The Delight Of Yom Kippur By Rabbi Zvi Miller

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The  Prophet  Isaiah (58:5) admonished Klal Yisrael for being downhearted  on Yom Kippur – Is such gloom the fast that I have chosen?  Is the purpose of  the day for man to afflict his soul?  Is  it  to  bow down  his  head as  a  bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under his feet?

What is the criticism of Isaiah? Yom Kippur is a time of judgment, fasting, and repentance. Isn’t the focus of the day to reflect on one’s misdeeds and shortcomings-and to feel a sense of despair?

In the next passage (58:6) Isaiah explains what should take place on Yom Kippur-Isn’t the purpose of this fast that I have chosen to loosen fetters of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?

Yom Kippur is a time of  liberation.  It provides us with the opportunity to extricate ourselves from negativity and selfishness. If we open our hearts to the power of  Yom Kippur and fill our souls with goodness and kindness – Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your healing shall quickly spring forth (58:8).

The Torah deliberately writes (Vayikra 23:32) that Yom Kippur takes place on the ninth of Tishrei,even though the actual date of observance is the tenth of  Tishrei.  By associating the previous day, i.e. the ninth, to Yom Kippur, the Torah is telling us that anyone who partakes of a festive meal on the ninth is considered as if he fasted on both the ninth and the tenth.

In the same spirit of the Prophet, this verse teaches that Yom Kippur is a time of  joy and celebration – for there is no greater happiness than forgiveness and redemption.

The purpose of  avodas Hashem and repentanceis true joy and delight.  Although certain aspects of our observance evoke remorse-this is the means and not the end.  Through proper appreciation and fulfillment of the Yom Kippur procedure-our spirits are cleansed, our souls elevated, and our hearts filled with delight. (based on Ohr HaZafon of Rav Nosson Zvi Finkel)

Today: Envision the “sun” of  Yom Kippur shining upon you and healing your soul.

Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Zvi Miller and the Salant Foundation




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