Monday, September 21, 2015

Yom Kippur Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman

We have now ushered in a new Jewish year, having taken on new resolutions and goals with which to enhance our lives, spiritually and meaningfully. Cheder Chabad of Monsey hopes that these Torah thoughts will help inspire to achieve those goals.

The entire  Cheder Chabad of Monsey family, wish you and your dear ones a year replete with goodness, prosperity and good health. As the High Priest blessed the Jewish people on Yom Kippur in the Holy Temple, may we too all be blessed from A to Z with…Abundance, Bounty, Caring, Devotion…and everything good in between, until we reach… Zion, May all Israel be redeemed in peace, speedily in our days.

This Perspective is dedicated by Mr. Binyomin Philipson in memory of his late mother
Mrs. Ellen (Elka bas Zisel) Philipson OBM

Stand in front of a full length mirror and take a good look at yourself. You may notice the style or color of your clothes, the five pounds you recently gained or lost, that you’re having a particularly good or bad hair day, or the wrinkles that are slowly forming around your eyes.

But none of that, of course, is the real you.

We all have layers that cover up the “real me.” There’s the image that we want to present to the world, the talents and traits we want others to recognize. And then there’s even the image that we want to project to ourselves, those layers that hide and distract from our core inner selves.

But there is one day of the year that can peel through these layers to discover our core essence. That day is Yom Kippur.

The Hebrew letters of the word for HaSatan, the Satan, has a numerical equivalent of 364. In Jewish theology, Satan isn’t some imaginary devious devil, but refers rather to the many forces and voices that distract us, tempt us and alienate us from listening to our real inner selves. The Satan has power over us for 364 days of the year. But on the 365th day, on the holy day of Yom Kippur, we can reach a level of self-awareness and oneness. On this day, outer temptations, diversions, dichotomies, fragmentations, enticements - and whatever blocks our inner voice from being heard - do not have such a hold. These layers are stripped away as we finally come face to face with the potent power of our soul.

It may surface only for a moment, but in that moment, we regain our perspective and remember who we are.

As the day progresses, we approach the last prayer of the day, the Neilah, right at the close of Yom Kippur. As our stomachs grumble from being ignored all day - just as we’ve ignored all those other layers of distractions - we reach a crescendo of awareness.

Neilah means closing. On a simple level it is the time of day when Yom Kippur is about to end and the gates of heavens are about to “close”. But Chassidic teachings explain that at this moment of holiness, we are “closed in”, together with our Creator. G‑d is not closing the doors on us, but rather enclosing us in His arms and closing out the layers of distraction that we need to deal with in our day to day living. We are given the suffusion of energy to go back to that reality while seeing ourselves just a drop clearer - as a reflection of G‑d.

(Excerpts from Chabad.org - By Mrs. Chana Weisberg)

May you have a meaningful and Inspiring Yom Kippur!

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