Theme of the day of Yom Kippur

The Theme of the day

The meaning of the name:

What is the essence of Yom Kippur, its inner meaning and purpose? A name reveals the essence of an item. Yom Kippur is the day we receive atonement from Hashem for our sins. It however remains to be understood why one receives this atonement specifically on Yom Kippur? Isn’t atonement achieved through Teshuvah [repentance] which is a Mitzvah to perform any time of the year in the event of sin? What distinguishes Yom Kippur from the regular performance of Teshuvah during the year? One could possibly answer that although Hashem always accepts Teshuvah, Yom Kippur is the only day of the year specially designated just for Teshuvah. However, if this were the case, then the Holiday should be called Yom Teshuvah rather than Yom Kippur. From the fact it is called Yom Kippur, it is implied that there’s a special atonement which only occurs on Yom Kippur which even surpasses the atonement derived through Teshuvah.

Is Teshuvah required on Yom Kippur in order to receive atonement?[1]

The Gemara in Shavuos[2] brings an argument between Reb Yehuda and Chochamim. Rebbe Yehuda holds that the essence of the day of Yom Kippur atones for a person’s sins even without him doing Teshuvah. The Chochamim hold one must do Teshuvah in order to merit receiving the day’s atonement. The final ruling in Halacha sides with the Chochamim.[3] According to both opinions however, it is the day of Yom Kippur itself which atones, the argument is only with regards to if one must do Teshuvah on this day to merit its atonement.[4] What is the meaning of this? How can a day atone? How can one receive atonement without doing Teshuvah?

The essence of a Jews soul is free from sin-Teshuvah reveals the essences:[5]

The Chassidic teachings explain that the Jewish soul is an actual part of G-d above which contains five levels. The lowest level relates to action, the second to emotion, the third to intellect, the fourth to will, and the fifth is the essence of the soul. The first four levels, being that they are not the essence, have a weaker unity with its source, which is Hashem. In order to be fully united with Hashem, they require fulfilling the will of Hashem, which are the Mitzvos found in the Torah. Due to this, these four levels become affected by sin, becoming blemished and stained through sin, making it cause a separation in its unity with Hashem. However, the essence of the soul is absolutely one with G-d Himself, even without fulfillment of the laws of the Torah, and just as one can not affect or blemish G-d through sin, so too this part of the soul cannot be effected by sin. On Yom Kippur, it is this part of the soul that is revealed; the essence of a Jew which is one with Hashem and immune to all obstacles threatening separation from its source. This revelation thus cleanses the other aspects of the soul, removing from it all of its blemishes caused by sin, and reuniting it with its source. However, as mentioned before, according to the final law, one is required to repent to merit this revelation. For this reason, the prayers of Yom Kippur are filled with confessions, as this is a part of Teshuvah. According to the above, Yom Kippur doesn’t mean “The day of atonement” but rather “The day is atonement,” as it is the day itself which atones.

Five prayers in correspondence to five levels of Neshama:[6]

There is a total of five Shemoneh Esrei prayers on Yom Kippur; Maariv, Shacharis, Musaf, Mincha, Neilah. These five prayers correspond to the five levels of the soul. The prayer of Maariv corresponds to the level of Nefesh of the soul. The prayer of Shacharis corresponds to the level of Ruach of the soul. The prayer of Musaf corresponds to the level of Neshama of the soul. The prayer of Mincha corresponds to the level of Chaya of the soul. The prayer of  Neilah, corresponds to the level of Yechidah of the soul.

 

Shabbos Shabbason-The head of all future Shabbosim:[7]

Yom Kippur is called Shabbos Shabbason being that it is the Shabbos of all the Shabbosim of the year. This is because all the Shabbosim of the year are considered like a weekday in comparison to the Shabbos of Yom Kippur. A ray of Yom Kippur shines on every Shabbos.

Level of Kapara received is in relation to quality of Teshuvah:[8]

There are many levels of atonement and forgiveness. The forgiveness of Yom Kippur is in accordance to each person’s level of Avodas Hateshuvah, on how he asks for forgiveness.

Teshuvah for all-even the non-sinners:[9]

Every Jew is required to perform Teshuvah, even one who has never sinned. Even the righteous must arouse mercy on the decent of their soul that has entered impurity. It is on this form of Teshuvah that the coming of Moshiach is dependant.

 

Teshuvah for all past sins on Yom Kippur:[10]

The Teshuvah of Yom Kippur is an obligation for all. Even those that have not sinned, or have already done Teshuvah, must do Teshuvah on Yom Kippur. Although Teshuvah is a positive command that must be fulfilled irrelevant of Yom Kippur, nevertheless there is a specific Mitzvah of Teshuvah on Yom Kippur. Some explain this to refer to that those who have not yet done Teshuvah by the arrival of Yom Kippur, must do so on Yom Kippur. This however does not explain the wording of the Rambam that Yom Kippur is a day of Teshuvah for all, even those that have no sin. The Rebbe hence explains that Yom Kippur is a day that all Jews must repent for any sin he had in his lifetime. Meaning, even if one already did Teshuvah, he is to still do a further Teshuvah on Yom Kippur. Hence, since there is no man on earth without sin, every Jew repents on Yom Kippur.

Inner feeling of repentance is better than external emotional expression:[11]

The main scream of Teshuvah is in the heart, and is not to be voiced. Inner and quiet feelings are more powerful and internal than external expressions. Thus, the first Luchos which were given with much clamor and publication allowed the nurture of Kelipos, and were hence broken. However, the second Luchos were given discreetly and hence are everlasting.

Will we celebrate Yom Kippur in the future when Moshiach comes?

The day of Yom Kippur will continue to exist even after the coming of Moshiach.[12] We will also fast on this day just as was done prior to Moshiach’s coming.[13] The purpose of this fast will be to atone for sins performed when the Yetzer Hara was still intact.[14] Nevertheless, the other forms of oppressions, such as not wearing leather shoes, not bathing and the prohibition against marital relations, will be rescinded.[15]

During the seven days of the inauguration of the Temple:[16] If the seven days of inauguration of the third Temple will fall during Yom Kippur, then on that Yom Kippur we will not fast, just as was done during the seven days of inauguration of the first Temple in the times of Shlomo. This is due to the Simcha required to be shown during the inauguration.

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[1] Likkutei Sichos 4 p. 1149; 27 p. 124; See also See Melukat 4 p. 17

[2] Shavuos 12b

[3] Rambam Hilchos Teshuvah 1/2-3; Likkutei Sichos ibid

[4] Likkutei Sichos 4 ibid

[5] Likkutei Sichos 4 p. 1149; 27 p. 124

[6] Mamar Shuva Yisrael 5737, printed in Melukat 4 p. 17

[7] Likkutei Torah Haazinu 72b

[8] Likkutei Torah Haazinu 72b

[9] Likkutei Torah Ki Seitzei last Mamar

[10] Likkutei Sichos 29 p. 203

[11] Likkutei Torah Haazinu 72b

[12] Yalkut Shemoni Mishleiy 944 “All the holidays will be nullified in the future except for Purim. Rebbe Eliezer says even Yom Kippur will never be nullified as the verse states “Chukas Olam/an everlasting statute”

[13] Radbaz 2/828; Peri Tzaddik [Rebbe Tzadok of Lublin] 5 Motzei Yom Kippur 2

The reason: As the Torah is eternal and thus the notion that a Holiday will be nullified in the literal sense is not acceptable. The other Holidays will be nullified in the sense that their pleasure will not be felt due to the constant pleasure of the redemption era. However, on Yom Kippur since we will fast, the oppression will be felt even more that today. [Radbaz ibid]

[14] Peri Tzaddik ibid

[15] Peri Tzaddik ibid based on Tikkunei Zohar 21 which states “Purim is called like Yom Kippur because in the future one will have pleasure on Yom Kippur and the day of oppression will be turned to joy.” He interprets this to refer to the other forms of oppression, other than fasting. Regarding the difference between fasting and the other oppressions [which are all Biblically forbidden], see Admur 611/2 that fasting is always called and oppression while the other matters are only occasionally called an oppression, and is hence only Biblically forbidden due to a tradition of the Sages.

[16] See Moed Katan 9a; Toras Menachem 1992 Erev Yom Kippur

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