05 Sep YOM KIPPUR
The tefillos of Yom Kippur are sung in special melodies, which have been sung for centuries. The holy sefarim explain that these tunes annul the harsh judgment. As it states (Tehillim 47), Zamru Leilokim, prune away the harsh judgment with song.” We can explain this with a mashal. The king’s son became insane. He sent him to an asylum, and paid a lot of money for his care.
Eventually, the son became better. But the director of the asylum didn’t want to tell that to the king. He didn’t want to lose the high income he was receiving from this royal patient; he kept the prince locked inside his asylum. The prince was wise, and he sought ways to free himself from his unlawful imprisonment. He tried writing to his father, telling him that he was better, but the director destroyed all those letters. The clever child wrote a letter to the king, but this one looked totally different than all the others. He scribbled all over the page; it looked like a very insane child wrote it. Only a discerning eye would notice the words camouflaged within the scribbles. When the director saw that letter, he was glad to send it to the king, for it would prove to the king that his son was still ill and needed professional care. When the king received the strange letter, he studied it closely. (He loved his son, so he took the time to study the letter, even though it appeared like nonsense.)
The king was able to read the words concealed under the pictures and scribbles. It read, “I am already well. Bring me home.” We say many tefillos to our King, our Father in heaven, but the angels intercept our tefillos and do not let them go up to heaven. So we sing melodies. The malachim don’t see importance in them, and they allow the songs to go up to heaven. They don’t know that concealed within these tunes are all our requests for the upcoming year. Hashem understands our concealed message, and grants us all our wishes.
The Great Battle
The Mishnah in Avos (5:7) writes, “Ten miracles happened to our forefathers in the Beis HaMikdash…” One of them is that the cohen gadol never became impure on Yom Kippur, and therefore, every Yom Kippur the cohen gadol was able to preside over the avodah. Cohanim would keep the cohen gadol awake all night, so he wouldn’t fall asleep and become impure. If they saw him falling asleep, they would snap their fingers to awaken him…”(Yoma 1:7). Taking that into account, the Tosfos Yom Tov asks, why was the cohen gadol’s purity a miracle? He was awake all night, and cautious from tumah!
The Tosfos Yom Tov answers, “The yetzer hara and the yetzer tov fight like two sworn enemies. When one of them sees his end is near, and that he will soon lose the battle, he becomes stronger and fights even harder, because he knows that if he loses this battle he has lost everything. And since the night of Yom Kippur is, an especially holy night for the cohen gadol, because the next morning he will carry out the avodah in the Beis HaMikdash to atone for the entire Jewish nation for all their sins, the yetzer hara and the Satan try hard, with all their might to make him sin and to make him tamei. This is the reason the cohen gadol needed so much shemirah.” It was a miracle, because the yetzer hara knows the greatness of Yom Kippur and the holiness of the avodah. He worked hard to make the cohen gadol impure. But he remained pure, and that’s a miracle.
On a personal level, when one sees that his yetzer hara is very strong, that is a good sign. That is a sign that the yetzer hara is afraid of him, and he is therefore trying very hard to get him to sin. Similarly, if a generation sees the yetzer hara is battling against them with all its might, that’s a sign the yetzer hara is afraid of what they can accomplish. And it’s a sign the yetzer hara knows its end is near, and he must fight with all its might to survive.
Hashem’s Joy on Yom Kippur In Tehillim (139:16) it states, “Hashem created days, and one is Hashem’s day.” Tana d’Bei Eliyahu (ch.1) writes, “This pasuk is referring to Yom Kippur. Hakadosh Baruch Hu had immense joy to give this day to the Jewish nation with love.
This can be explained with a mashal of servants who were cleaning the king’s palace. When the king went outside, he saw all the garbage that was thrown out, and he was extremely happy. This is how it is on Yom Kippur… When Hashem forgives the sins of the Jewish nation…He’s extremely joyous… Hashem says ‘Rejoice immensely because I am forgiving the sins of the Jewish people.’”
Rebbe Simchah Bunim of Peshischa zt’l tells another mashal to help us understand Hashem’s immense joy on Yom Kippur:
A compassionate father saw his son was in immense pain. Doctors said he is suffering from worms. They gave him medicine, and all the worms came out. When the father sees the worms, he is very happy. Hashem is similarly happy when He sees that all our sins were taken out from our system. The Midrash (Tana d’Bei Eliyahu Zuta, end of ch.4) tells, “The day Moshe went up to Har Sinai for forty days [on Rosh Chodesh Elul until Yom Kippur, to bring down the second luchos] Bnei Yisrael decreed a fast day. On the fortieth day [Yom Kippur] they decreed another fast day. They started to fast on the preceding night, so they would be protected from the yetzer hara. In the morning, they went towards Har Sinai. They were crying as they came towards Moshe, and Moshe was crying as he came towards them. Their cries went up before Hashem, and then Hashem’s compassion was roused on Bnei Yisrael and He accepted their teshuvah… Hakadosh Baruch Hu said, ‘Bnei Yisrael, I swear by My name and by My throne that your tears will become immense joy. This day will be a day for atonement for you, for your children, and for your grandchildren, for all generations.’”
Reb Simchah Bunim of Peshischa zy’a told the following parable: Someone’s home was very dirty, and although he tried many times to clean it, he didn’t succeed. He thought of a plan. He invited the king to his house. The king’s servants came to this man’s house to clean it, so it would be fitting for the king’s visit. The man gained double: He had the merit to host the king, plus his house was cleaned. This is what happens on Yom Kippur. As we say in the zemiros of Motzei Shabbos, “Al Chatai”, for my sins, “Avor Tavor”, come over to visit me. We earn double: Hashem comes to us, and our sins are removed.