Thursday, October 2, 2014

Yom Kipur

We are approaching the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur. Let us reflect a bit on the day preceding Yom Kippur and Yom Kippur itself.

Our sages teach us that on Erev Yom Kippur (9th of Tishrei) we are obligated to eat and drink more than the norm. It is therefore forbidden to fast on this day. It is known that the Berdichev Rebbe, Reb Levi Yitzchok once began searching under the tables on the night of Yom Kippur after the evening prayers of Kol Nidrei. When a bystander offered the Rebbe help in the search, he asked, did you notice any drunkards under the table or anywhere in the territory of the shul ? No! of course not, replied the bystander. Reb Levi Yitzchok lifted his eyes to Heaven and said "show me another nation, that after a day of eating and drinking (festively), they look like this.

The Anaf Yosef commentary on Talmud suggests the reason for this mitzvah is, that people should be in a festive spirit and that makes it more likely that they'll forgive one another. While one is hungry and fasting it's less likely to be lenient and soft with each other. We know that Hashem does not forgive wrongdoing that a person committed to his/her fellow person until one asks forgiveness. Therefore it is the ideal time to eat and drink and thereby forgive each other accordingly.

Yom Kippur 
This is the day we are granted the opportunity to become closer to Hashem with less effort than the average day. Reb Shmelka of Nikolshburg offered the following parable: a king appointed one of his close advisors to educate his only son. He would spend a lot of time trying to teach him and guide him, however the son became uninterested and began misbehaving terribly. The kings confidant, reported to the king that his son was not behaving properly and was involved in mischief... The king sent his son away from the palace and forbade him to come see him. The son made several attempts to apologize and appease his father, but every time he sent a message to the king this former teacher would slander him and tell the king all the terrible things he did. Obviously the king refused to accept the apologies. One day the son got word of the fact that his former teacher was leaving town, so he decided to seize the opportunity, and apologize to the king. Naturally the King accepted his apology and let him back in to his palace.

Our sages teach us that one day a year Satan has no right to slander and prosecute Jews, on Yom Kippur. In fact the word hasatan has the numerical value of 364 for he has one day off. On this day with the right approach we can be brought back close to the King of the Universe.

Let us seize the opportunity, and merit a year full of spiritual and material growth in good health and spirit.

Gmar Chasima Tova!

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