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Yom Kippur 5776 - A Time for Introspection

 

The Sefer Divrei Emuna relates, that one Rosh Hashona evening, the Chofetz Chaim approached a group of people who were talking casually and enjoying their conversation, and asked them: “Is your joy because Hashem wants us to be joyous on Rosh Hashana?”

I will explain this with a parable:

A Yeshiva student’s mother had passed away and his teachers were afraid to break the news to him. But they had to notify him, so he could fulfill his obligation to mourn and recite kaddish.

The teachers knew that this student, who was poor, had written home that his clothes were ragged and he desperately needed a new suit, but received no answer. So the teacher’s bought him a new set of clothes to help soften the blow of his mother’s passing.

They presented the boy with a new suit, and put a note into the pocket informing him of his mothers’ passing. The student was overjoyed but was puzzled why his Rabbis seemed sad and were crying. When the boy reached into the pocket and saw the note, he understood everything.

Similarly, Hashem wants us to rejoice, to help us withstand the verdict we receive on Rosh Hashana. This may be why we feast on the day before Yom Kippur. We must strengthen ourselves to withstand the weakening of the fast and the fear of the Day of Judgment.

What can help us at this time?  We must cry out to Hashem with sincere, genuine tears from the depths of our heart, and ask forgiveness. “For on this day he will forgive...”  The first letters of these four Hebrew words can be transposed to read 
bechiah - we can merit forgiveness through the tears of repentance.

It is now appropriate to relate the famous parable by the Yismach Moshe. People once sinned against their king and were summoned to court for judgment. One person suggested that the best way to the kingt’s heart is to present him with his favorite drink.

Our prayerful tears, are the “liquid” that Hashem most appreciates. The tears we shed, help forgive our sins.

In the Erev Yom Kippur prayers we say: ‘The exiled children have have come to take cover in your shade.’ It is stated by the Yismach Moshe, that before Kol Nidrei, even the deceased souls that are no longer in this world come to shul crying out, “Plead for mercy for us, and beg for salvation for yourselves.”

Many people come to shul after abandoning Yiddishkeit for an entire year. But their holy spark is ignited on Yom Kippur.  It is like a father, whose children were taken away from him. After being away for a long period of time, the children forgot about their father, and no longer cared to return to him. But the father made every effort to draw them back, by sending messengers to reawaken their feelings.

We beseech Hashem, that He should draw close the hearts of all those who have strayed, and are now entering the shul, that they be aroused to do His Will and cease from all transgression.

How great is the pain in the heart of a mother who looks into the shul expecting to see her children davening - only to find that they are not  there.  The Divine Presence, too, finds no consolation because of all the lost Jewish souls as it says ‘Rachel cries out for her children...’, alluding to the Divine Presence which cries for the ‘lost children,’ the people who did not return to our ‘Father in Heaven’ even on Yom Kippur.

An additional thought: Even a person who considers himself a most respectable, Torah abiding and upright Jew, can find room for repentance before Kol Nidrei. With deep introspection, one can realize that his conduct may be lacking and is not as perfect as it could be. His actions may not have been fully for the sake of Heaven.  May he, too, repent on his level and rise higher in the service of Hashem.

“For on this day He forgives  you, so that you will be purified...” Sincere tears can expiate all sins. The first letters of the Hebrew words "Letaher Aleichem" equal the numerical value of S"M (Samach Mem), indicating that on Yom Kippur we can cleanse ourselves from the evil inclination.

However, one must realize that atonement on Yom Kippur is not granted for sins between man and man, until we directly ask their forgiveness. May everyone forgive each other whole-heartedly. (I also ask that anyone whom I may have caused pain or have unwillingly wronged should forgive me.)

This is also a reason why we take out the Torah Scrolls before Kol Nidrei. We ask forgiveness from the Holy Torah, as in the verse, ‘My eyes flow with tears because I did not keep the Torah correctly.’

(When the Rebbe began circling the Bima with the Sefer Torah, the Rebbe stopped at the childrens' section).
“Pure and innocent children! We have just entered the Holiest Day of the year. Each of us must repent and ask Hashem for forgiveness. Evil angels are created from our sins, and today, at the Great Judgment, these evil angels try to throw us a ‘bad note’, a harsh decree, as in the previously mentioned parable of the teachers who placed the ‘bad note’ in the student’s suit pocket.  We must do our utmost to be worthy of a good year.

How many sick patients are suffering in hospitals, and how many have already died. Children! Ask Hashem to end all tragedies. Plead for an easy livelihood for your parents. It is very painful for a father not to be able to afford tuition for your Torah study.

We pray that ‘the harsh decrees should be torn’. If the decree is ‘no livelihood’, then the word ‘no’ should be torn off, leaving only the blessing of livelihood.  If the decree states ‘no life,’ the word ‘no’ should be removed, remaining with the blessing of life.  Let all the evil decrees be torn off, allowing only the blessings to remain.

“Rivulets of tears flow from my eyes,” when we see the lack of our merits as compared to the righteous people of previous generations.  Our only remaining strength is the Torah itself; that it plead for us at the Heavenly throne. May Hashem have mercy on us and receive our prayers for a year of  peace, and joy.

This Weeks Divrei Torah is dedicated in honor of:
Shmuel ben Chaim
Feinberg A"H
5708-5769 9 Shvat

This Weeks Divrei Torah is dedicated in honor of:

 
 
 
 
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