his friend, even if true. Prayer, to add in concentration. Shabbos, to keep all the detailed laws and guard one’s mouth from speech forbidden on Shabbos. To set times for Torah study.
  • Bli Neder: All new resolutions are to be taken upon oneself without making a vow. Thus, one is to state that he is resolving to do it “Bli Neder”.
  • Diminishing words of speech: Throughout Aseres Yimei Teshuvah the Rebbe Rashab would speak very little.
  • Court proceedings during Aseres Yimei Teshuvah: A Cherem is not proclaimed during the days between R”H and Yom Kippur. Likewise, a court does not swear a defendant during these days. However, to have court proceedings between two people certainly is a great Mitzvah as by doing so one removes the stolen item from the perpetrator, and when one does judgment below there is no judgment above. If however a swear must be imposed between them then the court case is to be delayed until after Yom Kippur.
  • Pas Yisrael: During the ten days of repentance one should be particular to only eat Pas Yisrael [bread baked by a Jew], even if his custom is to be lenient in eating it throughout the rest of the year. However, all the allowances that apply during the year apply likewise during these ten days.
  • Although fasting during Aseres Yimei Teshuvah is an act of piety nevertheless the main Tikkun during these days is actually fulfilled through eating. The fasting is only done due to the requirement to achieve atonement for sin. It is therefore written in Sefarim that one must eat bread every night of Aseres Yimei Teshuvah in order to recite the blessing of Birchas Hamazon.
  • Charity: It is accustomed amongst all Jewry to increase in charity, good deeds and to involve oneself in Mitzvos throughout the days between R”H and Yom Kippur.
  • Tehillim: One may say Tehillim at night during Aseres Yimei Teshuvah.
  • Buying a set of Lulav and Esrog: Some write that one is to try to purchase a set of Daled Minim during Aseres Yimei Teshuvah in order to add in merits for the day of Yom Kippur and have these merits overturn the judgment. Others however write that one is specifically to buy the Esrog after Yom Kippur as the tears of Yom Kippur clean the blemishes of the Esrog.
  • Weddings: The custom is to avoid making weddings of a 1st marriage between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. However, a 2nd marriage may be made during these days. In a time of need a couple may marry even a 1st marriage during this time.
  • Vav Tishreiy: The 6th of Tishreiy is the day of the passing of the Rebbe’s mother. She passed away in 1965.

2.   The prayers of Aseres Yimei Teshuvah:

  • Increase in prayer: Throughout the days between R”H and Yom Kippur one should increase in prayer and supplication.
  • Selichos: The widespread custom is to recite Selichos every day between R”H and Yom Kippur, with exception to Shabbos. [However, the Chabad custom is to not to say Selichos during Aseres Yimei Teshuva with exception to Tzom Gedalia in which the typical fast day Selichos is recited.]
  • Shir Hamaalos: One recites the psalm of Shir Hamaalos Mimamakim between Yishtabach and Barchu throughout the ten days of repentance.
  • Shemoneh Esrei: In Shemoneh Esrei one must remember to add the following statements: Zachreinu; Mi Kamocha; Hamelech Hakadosh; Hamelech Hamishpat; Ukesov; Ubesefer; Oseh Hashalom.
  • Changes in Kaddish: At the conclusion of Kaddish one says “Oseh Hashalom” in place of “Oseh Shalom”.
  • Avinu Malkeinu: It is accustomed to reciting Avinu Malkeinu [each day after the Shemoneh Esrei] in the morning [by Shacharis] and in the evening [by Mincha]. [The custom is to open the ark prior to its recital. The custom is to stand during its recital. The Chabad custom is to recite it in middle of Tachanun, prior to the words Veanachnu Lo Neida. One continues straight to Veanchnu Lo Neida after Avinu Malkeinu and omits the short Avinu Malkeinu prayer normally recited prior to Veanachnu Lo Neida.] Avinu Malkeinu is omitted by Mincha of Erev Shabbos Shuva.
  • Bris or Chasan: If a Bris is taking place during the days between R”H and Yom Kippur [or a Chasan is present] then Tachanun [Lamnatzeiach and Keil Erech Apayim] is omitted [in that Shul] although Avinu Malkeinu is recited. [Although there were years that the Rebbe omitted Avinu Malkeinu during Aseres Yimei Teshuvah if a Chasan was present, in other years he recited it.]



3.   Shabbos Shuva [Teshuvah]:    

  • Lighting a Teshuvah candle: On the eve of Shabbos Teshuvah it is customary in the Rebbe’s household to kindle [a twenty-four-hour candle which is known as] a “Teshuvah light”. [The Rebbe once stated that it is the Chabad custom to light three Teshuvah candles on Erev Shabbos Teshuvah.]
  • Good resolutions: On Shabbos Shuva one is to take upon himself good resolutions in all matters of Torah, Avoda, and Gemilas Chasadim. Gemilas Chasadim can be performed also on Shabbos by accepting guests with joy.
  • Being extra careful in the laws of Shabbos: On this Shabbos extra care must be taken not to transgress any of the Shabbos laws. This especially applies to the laws of Amira Lenachri of which unfortunately many give a lenient hand towards it.
  • The meal: During the Shabbos meals, after Hamotzi, one dips the Challah in honey. Nevertheless, one should also have salt on the table. See the section on Rosh Hashanah Chapter 2 Halacha 5 for the full details of this matter!
  • The Davening: On Shabbos Teshuvah the Chazan inserts in the blessing of Meiyn Sheva, recited [after Shemoneh Esrei of Maariv] on Friday night, the words “Hamelech Hakadosh”. [Likewise, when the congregation customarily recites the paragraph of Magen Avos they say the words Hamelech Hakadosh in place of Hakeil Hakadosh.] The Chazan however concludes the blessing only with the words of Shabbos [Mikadeish Hashabbos].
  • The Haftorah of Shuva Yisrael is read this Shabbos. The Chabad custom slightly varies from the custom of the world regarding where to end the Haftorah.
  • By Mincha of Shabbos Shuvah the paragraph of Tzidkascha Tzedek is recited as usual. [This applies even Erev Yom Kippur falls on Sunday.]
  • When Yom Kippur falls on a weekday, including if it falls on Erev Shabbos, the entire prayer of Vayehi Noam is customarily omitted on the Motzei Shabbos directly prior to the Holiday. If however the Holiday [or Yom Kippur] falls on Shabbos, Vayehi Noam is recited the previous Motzei Shabbos.
  • The Drasha/speech of Shabbos Shuva: It is customary for the Rabbi to expound on the laws of the Holiday of Sukkos [and Yom Kippur] on the Shabbos prior to Yom Kippur, which is called Shabbos Shuva. The main purpose of this speech is to expound and teach the people the ways of G-d and what must be done [on the holiday], unlike the custom today [that the speech surrounds other topics].
  • Kiddush Levana: The custom is to delay saying Kiddush Levana until Motzei Yom Kippur.

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