Weekly Thought:

Friday, 17 September, 2010 - 1:40 am

By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

Two Halachic Clarifications concerning Yom Kippur

1. While it is true that a fellow Chosid that pardons, automatically, all those who offend him, and you just need to be humble before him and be good to him. Nevertheless, according to Shulchan Aruch the bottom line is that we must be certain that anyone we have upset throughout the year pardons in truth. So while it is true that Chosid pardons in general, we need to be certain that it is true in this particular case as well and ask for forgiveness before Yom Kippur.

2. Recently it has become that some people, who for various reasons are not feeling well, have concluded that it is acceptable to eat some food in amounts less than a kazayis so that they will feel well enough to attend shul for Yom Kippur. Please be aware that Yom Kippur is stricter than Tisha B’Av in this regard. It is better to stay at home in bed and not eat than to come to shul and eat even less than a kazayis. Even nursing and pregnant women need to fast on Yom Kippur. The only leniencies available are for the very ill with the guidance of a Rav even if you were given permission to eat on Tisha B’Av you need to ask again for Yom Kippur. 

Yom Kippur

There is a story about the Previous Rebbe that took place on the day after Yom Kippur. He asked his father the Rebbe Rashab about the proper way to serve Hashem, what was next, after having completed the avodah of Yom Kippur. The Rebbe Rashab’s answer was to start to do Teshuva. This answer needs to be understood. How can it be that one day after Yom Kippur, the day that we were surely forgiven for our sins that we first begin the process of Teshuva? Even Baba ben Buta who would bring a Korban Asham (known as an Asham Talui) every day for any sin he may have unwittingly committed, would take a break on the day after Yom Kippur and not bring a Karbon! How do we understand the concept of Teshuva the day after Yom Kippur?

There is another question regarding Yom Kippur. Throughout the day we repeat “Al Cheit” many times at the end of each tefilla. What is the purpose of it’s repetition so many times?

The Rebbe explains that avodah during the 26 hours of Yom Kippur includes five tefillos. These five tefillos correspond to the five levels of the neshama, Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya and Yechida in an ascending fashion throughout the day. As we elevate from one level to the next we become increasingly refined. If we were forgiven on Yom Kippur night by Maariv, corresponding to Nefesh, as the day progresses we need to address a deeper and more subtle level of the neshama and come to a more complete teshuva. As the process deepens new things that could not arise previously come into focus. One could liken this to different types of cloth. There is thick cloth, a thin cloth, and a silk cloth. The more thin and refined the cloth, the more the stain is apparent. A stain that does not show up on thick cloth will show up on silk cloth. The more refined and developed state requires a higher level teshuva. This is why we repeat Al Cheit over again after each tefilla to ask for forgiveness for things needing teshuva that were not yet addressed that arise though becoming more connected to Hashem in tefilla.

When a person completes these five levels he can come to feel as if he has reached a peak in his avodas Hashem. When this feeling of “ich bin a fartiker Yid” I have become a complete Jew occurs, growth is curtailed. At the very point where growth and expansion stops, that very same place is where slipping can occur. This is the lesson in avodas Hashem the Rebbe Rashab taught. Completing the five levels of Yom Kippur now provides an opportunity, a platform for continued growth and even deeper service of Hashem.

While there is a very important spiritual side to Yom Kippur and we must focus fully upon it, still, we know that the action is the main thing. We must remind ourselves that through every action, every mitzvah, every word of Tehillim, Bracha and Pasuk Chumash, we connect with Hashem and draw Him down into this physical world. After Yom Kippur a voice from Shomayim proclaims “Go eat your food in joy because Hashem has accepted your service.” The avodah of Yom Kippur enables us to bring that deep connection and focus into all aspects of our daily lives.

Similarly , the first thing we were commanded to do by Hashem after Yom Kippur was to build a Mishkan, a home for Hashem. To bring Hashem into life and into the world is our greatest simcha, to make from our body, home, and workplace a Mishkan for Hashem.

Wishing you all a Chasima uGmar Chasima Tovah a good and a sweet year with abundance in all things both spiritual and physical, and the main thing, the geula amitis with Moshiach in the third Bais HaMikdash.

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