MidrESHET Hayil

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Yom Kippur Message

Yom Kippur 5773

In New York:
Fast begins by 6:20pm (with the conclusion of Seudat HaMafseket)
Hadlakat Nerot at 6:28pm
**There is a very big merit to daven for your children and give them Berakhot tonight by the candles on Erev Yom Kippur
Fast ends 7:26pm
Rabbenu Tam 7:57pm

Some reminders:

All work that is forbidden on Shabbat is forbidden on Yom Kippur. 

The prohibitions specific to Yom Kippur are:

a) eating and drinking

b) washing the body

c) application of ointments

d) wearing leather shoes

e) marital relations.


May our Teshuvah and Tefillah be completely accepted by HaKadosh Barukh Hu leTovah uBerakhah!


Yom Kippur 5773

Tizku leShanim Rabot Ne'imot veTovot!

Barukh HaShem we are now in the process of transitioning from Rosh HaShanah to Yom Kippur. On Rosh HaShanah, we accept HaShem's reign over us as King, and on Yom Kippur we ask for our sins to be pardoned, as is tradition when a new king is coronated, so that we can recommit to Him on a level closer than a king's subjects. I dare to say that on Yom Kippur we go from being the King's subject to being the King's wife….if we are worthy. On Rosh HaShanah we are betrothed to HaShem and on Yom Kippur we marry Him. (Consequently, Sukkot is our Sheva Berakhot….)

                Many people treat their wedding day like Yom Kippur. We all wear white, Ashkenazim fast, it is a day where the Hattan and Kallah have all their averot pardoned, they are in a state of purity. But how many people treat Yom Kippur like their wedding day? Sure, many of us fast, and sure, we all say the right things and bow when we're supposed to….But how do we feel on this day? What are we actually thinking about on Yom Kippur?

                If Yom Kippur is like our wedding day, then on this day we relate to HaKadosh Barukh Hu as our Hattan and we are His Kallah. We are no longer subjects in a kingdom who have to have their books clear so they won't be executed, we are now given the opportunity to become the Queen, we are given the opportunity to establish a stronger bond with HaShem. To do so requires tremendous inner work—after all, the King doesn't marry just anybody. And so, on Yom Kippur it's no longer about clearing our offenses and not having sinned, it's all about becoming a better and more elevated person, a person worthy of being the King's wife.  It's no longer about fending for ourselves, it's about building a relationship with our beloved Hattan.

Rabbi Lander shelit''a explains to us that there are two elements to Yom Kippur--Kapparah (pardon) and Taharah (purification). Kapparah is getting through the radar, just making it, starting with a clean slate. Taharah is of a whole other dimension. Taharah is purifying oneself, becoming a different person, a better person, it's not an account of actions—it's a mindset, a lifestyle.

At this point, even though our accounts may technically be cleared, are we as people purified? Are we a changed person?  Yom Kippur is not only about replacing each sin we did with a Missvah, it is not a system of withdrawals and deposits. It is not that we just 'cleared our debts'; we're building up-not an account- but our credit.It is a cleansing of the self. Teshuvah has the power of an intrinsic change in the human, not just the extrinsic concept of reward and punishment.

On Yom Kippur we ask to be forgiven for sins we did by coercion, sins we were forced to do. Why should I have to ask forgiveness for something I didn't even choose to do? It's true that I did it, but I didn't really do it! We are not legally held accountable for these things! Why is it considered a sin? BECAUSE YOM KIPPUR IS NOT ONLY ABOUT A LEGAL CLEARING, IT IS ABOUT THE PURIFICATION OF THE SELF, ABOUT TAHARAH. Although we do not pay legally for these actions, we are spiritually damaged by them and must beg forgiveness.

We can better internalize this concept with a powerful story. There is a story of a rebellious boy who did not respect his parents at all, HaShem Yerahem. One day he began to understand the severity of his behavior and expressed remorse for his actions. He was instructed that every time he disrespects his parents, he should hammer a nail into the wall. And so he did. One nail, two nails, three nails, forty nails….Until he began to feel terrible and wished to change. He told himself, every time I do something positive for my parents, I will take a nail out. Finally, after some time and some deep Teshuvah, this boy is able to pull every nail out of the wall. He is elated with joy, 'Look! I restored the harm I caused my parents. I fixed the problem. Good as new!' His elders told him, 'Look again my son, for the holes you have created in the wall still remain'. Even though this boy cleared his account, there was still an effect his actions caused that could not be repaired. The damage was done. The only way to fix this wall is to replace it completely, to CHANGE it. And so, this is how we stand at Yom Kippur. Maybe we have cleared our account balance, but have we really purified ourselves? Do we still have residual 'holes' in our Neshamah? On Yom Kippur, not only do we pray for Kapparah, to be pardoned, but we also pray for Tehara; 'Lifnei HaShem Tit'haru', you will be purified before HaShem. This Taharah is what makes us worthy to marry the King.

                A king can have a conversation with someone who hasn't done anything terribly wrong against him, but he can only have a deep relationship with someone who he sees is pure. Fortunately, our King is so loving and so merciful that He is helping us every step of the way to attain this state of Taharah. He wants us to become close to Him, we have to realize that. He wants to have a relationship with us. HaKadosh Barukh Hu wants us to be His Kallah. Us! Yes, us! This takes some effort on our part, but HaShem is more than willing to help if He sees that we want to have such a loving relationship with Him. Yom Kippur is a day where we are filled with immense fear because our fates will be sealed, but do we realize that it is the day of the year where HaKadosh Barukh Hu has the most Rahamim. Take advantage of this. It is you and HaShem under the Huppah so to speak. What a beautiful moment!

                This is the time we are closest to HaShem. The apex of the year is Yom Kippur. The apex of the day is Neilah, the fifth and final Tefillah service of this immensely holy day. This means the high point of the entire year is the moment of Neilah. To me, Neilah is like the Yihoud room between us and HaShem after the Huppah. We can speak with Him even more privately and bond with Him. We can share with Him our aspirations and desires, our Tefillot. We can love each other in such a pure and natural way. This is our last chance of the day to express how we feel, because after this intense moment, the Hattan and Kallah must separate to attend to their Simhah with the rest of the world, and we can only meet again personally next year….

                Be'ezrat HaShem Yitbarakh, may we be zokhim to be granted a full Kapparah, and ever more so, so become completely Tahor, pure. May we deepen our relationship with HaKadosh Barukh Hu to the point that we can feel that we are His Kallah. May we realize that this entails starting a new life as does a Hattan with his Kallah, and being involved in part of a relationship. May we develop the most intimate relationship with the Ribono Shel Olam and may we always love Him truly and immensely. In this merit, may we attain personal zekhouyot and Berakhot on the level of a Kallah and not a king's subject or slave. May we all be personally written and sealed in the Sefer Hayim Tovim, for a year filled with Berakhah, Simhah, and Hasslahah Rabah. May HaKadosh Barukh Hu answer all of our Tefillot leTovah uleBerakhah! After all, we are His beloved Kallah….


Gemar Hatimah Tovah to you, your families and all of Kelal Yisrael!

Make Your Neshamah Fly!

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