Sunday, October 01, 2006

Lekavod Yom HaKadosh G'mar Chasima Tova

The Day of Yom Kippur is upon us, and it is worth examining the essence of the day, so we can enter into this Holy Day in the proper frame of mind. Yom Kippur literally means the Day of Atonement. We will be receiving atonement for our sins that we have committed throughout the year. Yet, one must wonder what would happen if he did not receive atonement. The Gemara tells us that as long as one repents, Yom Kippur will serve as atonement for his sins. Apparently, it is not merely a day of atonement. It is a day of atonement predicated on repentance. Furthermore, there are many Jews who on the surface do not appear to repent, yet they live out the following year in peace. How is this possible? In the preamble to Kol Nidrei that we recite on Yom Kippur eve, we recite a very enigmatic declaration. The words we recite are: with the knowledge of the congregation, and with the knowledge of the Omnipresent, we are permitted to pray with the transgressors. This permit begs for an explanation. The Gemara teaches us that the ketores was comprised of eleven spices, and one of them was called the chelbanah, galbanum. This particular spice had a very foul odor, yet was included in the spices of the ketores, which was the most cherished of all services that were performed in the Bais HaMikdash. The Gemara teaches us that from here we derive the ruling that we include the wanton sinners of Israel in our fast days. Why is the ketores the object of this teaching? When Yaakov came before his father Yitzchak to receive the blessings, it is said and he smelled the fragrance of his clothing, and he blessed him. The Gemara states that the word for clothing, begadav, can be interpreted homiletically to mean bogdodv, his rebellious ones. The Gemara states that even the wanton sinners of Israel emit a wonderful fragrance. Thus, at the onset of Jewish history, the wicked were already incorporated into the blessings of the righteous. When one begins to understand the theme of Yom Kippur, it will become very clear why even the wicked of Israel are granted atonement. We can adopt the approach that our preamble refers to the wicked that do not even come to synagogue to pray on Yom Kippur, but then we will be left wondering how they earn atonement. It would be more plausible to assume that even amongst the worshipers on Yom Kippur there are those who may have not yet repented from their sins, and it is regarding those Jews who we address the declaration that we are permitted to pray with the wanton sinners. The Gemara tells us that even a Jew who sinned is still considered a Jew. If every Jew is always considered a Jew, then every Jew can gain atonement on Yom Kippur. This is accomplished by every Jew in the synagogue accepting upon himself responsibility for every Jew. Even those who emit a foul odor, and even those who rebel against HaShem, are still incorporated into the Yom Kippur service. A wanton sinner can receive the blessing of the righteous, as long as he is connected to the greater body of Israel. Let us enter into this Yom Kippur with the knowledge that we are functioning as the Kohen Gadol in the Bais HaMikdash, who sought atonement for the sins of all of Israel. When we bear this weighty responsibility in mind, we will surely be focused on the holiness of the day, and HaShem will once again declare the word salachti, I forgive. HaShem should grant us all a G’mar Chasima Tova.


Anonymous said...

Similarly,the four minim of the lulav and esrog includes everyone even those whom don't have taste nor good smell. We bind them together to achieve the same purpose.