Question: It is written that prayer is said to begin with gratitude. Is there any gratitude in the prayers of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement)?
Answer: First of all, the prayers on Yom Kippur are linked to the prayers of Rosh Hashanah that are designed to exalt “crown” of the Creator as king of the world. With this we elevate the goal, bestowal, love, it is a great attribute that we must attain. It manages the entire world, dwells everywhere, and controls everything.
The Creator means the characteristic of bestowal and love. He has no other image so He is clothed in the Kelim, and so we get to know Him, get to know the force that acts in creation. We respect, appreciate, and exalt this property above all.
This is the meaning of Rosh Hashanah; we celebrate the “head” (Rosh in Hebrew), which is the characteristic of bestowal. It is the most important, runs everything, attracts us, and we want to reach it, to be like it, and to be integrated within it.
Whereas Yom Kippur shows us how we are still far from this. We examine, discover, the defects and see that in the meantime we lack corrections so that we will acquire the characteristic of complete and full bestowal. We regret this when we uncover and prepare our flaws for work.
After that come the days of correction and on Purim we finish it.
Question: This is saying that on Yom Kippur there is only regret that we are not yet corrected?
Answer: And this is a great joy. In fact, I am not sorry but joyful. The shattered Kelim are revealed to me and now I can fix them. That’s right: My regret, the repentance, and the “forgiveness” are linked to joy, since I have finally discovered the evil in me and now am totally trembling with desire to correct it. I am happy that I have discovered this and I am grateful for this.
Try to read the prayers on Yom Kippur with happiness instead of crying and you will discover something completely different in this.
How is it possible to cry when we are found next to the Creator? You see that now if you are sorry, you are attesting that the Creator is the one who caused the sorrow, and this means even that the Creator is not the Good Who does good? In fact, there is no such thing. The Creator reveals the shattering to you so that you will be happy and will correct the flaw. With this you will be able to resemble Him yourself. And on the contrary, if He had created you like Him without your independent participation you would simply be “stuck” to Him like duct tape.
But no, He now gives you the opportunity to identify the differences, prepares the state for you that seemingly says, “In these characteristics you are different from Me. Carry out the work and you will be like Me.” How could it be that you would cry; for He has related to you this way and has given you the opportunity to be like Him?
On the contrary, you are happy: “Indeed, we have erred and betrayed. Indeed, I am guilty, I am a thief, I am a liar…”, and you have pleasure from what you have discovered. You are happy that He created you opposite Him and that this opposition shows you how it is possible to be like Him and to merit adhesion.
This says: “To serve the Creator” is the work of the Creator. So how is this linked to crying? You see with this you bring Him contentment. You are thankful that He is the one who has placed everything in front of you and you are grateful that He created you the opposite.
Essentially, it is as if you are “kissing the stick”, the whip that strikes you; and in this way you neutralize the evil inclination. Now it is no longer bad, since thanks to your change in attitude, it becomes good.
Question: This is to say, we are happy that we discover that we are opposite the Creator?
Answer: No, we are happy because by means of this He gives us the opportunity to be equivalent to Him. I thank Him for the preparation that I have done, for His mercy towards me both in the past and in the future. All that He does, including the shattering and the terrible disasters through which we have passed, the essence of all this is complete kindness. This is exactly what we discover. Everything depends on my outlook on life; that is precisely what we must change.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 9/13/13, Writings of Rabash