The holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur is approaching and we are all preparing to be cleansed and merit an inscription and a seal in the book of Life.
On the day preceding Yom Kippur there's a special mitzvah to eat and drink more than usual. This is derived from a phrase in Torah Vayikra 23/32, you shall afflict your souls on the ninth day in the evening. The Talmud asks is the fast on the ninth ? It is on the tenth that we fast. Says the Talmud (Rosh Hashono 9a), "this is to teach us, that if one eats and drinks on the ninth it will be considered as he fasted both days". The question we still have, why is it that the Torah tells us that it is a mitzvah to eat, with this type of language (affliction), why not say, eat and drink ? I would to share with you two approaches to explain this.
The Torah wants to teach us how to fulfill this mitzvah. One can eat like a Jew with proper ethic and thought and one can eat and his whole mind and soul is in the plate. The Torah wants to tell you that when fulfilling this mitzvah, your mind should be on the mitzvah and not engulfed in the food, just as if you were fasting.
There's another approach. We know that when one does a mitzvah and he toils for it and it comes with great difficulty, the reward is much greater. This is why the Torah tells us that if one eats and drinks on the ninth it will be considered as if he fasted, so that we should know that the reward will be greater than just fulfilling an easy mitzvah, but rather it will be rewarded like a mitzvah that came with hardship.
The holy Berdichev Rebbe once walked in to Kol Nidrei (opening prayer of Yom Kippur), and began searching under the tables and benches. No one understood what he was searching for. He then lifted his head to the Heavens and said "Holy L-rd! You commanded the Jewish people to eat and drink today, I don't see even one drunk person in this synagogue. Imagine if other nations had been given this mitzvah. This was his way of defending Klal Yisroel.
In closing, I'd like to ask all, if I offended anyone, please be kind enough and forgive me, and I'm sure G-d will do the same.
May we merit to be sealed in the book of Life, for a sweet year, with spiritual and material growth in good health with nachas and happiness.
Gmar Chasima Tova,