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B”H

Shalom and Bracha!

May Hashem seal the inscription for you, your entire family, and all those who are dear to you for a healthy, happy, prosperous and sweet new year and may we see the redemption through Moshiach immediately!

The Talmud refers to Yom Kippur as the day which requires five prayers. The simple meaning thereof is that on a regular day, we pray evening, morning and afternoon prayers. On special days like Shabbat and holidays, we add the Musaf prayer. Yom Kippur we add N’eilah, the final prayer. From the fact that the Talmud defines Yom Kippur by the fifth prayer, there is definitely a deeper meaning.

The Midrash teaches that the soul is called five names. Kaballah explains that each name refers to a level of the soul. The lower three levels, called Nefesh, Ruach and Neshamah, are connected to the body. The higher levels transcend the body. The number of prayers each day corresponds to the revelation of the soul. On a mundane day, the lower three parts of the soul are revealed. On Shabbat and holidays, the higher part of the soul is revealed, hence the additional prayer. On Yom Kippur, the essence of the soul that is constantly united with Hashem is revealed, hence the fifth prayer. This is also the reason for the atonement of Yom Kippur. Because the essence of the soul is always bound with Hashem, it is above sin and iniquity. When that connection is revealed, sin and iniquity are vanquished. The word N’eilah means locking of the gates. The simple meaning is the final prayer before the gates of Heaven close. A deeper meaning is that we are “locked in” in a private audience with Hashem and the entire world is outside.

As we seek Hashem’s pardon for our past mistakes and His positive verdict for a good new year, it is a good time to reflect upon how we judge others. There is a very interesting Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (The ethics of our fathers) that teaches that for everything we do there is a judgment and a reckoning. Seemingly, the order is reversed. First there must be a reckoning of what we have done, and then there can be a judgment. The Mishnah is teaching us that Hashem judges us as we judge others. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev explains that when we pass on, we forget our past. We are shown our own acts, and asked to judge. We then realize that we have judged ourselves, and receive our own judgment. Thus we have judgment and reckoning. If we want Hashem to look favorably at us, we must look favorably at others.

One year Yom Kippur the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, was late coming to synagogue. The entire congregation was waiting, and as time passed, they sought him throughout the village. Eventually, they discovered that he had gone to the home of a poor woman who had recently given birth and had nothing to eat. He cooked for her and fed her (her condition was such that it was permissible to cook for her on Yom Kippur). The Chassidim learned that caring for someone else precedes everything.

Last Yom Kippur we concluded the prayers “Next Year in Yerushalayim.” May we merit that this Yom Kippur we will already be in Yerushalayim together with Moshiach.

G’mar Chatima Tovah (May Hashem conclude inscribing and sealing you for a good year) and have an easy fast.

Shalom and Bracha,

Rabbi Biggs


 
   
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