Question: The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is the most special of days in Israel, when complete silence is established: stores close and mass media and transportation stop. There is no other example like this in the world.
There is consensus among the people of Israel about this day: according to surveys conducted in the past year, about 60% of Israelis fast on Yom Kippur.
There is a very special atmosphere on this day. Why is it treated with so much respect in Israel? Why do Israelis honor the quietness and the possibility to ponder and scrutinize the soul on this day? How do we use this day with a deeper meaning so that it affects the whole year to come?
Answer: Yom Kippur is a special day, not because there is special weather or special forces are activated, which people don’t feel anyway. People, with our special attitude to this day, make it so special. It does not descend onto us this way from above.
If the calendar didn’t indicate when Yom Kippur is to occur, we would not feel it. But when we all hold this day in such great esteem, it becomes special.
Once I happened to be in Manhattan on the day of Rosh HaShana. Another time I was in the Czech Republic on Purim, and even in the Jewish neighborhoods I did not feel the kind of holiday mood that one feels on the streets of Israel.
The “Day of Atonement” (Yom Kippur) is a time for inner spiritual calculation, reflection, and a special attitude. One feels that it has to do with his soul. Everyone tries to be a little better, softer, and calmer on this day, depending on his ability and upbringing.
Even those who do not fast, still consider this a special day. The Day of Atonement pertains to each of us and forces us to perform our individual calculation by scrutinizing one’s soul. But one cannot do this alone—only together. I cannot judge myself according to the upper force, the Creator.
Yom Kippur is the Day of Judgment on yourself, following a repentance after the beginning of the new year. During the new year we decide to realize our potential in life and figure out during the year how to do that and come closer to this goal. One reveals that there is an upper force, which controls our whole world, a general force of nature, which has a precise plan and program.
Therefore, this force created us and develops us now. We are in a net of nature’s laws that bind us from all sides. We fail to understand to what extent we are controlled from above, like babies who don’t even suspect that there are companies producing their formula and all the other necessities. A baby is unfamiliar with this world; he just knows that he needs to scream and mommy will come and do everything for him. That’s all he knows how to do.
Similarly, we only know a tiny world around us on this earth, and that’s it. We don’t even suspect that there is a great system of forces, preparing us and taking care to eventually lead us to a certain forethought state.
All that is hidden from us. However, the science of Kabbalah explains this process and the upper force that controls it to us. We must reveal this upper force on our own and bring it out of concealment in order to broaden our world.
We need to cancel the boundaries of the capsule within which we exist and see all the worlds together, as it is written, “You will see your world during this life.” In fact, this is our purpose and our realization as human beings in this world.
We must reveal the whole eternal and perfect world, where the Garden of Eden exists, instead of just this tiny, transient, and insignificant world full of suffering. And we will reveal that Eden due to opening ourselves up to a great external world.
The science of Kabbalah teaches us that a person needs to rise above his egoistic nature and connect with other people by removing the boundaries between us. In this manner we also remove the boundaries between our world and the upper, external, and eternal world.
Everything depends on canceling our self-love and turning to others. If I begin to treat others like myself, I will thereby eliminate all boundaries and begin to see beyond the boundaries of my usual circle. It is not easy and we need to learn this, but Kabbalists achieved this state in previous generations and came out into the external world.
Kabbalah says that we have to realize this goal.
From KabTV’s “New Life” 9/17/15