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  KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 - ט' בתשרי תשס"ו
 
  YOM KIPPUR
Rabbi Yossi Gorodetsky
About the author

Yom Kippur is one of the holiest days of the Jewish year, a day on which we elevate ourselves above our usual mundane, physical existence by fasting and abstaining from our daily pleasures, choosing instead to spend the day in prayer and contemplation.  

Gottlieb, Maurycy (1856-1879) - JEWS PRAYING IN THE SYNAGOGUE
Gottlieb, Maurycy (1856-1879)
Jews praying in the Synagogue


What is it all about? Somebody once approached their Rabbi and asked the Rabbi, 'please help me, show me how to do Teshuva (return/repent) to atone for my misdeeds'.

'Who taught you how to misbehave in the first place?'

'Nobody, I did it by myself. Nobody needed to teach me!'

'The same applies to Teshuva. You don't need lessons from me. The main thing is sincerity and a genuine desire to make good.'

 

A famous story is told of the shepherd boy who came to the Baal Shem Tov's synagogue on Yom Kippur. Hearing everyone else deep in prayer, crying out to the heavens, he wanted to join in and pour out his soul. Problem was, the only sounds that he knew were animal noises. So he proceeded to imitate the farm animals. This caused quite a commotion and some of the worshippers wanted to remove this young upstart. The Baal Shem Tov, however, silenced them and showed great pleasure.

 

Later he explained that the simple, true, heartfelt cries of this young boy had accomplished more in the Heavens than all of the complex meditations and contemplations that the more learned folk were engaging in.

 

Sincerity is the key. Even somebody familiar with the prayers finds themselves tongue-tied on Yom Kippur. There are a lot of prayers to say, a lot of unfamiliar and difficult words and not enough time to say them. The order of prayer is very important and I am not advocating doing away with it. But it is important for us to remember the whole purpose of our prayers, to return with a full heart and to achieve atonement, a clean slate, to start afresh.

 

Let us not be fazed by the endless pages of text. The main thing is sincerity and a heartfelt desire. We have to actually want it for ourselves. If that means whatever our personal equivalent is of the shepherd boy's animal noises, then that is what is required.

 

May all of us 'return' this Yom Kippur. May we start the New Year refreshed and invigorated from this period of introspection and reflection and, most importantly, may all of us, together with our families, be inscribed in the Book of Life for a Good and Sweet Year, a year of Health, Joy, Happiness, Serenity, Courage and Wisdom, and a prosperous year both materially and spiritually.

 

May we merit the coming of Moshiach speedily in our day.

 

Have an easy fast.

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