Yom Kippur/Parshat Haazinu
By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest… He shall carry them upon His wing
“I have placed my stakes through thirteen words (thirteen attributes of mercy), and through the gates of tears, for they will not be discounted, therefore I pour out (my) prayer before the One Who Probes Hearts. Confident am I with these and with the merit of the three Fathers…” (Selichot)
Rabbi Akiva explains that Yom Kippur is best described as a mikveh, and ‘just as the mikveh purifies the unclean, so Hashem purifies Israel’ (Mishna Yoma 8:9). Rabbi Akiva bases his statement on the verse (Jer. 14, 8) “mikveh Yisrael Hashem,” homiletically explaining the verse as meaning “Hashem is like a Mikveh (that purifies Israel on Yom Kippur).” However, it should be noted that the simple translation of this verse is “Hashem is the trust (mikveh=tikva (hope/trust)) of Israel.”
We may unify the simple and homiletic explanation of this verse in the following way. The Ramhal extensively discusses the concept of trust in Hashem, and he also wrote 515 prayers all ending with the verse “”for Your salvation I hope, Hashem.” The beginning of all these prayers begins with the words “the One, Only, and Unique God”, a matter which clearly evokes the “Secret of Unity” of Hashem discussed by Ramhal in almost all his works. The fact that the theme of Hashem’s Unity and the theme of hope constantly appear at the beginning and end of these prayers shows a clear connection between them. Indeed, through a number of these prayers (376 for example) we discover that there is a deep connection between the concepts of “unity”, “uniting the waters to one place” – “yikavu hamayim” in a mikveh, and also between “mikveh” and “kivui”, hope.
In order to explain this connection we will shortly explain the concept of Hashem’s “Way of Unity” in the “Secret if Unity.” Nevertheless, it should be clear that this explanation is far from sufficient in understanding the “Secret of Unity.” The Way of Unity is different than what we commonly experience today which is called the Way of Justice, a Way by which good and evil are manifest separately. However, the Way of Unity presents the Grand United Divine Plan by which there is no and never was evil, for even what has seemed to be evil throughout history was an integral part of the Grand Divine Plan of Supreme Goodness. When we put our trust in God – “kivui” – we are ultimately connecting to Unified Grand Divine Plan of Goodness and by strengthening this trust we essentially “pull on” the “Line” – “Kav” – of Goodness emanating from this Grand Unified Plan and which continues on to our very lives. By pulling on this Line of Divine Compassion we essentially bring the Grand Divine Plan of Goodness to be manifest in our world, bringing manifest goodness to our world.
In this way we can also explain Rabbi Akiva’s teaching as expressing that on Yom Kippur we become closer to this “Line of Hope” and Compassion emanating from the Unified Divine Plan. Hope and confidence in Hashem’s mercy upon us to forgive us on Yom Kippur is an integral part of this day’s forgiveness as well. In the Talmud and in the poskim we see that one who does not believe that Hashem atones for his sins on Yom Kippur, then his sins will really not be atoned for. Confidence in Hashem as “the Great Eagle that has taken us upon wing” as mentioned in our title quote from our parsha is also key in our repentance. Let us have confidence in Hashem, thereby confiding our mistakes and flaws before Hashem, bringing Hashem to purify us and help us rectify ourselves, transforming us to be reborn again.
This confidence is accentuated in Hebron the City of Unity with Hashem’s Divine Mercy provided upon us through the “Line” of Kindness continued onto us through our Patriarchs in the Holy Presence of our Holy Land. “And He remembers the kindness of the Patriarchs and brings a redeemer for their descendants for the sake of His Name with love.”
One of the practices upon which it is said that a “line of kindness is delivered throughout the day” is studying Torah at night. Rabbi Eliyahu Serwe, who moved to Hebron from Damascus, regularly woke up at midnight to study Torah in a synagogue in Hebron. There he recited Tikun Hatzot and studied Zohar which he had also memorized many of its passages. He was well-versed in Torah, Zohar and Midrash, and he was also engaged in many acts of kindness. He held close connection to Rabbi Eliyahu Mani, with whom he also travelled to Bombay once. There, after Rabbi Serwe delivered a sermon, one of the residents asked him to take something for himself, to which he refused. Nevertheless, this resident insisted and handed him a gift, a ring ordained with precious stones…”
Real Stories from the Holy Land #281
“Once I was learning Torah with a group, and we side-tracked to a different topic within the discussion. Just when we finished learning, I began another learning session with a chavruta (learning partner) and unknowingly the section we began to learn was about exactly the same topic we had “side-tracked” to in the learning session just before…”
Sources: Keritut 7a, Rambam Shegagot 3, 10, Rema on O”H 607, 6, Sefer Hebron pp. 155-156
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