Friday, September 25, 2009

Yom Kippur: the Divine Gift of Teshuva

Tishrei 7, 5770/ September 25, 2009

Yom Kippur is a day of great trepidation, on the one hand, and great hope, on the other. For on Yom Kippur we stand before G-d in judgement. Our fates, in accordance with our own deeds, are sealed. Who shall live, and who shall die; Who shall be comforted and who shall be troubled; Who shall prosper, and who shall grow destitute... But above and beyond all else, Yom Kippur is a day of great empowerment. For on this day we determine our own fates. On this day we can change the past and we can redirect the future. Yes, G-d applies the seal, but only in our presence, only after we have spoken our heart, and only after we have confessed, in the deepest sense of the word, who we are, who we strive to be, and in which direction and toward what end we are heading.

Our sages teach us that there are three things which predate creation: Shabbat, the Holy Temple, and teshuva, (repentance, literally, "return," - return to ourselves, return to G-d). By virtue of their pre-creation status, each of these three realities enables us to enjoy an "out-of-creation" reality. Shabbat, which is the sanctification of time, grants us, on a weekly basis, a refuge from the temporal world. It provides for us a world above time, beyond time. A pure world unaffected, untainted, undiminished by time.

The Holy Temple, which is the sanctification of space, enables us to enter a world above space, beyond the limitations of distance, where, like the Shabbat, there exists no divide between ourselves and the Divine. Within the confines of the Holy Temple we are one with the Shechina - the transcendant, limitless presence of G-d Almighty. The light years of distance between our physical world and the reality of G-d do not exist within the Holy Temple.

If the Shabbat allows us to step outside of time itself and to enjoy a taste of eternity, and thereby gain ascendancy over the ravages of the temporal world, and the Holy Temple allows us to step into a border-less unity with G-d's presence, liberating us from our earthly parameters, then teshuva, the ability to return, grants us mastery over our own selves.

Our sages tell us that if one repents out of fear of G-d, then all his former intentional transgressions will be seen by G-d as having been unintentional. And if one repents out of love for G-d, his former intentional transgressions will be considered by G-d to be merits! For the ability to repent, to do teshuva, empowers us to not only determine our futures, but to recreate our past, in essence, to renew, reshape, and recreate ourselves.

Perhaps this is why Yom Kippur, the great day of teshuva, is called by Torah a "shabbat shabbaton, (Leviticus 16:31)" literally a "sabbath of sabbaths," or a "sabbath of rest." Teshuva, like the shabbat, allows us to transcend time, our own time. And perhaps this is why Yom Kippur in the Holy Temple involved the most intensive of Temple services, performed in its entirety by one man, the Kohen Gadol - the High Priest. The act of teshuva likewise grants to the individual access to the life transforming potential of a seamless relationship with G-d.

The Divine gift of teshuva is here for all who avail themselves of its life-transforming power. And while teshuva exists every day of the year, it is on Yom Kippur that G-d grants us His undivided attention, as it were. It is on Yom Kippur that G-d expresses His absolute trust, and faith, and love for all His children. Teshuva is a gift we dare not squander.

Tune in to this week's Temple Talk as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven discuss the Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur, and the Divine process of these remarkable life-changing, life-renewing days. The Torah portion of Ha'azinu, read n the very first Shabbat of the new year of 5770: What message does it impart for the upcoming year?

A Short Yom Kippur Message from Rabbi Chaim Richman: If you've ever made a mistake, watch this short message. If you ever wished you could simply delete all the errors you made in your life, watch this video. If you ever dreamed of a new beginning, guaranteed, no questions asked, this short video is for you. If your heart is sincere, and you're willing simply to show up, to make a difference in your own life, and to get down to the task of being who you know you can be, this year will be the best year of your life. Click here to view this three minute video blessing. G'mat Chatima Tova! - May you be sealed in the Book of Life!

This week features the Bat Melech video teaching with Rabbanit Rena Richman, entitled, "The Season of Teshuva: It begins on the first day of Elul, and culminates forty days later, on the tenth day of Tishrei - Yom Kippur: the irresistible heavenly call to man to do teshuva - to return to his true self, and to strive anew to reach his G-d given potential." Click here to view.

Today also features the new Light to the Nations teaching by Rabbi Chaim Richman, entitled, "Reflections on Yom Kippur - 5770: The opportunity to do teshuva, commonly translated as repentance, but more accurately defined as returning to G-d, and returning to yourself, as G-d intended you, awaits us every day of the year. But there is no day as propitious for teshuva as the 10th day of Tishrei - Yom Kippur. On this day, G-d, our Father and King, opens before us His Book of Our Lives, and allows us to make the changes we need to draw closer to Him, to our own true selves, and retstart our lives on a whole other level." Click here to view.

Click here to learn more about how Yom Kippur is observed in the Holy Temple.

“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth! My lesson will drip like rain; my word will flow like dew…” (Deuteronomy 32:1-2)
Sometimes our spirits are in the clouds; other times we’re feeling totally grounded. Sometimes we feel G-d’s presence around us as strong as the driving rain. Other times He seems as elusive as the morning dew. But whether we’re up or we’re down, whether we are focused on our attachment to G-d, or we’re feeling distant and disconnected, G-d is here. Always. This message of the first Shabbat of 5770 will serve us well throughout the coming year. Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat Ha’azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52).

G'mar Chatima Tova - May you be sealed in the Book of Life,
Yitzchak Reuven
PO Box 31876
Jerusalem, Israel 97500

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