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Torah for the Times

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TORAH FOR THE TIMES 
  
 
 
 
Torah Reading: Yom Kippur: Leviticus 16:1 - 34
Haftora: Isaiah 57:14 - 58:14
 
Shabbat/Yom Kippur Candle Lighting: 6:23 PM
Fast Ends: 7:20 PM 

 

B"H 

 
YOM KIPPUR
THE THREE QUESTIONS
 
The Preparation for Shabbos and Yom Kippur
This year Yom Kippur coincides with Shabbos. This is in addition to the fact that Yom Kippur itself is referred to in the Torah as Shabbos Shabboson, the Sabbath of Sabbaths.
It is axiomatic in Judaism that everything holy requires preparation; certainly, that is so for a day as holy as a Yom Kippur which coincides with Shabbos.
The Mishnah (Shabbos 34a) states:
“There are three things a man must say in his home on the eve of Shabbos just before dark:
Asartem-Have you tithed (separated a tenth of the produce that will be eaten during Shabbos);
Aravtem-Have you made an eiruv (a legal process through which one is permitted to carry within a common courtyard. This process has the capacity to render jointly owned property as one domain); and
Hadliku es Haner-Kindle the [Shabbos] light!’”  
 
A Chassidic Master, Sar Shalom of Belz, applied these three instructions to our preparation for Yom Kippur:
 “Asartem-Have you tithed” can be translated, “have you performed the ten?” This he interprets as have you successfully returned to G‑d during the Ten Days of Teshuvah?
“Aravtem-Have you made an eiruv” - Have you benefitted from the spiritual power of erev-the eve of Yom Kippur. 
[The day before Yom Kippur is also a holy day.  It is a Mitzvah to eat in preparation for Yom Kippur, and we are regarded as if we have fasted two days!]
“Hadliku es Haner” – Have you kindled the light of Yom Kippur?  

Engaged in “Ten”
One may expand this approach and give an expanded interpretation of the word for each of these three questions:
The first question: “have you tithed” can be interpreted to mean “have you engaged in ‘ten?’” Have you come to Yom Kippur with all the ten faculties of your soul? These ten faculties include all of our intellectual and emotional faculties, as well as our thoughts, speech and actions.
Or, perhaps, are you missing some of your faculties? Are you lacking a serious intellectual understanding of Judaism; are you content to remain at the kindergarten level of understanding?
Have you left your heart somewhere else and invested your passion in areas of life other than Judaism?
Have you developed skills in other areas of life but are a novice when it comes to Jewish skills?
While these questions are addressed to those who have scant knowledge and feeling for Judaism, they can also be addressed to the most advanced. Have they used all of their “brain power” to study and fathom the deeper meanings of Torah? Do they truly love G‑d with all their heart, soul and might? And are they as scrupulous with observance of the small but significant details of the Mitzvos, as they are with other important aspects of life?
 
What about Unity?
The second question: Have you created an eiruv (the legal procedure to render a semi-public/semi-private area into a private domain) and thereby united people who dwell in these areas? The word for eiruv, can also be rendered as intermingled, responsible and sweet.
Have you come to Yom Kippur as a loner, detached from the community, or do you approach this holy day with a sense of being a part of the unity of all Jews; how we are all responsible for each other because we are all connected, and each of us feels the sweetness of the other?
However, unity with others is facilitated when a person experiences inner unity and tranquility. The question therefore can be raised, have you coordinated and allowed all of your faculties to work in tandem? Or do your mind, heart and behavior go in different directions?
So many of us understand what is right and good for us, but fail to experience the proper emotions.
Similarly, we may have deep feelings for Torah and its commandments but we may still fail to translate these feelings into action.
This lack of unity gets in our way as we approach Yom Kippur.  These questions must be answered in the affirmative in order to gain the most from the Yom Kippur experience.
 
Souls on Fire
And now we turn to the final question: Have you illuminated your soul, G‑d’s candle, and the soul of others? Do you realize the spiritual power we each have, no matter how low we may have sunken? We all possess a Neshama, a Divine soul that is G‑d’s light, as it says, “The soul of man is G‑d’s light.”
The question asked in another way is: do we reflect G‑d’s light? Some who may satisfactorily answer the first two questions may still need to know whether their soul is being fully expressed.
If the answer to all of these three questions is yes, we are ready to enter into the holiest day of the year!
 
Kol Nidrei
To provide satisfactory answers to these three pivotal questions, we must not be fettered and entangled with outside influences and commitments that we may have made to other g-ds and alien -isms. These entanglements diminish our potential to be our true selves, with all of our faculties intact and our soul’s flame glowing.
The Kol Nidrei prayer, with which we usher in the Holiest day of the year, is all about renouncing the undesirable commitments we may have made.  Through Kol Nidrei, we sever our ties with the fake “me” and reconnect to the authentic “me,” the one whose Ten Faculties are intact and united; the one whose soul’s flame is radiant!
At Kol Nidrei we will hear the resounding answers to the three questions:
Yes, we have gathered all of our Ten Faculties and brought them with us to Yom Kippur!
Yes, we have integrated ourselves in the Jewish community; we feel an integral part of the community, whose sorrows and joys are ours!  And
Yes, we have kindled the flame of our souls!
 
The Three Components of Moshiach
These three aspects of Yom Kippur, harnessing our Ten Faculties, uniting with all of the Jewish people and radiating the light of our Divine souls, is what the Messianic Age is all about.
Moshiach, the leader who ushers in the Redemption, exemplifies totality; he harnesses all his Ten Faculties, unites the Jewish people, his soul is on fire and ignites the souls of all Jews.
While in Galus-exile, we have a hard time expressing ourselves, connecting to others and allowing our souls to shine brightly.
As we prepare for Yom Kippur, the ultimate Shabbos of the year, we are simultaneously preparing for the ultimate Shabbos of history: the Redemption from all the entanglements of Galus.
May everyone have a G’mar Chasimah Tova (May you be sealed in the Book of life for good); and a G’mar Chasimah of Galus with the imminent revelation of Moshiach!
 
 
 
 

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