Author: Gidon Ariel

Published Date: September 28, 2020

Beautiful Spiritual Art (above) by Michelle Katz

Who likes to admit that they did something wrong? Most of us have a very difficult time of this all year. Certainly it takes a lot of humility to be able to approach a friend, a spouse, a co- worker and ask for forgiveness for something you did. How do I bring it up? What should I say that will not reopen a terrible wound? Please bless me with the right words.

We must take all of this into account in order to receive the forgiveness that we want to receive before Yom Kippur. Of course we must do this because, although Moshe Rabenu says about Hashem in the Torah, “…ki bayom hazeh y’chaper alechem mikol chatotechem…” because on this day he will forgive you for all of your sins, (Vayikra 16.30 ), it is clear that this idea only relates to the sins which we commit between ourselves and God. As for the sins between people, this we need to take full responsibility for on every level.

As for those sins between man and God, there is also that aspect of being able to prepare properly to ask for forgiveness. The Slonimer Rebbe points out that even worse than a sin itself is the inability to admit that I have sinned. We come up with so many ways to deny that we have done wrong . Once again, who wants to admit to a wrong doing? So we have so many cover up excuses for the wrong that we do. That is why at this time of year, we are specifically reminded, during the ten days of Teshuvah, of the verse in Yeshayahu chapter 54, “dirshu Hahsem b’himatzu, karahu b’hyoto karov,” seek out God where He is found, call out to Him when He is close. This is the basis for the concept that “The King is in the fields.” It is as if Hashem makes His presence more accessible to us in this time period so that we can prepare to seek him out, admit our misgivings and honestly ask for forgiveness. This is what we must do. God forbid that I not admit to my wrong doings. This is even a worse blemish to Hashem’s honor than the act of committing the sin itself.

Returning to the verse from Vayikra, the closing of the verse says”… lifnei Hashem titharu,” you shall be spiritually purified in the presence of God. Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev teaches that this implies that I can sit in synagogue all day on Yom Kippur, however, if I do not immerse myself in the presence of Hashem, if I do not allow myself to enter what the Mishnah (Tractate Yuma 8) calls, “Mikveh Yisrael,” the ritual bath of Israel, then I cannot be assured of His forgiveness. If I do take the plunge and enter into the “mikveh” of His presence than I am guaranteed to be purified and forgiven. Thank God we once again have this great spiritually purifying opportunity coming towards us within a few days. Let’s not be afraid to enter into His presence and beg for forgiveness with humility and in earnest.

This year more than ever in our lifetime, the call from Hashem seems louder than ever. Will I take the time to prepare myself to respond by accepting His awesome presence and call, or will I continue to be in denial? Will I say that I believe, but not look for the strength and support to actualize by intellectual commitment or God forbid even worse, deny His existence and impact on my everyday life?

Will it still be most important to me to be right, to get you to agree with me at all costs? Will I continue to be pre occupied with my personal pursuit of success and forget the source of life which brings me everything that I need? Do I really want to go back to “normal” or am I willing to finally give up the power struggle and find every way possible to connect to my creator? Yes, in these ways it is all in my hands and look forward to Hashem saying, “salachti kidvarecha,” I forgive you as you have spoken to me.

This thought reminds me of the great teaching of Reb Shlomo regarding the “Amidah” silent mediation in the evening service immediately following the end of Yom Kippur. Among those 19 blessings we say, as we do all year, “s’lach lanu Avinu ki chatanu,” forgives us God for we have sinned.” Reb Shlomo always asked, “what sin could I have done between the time of the end of Yom Kippur and five minutes later when I am reciting this blessing for forgiveness?” His answer was that the only sin one could transgress is if we don’t believe that God has totally forgiven us on “Yom Ha’Kippurim.”

May we all be blessed to take the plunge, feel the support of our friends and family in the “mikveh of Yisrael” along with the graciousness of God who is forgiving us totally on this great day. “Avinu Malkenu,” Our Father our King, please inscribe us into the book of “Geulah,” redemption and salvation NOW!

Shabbat Shalom,
G’mar Chatimah Tovah,

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