Yom Kippur, the Festival of Freedom

Yom KippurYom Kippur, the holiest day of the year is marked by great intensity fervor and meditation. While it is true that the gates of the Divine Palace are always accessible to each individual every day of the year, nevertheless the gates are there, the guards are in place and the moat encircles the Palace. That is to say that “Life” and all of its continual flow continues to place obstacles in our way in our attempt to find the way within our soul , into the heavenly palace.

On these Days of Awe, the “King” is in the field. He is (metaphorically speaking) standing in the spot where we are standing and is within easy reach. As we reach the final day of the ten days of Awe the urgency of the moment overtakes of and the sense of the “closing  of the gates” seizes our hearts  in its dramatic grip.

Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement and repentance becomes then, a day of serious introspection and contemplation. As Jews we believe that the pathway to standing before the Divine throne is through the humbling of the heart. Nothing else, neither sacrifices, nor are charity and not even prayer , the way to that inner sanctum. Those things are simply the outer expressions of the source of all repentance. That source remains the contrite heart.

Rav Elimelech Bar Shaul, former Chief Rabbi of Rehovot suggested that Yom Kippur echoes another sentiment as well . We read in /Leviticus the following;

Then shall thou make proclamation with the blast of the horn on the tenth day of the seventh month; in the Day of Atonement shall ye make proclamation with the horn throughout all your land.  And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof; it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family ( footnote 101- VaYikra/ Leviticus 25:9-10)

The day of Yom Kippur relates to the declaration of freedom and “every man shall return unto his possession and unto his family”.

We all have become enslaved to the whims and demands of our society, our environment and our daily lives. We have become so enslaved that many of us assume that change is impossible. When the Bible describes the engraving of the commandments unto the tablets of Moshe, it uses the word HARUT (engraved) which is spelled in the same manner as HERUT (freedom).True freedom from the sometimes cruel bondage of a politically correct society , necessarily involves being bound up within the will of a Higher agenda.

We are a people that have been battered for so long that we have begun to assume that we are grasshoppers in our own eyes and in the eyes of our enemy.

Sentiments that echo the declaration of the ten spies in the days of the desert.

It is not coincidental then that tragedy after tragedy occurs in the same season wherein the spies made that declaration. Temples were destroyed and murders and pogroms abounded in these days. More recently the tragic expulsion from Gush Katif and the subsequent Lebanon wars all occurred in this season.

Only when each individual member of the Jewish people learn to use the empowering healing of Yom Kippur to regain their sense of self worth and potential will”…every man return to his possession  and..return every man unto his family” Only then can a people reclaim their destiny.

Passover termed the festival of freedom, relates to our freedom as a people.

Yom Kippur relates to the freedom of the individual.

Yom Kippur speaks to our ability to be a choosing inwardly motivated individual. Gentle humility and not powerful arrogance becomes the key to that freedom. May we find the strength and courage to enter those inner places in our soul and truly find the freedom that is our inheritance

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