Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: How Yom Kippur Can Work

At the s'udas mafsekes this year, my wife and I were having an appropriately light conversation in preparation for the day.  I was saying that I had just learned (michtav mei'eliahu, end of first volume), that really every moment of every life is necessary for HaShem's plan to reveal all dimensions of Kavod Shamayim.  Therefore, I continued, every moment of sinning is destroying worlds that need to be rebuild.  So how does Yom Kippur work?  Imagine Hitler, yimach sh'mo v'zicrhono, coming to a beis din and -- with full sincerity -- saying, "Ashamni, Bagadni, Gazalni, .."  How big and impression is that going to make?  Yet we are doing the same thing, aren't we?  (There are those who say, and I am among them, that living with me is more than sufficient kapara for anyone.  My wife, she should be strong and healthy for many years, has been living with my for a very long time... you can't even begin to imagine what a tzadeikes she is/must be.)

That's how we left things when I went to kol nidrei.  Don't worry, my wife has learned over the years to appropriately ignore me, but I haven't; I was still thinking about how does this really work .  After kol nidrei and before ma'ariv I had a few minutes, so I looked into my machzor.  My machzor (Machzor HaM'foresh) is a treasure trove of little nuggets from all over.  I opened to a medrash that said, "What is Yom Kippur like?  If a nut falls into a dirty street and get covered with filth, it can be washed, rinsed, and cleaned up to be fit again for consumption.  So to Yisrael, even though they are covered with sin, Yom Kippur cleanses them to be fit again to enjoy the Divine Presence."

Nice.  But a nut has an impenetrable, hard covering that protects it from the filth.  No matter how dirty it looks, the dirt is all external.  No matter how disgusting the filth, none of it touches the edible fruit.  The medrash must mean that we also have an impenetrable, hard shield that keep the filth of sin from touching who we really are.  A Jew can be covered with sin, but it is only external, it can be washed away.  HaShem, in His unbounded kindness, put us into a world of temptations to allow us to exercise our free will and thus forge a relationship with the Creator Himself.  But that's dangerous!  So at the same time, out us His unbounded love for us, He put us in a protective shield.  Once a year we come for a cleaning.  And every year we seem to need just as much cleansing as before (if not more).  We should try to do better.  But we can know with perfect certainty that Yom Kippur can and does work.

By they way... this should help us to also realize that every Jew, no matter how far away, can be reached.  A Jewish co-worked just walked by and I mentioned Sukkos.  "Hey... it might be fun for the kids to build a sukkah.", he mused.  I agreed with him... who knows...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…