Topic: Holidays & Time Zones | Posted:September 11, 2013
The magnitude of this day must be understood in order to draw the tremendous Light that is available on it. The essence of this day is purification; Yom Kippur itself cleanses.
We can compare the gift that is given to us on Yom Kippur to a task given to a small child by his mother and father. The parents give their child time to complete the task; however, after some time, the child feels that he can’t finish it alone so he cries to his parents, and out of their love for him, they help him complete it.
Rav Isaac Luria (The Ari) explains that on Yom Kippur we elevate to the level of Binah, which is called “Supernal Mother.” And so it is on Yom Kippur we are like a child who is with his loving parents, and says to them, “Daddy, this hurts. Mommy, this also hurts – help me.” In this same way, on Yom Kippur we mention what we need to cleanse so that the Creator will find the medicine for all of our ailments.
The Creator, whose love for us is beyond all limits and logic, tells us “Come to Me, beloved children, come to us and we will assist you in purification and atonement.” And according to this explanation, the words of the Ari are understandable. For when we go up to level of Binah, “Supernal Mother,” she is really calling us to help in the purification from the klipot of the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone that we have covered ourselves with.
There’s a story I like about the Baal Shem Tov with regards to where our thoughts should be on Yom Kippur.
Arriving at a certain town before Rosh Hashanah, the Baal Shem Tov was told that the rabbi of the town also acted as the cantor. “And how does he conduct himself during the prayers?” the Baal Shem Tov asked. They told him that on Yom Kippur their rabbi had the unusual custom of singing the lengthy confession to happy melodies. The Baal Shem Tov at once called for this man. On asking him the meaning of this custom, the rabbi answered, “If the lowliest of a king’s servants - whose task it is to rake away the filth from the gutters of the royal courtyard - loves his king, then as he works, he sings with joy out of the sheer pleasure he derives from making him happy!” The Baal Shem Tov responded, “If this is what you have in mind while you are at prayer, would that my lot be at once with yours!”
According to this, it is understandable that on Yom Kippur - the day on which we cleanse ourselves of the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone - we must be happy because we are cleaning our bodies so that the Creator will be able to cast his Light upon us throughout the year to come.