Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Yom Kippur 5770- as the time approaches

So, its erev Yom Kippur, I’ve come back from Mikveh and I’m sweating over the drosha’s I will have to give, all three of them!  so, while organising my thoughts I will put at leats one of those droshas down here.

In sefer Darchei Mussar Rabbi Neeman brings the following idea” al cheit shechatanu lefenechah – for the sins we sinned before you.  Where does he place the emphasis?  For the sins we sinned before YOU.  The first step to being able to repent is a realisation that we are standing before G-d.  If we do not have this realisation, if we cannot understand the import of needing to put ourselves before G-d, that everything is found before G-d, then we are guilty of one sin- fleeing from G-d.  He compares this to a soldier- he gets minor punihsments for small things- for untied shoes, for his uniform being messy, for not marching properly.  However, if he flees from the army he recieves a major punishment- if it is in battle, there are many time sin history when desertion in the face of the enemy was punihsable by death! 

Similarly for us;  if we realise we stand before G-d, that we are in his presence, their is space for us to be forgiven for our sins, we can get all the inor punishments many of which will be overlooked since, just as the hero of a battle will often be excused for minor infractions- so G-d can forgive us when we lose minor skirishes with the yetzer hara if we make sure that over all we are winning the battle.  However, if we flee from the presence of G-d, if we cannot understand and acknowledge that he is the king of kings and that we stand before him, then like the soldier going awol or deserting, we will receive a major punishment – an dall the minor infractions we have will be added on top of that.

This idea raises the centrality of what Teshuvah is about.  Primarily, teshuvah is about taking responsibility- realising that we have damaged the relationship between ourselves and G-d through our actions and thus have to repair that relationship.  Part of the taking of responsibility is realising that we are not beholden only to ourselves, but that we have a master, G-d, the King of kings, who has a right to demand certain behaviour from us.  Just as the solider has his masters in the army that can dictate how he dresses, how he sleeps, where he sleeps, what he eats etc- so is G-d our master who has the right to tell us how to behave.  Thus, we have to take the responsibility to recognise that his rules are just, that hjis ways are jsut, and that his judgements are just- and that if we have failed to live up to them, he has the right to enact the consequences of those actions on us!

However, as it is brought in Midrash Bereshis Rabbah, the world wasfirst to be  created with the strict divine attribute of Malkhut, justice.  However, G-d realised that the world could not survive if the attirbute of Malkhut was strictly applied, and thus the attribute of Rachamim, mercy, was applied to the creation of the world.  It is for this reason we rejoice when it comes to Yom Kippur- for though it is solemn and we are having our fates sealed, we have are being judged in this world with the attribute of Rachami.  We have an oppotunity to do Teshuvah, and to be forgiven with ease since rachamim rules over the strictness of malkhut in this world.  However, when we die and our neshamah stands before the Kisei HaKavod and is judged for all those things we did not do teshuvah shleimah for in this world- the strict attribute of Malkhut is used!  Thus, Yom Kippur is a day showing the love of Hashem, a day in which hashen gives us an opportunity to repent in this world and to achieve teshuvah without strict justice being applied!


A g’mar chatimah tovah l’kol


Note:  As always, comments, discussions and corrections are welcomed.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | Chagim, Other Torah, Torah | , , , | 1 Comment