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i-Attach-Amidah-Elul Kavanot-Forgiveness

The Rimanover found some Chassidim heavily immersed in drink. They did not recognize him as a famed tzaddik and believed him to be an ordinary Chassid. “Why do you drink so much?” He asked them, “you will be unable to offer prayers properly.” They answered him, “Our tzaddik will gain forgiveness for us even if we mumble our prayers.”


The Rimanover then revealed his identity, and said, “Let me share with you a parable which I am accustomed to narrate at the Seder. A bear was seen in the woods near a village. The woodsman was notified. He first went to the local tavern for a drink, and not having money, he asked that the cost of the drinks be charged against his account. ‘When I shoot the bear, his skin will bring me a substantial sum, and I will then pay you,’ boasted the forester. Being intoxicated, however, he missed his aim, and the bear turned on him. The man lay down on the ground and pretended to be dead. The bear sniffed at his face and finally walked away.

“When the innkeeper had an opportunity to speak to the woodsman, he asked, ‘ What did the bear whisper in your ear?’ The man answered, ‘ He told me not to charge up drinks against his skin before I had killed him.’

“I say the same thing to you,” continued the Rimanover to the Chassidim, “do not charge up your drinks against the tzaddik, before you are assured that he will intercede for you (Dor Dei’ah, pages 217–8).”

Although we are taught to approach Rosh Hashanah with confidence that God will forgive us, it is worthwhile to remember that it is unwise to charge our drinks to Him, before we are fully assured that we will be forgiven. Use the blessing of Forgiveness to express confidence that God will forgive us, and to clarify that we do not use this assumption of forgiveness to allow ourselves to shed responsibility for our actions.

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