Kabbalists teach that holidays are important cosmic windows of specific energies that are available only at certain times of the year. One such window in time is Yom Kippur, which begins tomorrow, the 10th of Libra.
On Yom Kippur we don’t eat or drink because our body and soul elevate to the highest spiritual level. By abstaining from food, drink, perfumes, and even bathing, we disconnect from the physical world so that our connection to the spiritual world is unhindered.
The Arvei Nachal says, On Yom Kippur, we sit next to the Creator as he looks through each day from the past year and makes an account.
Let’s look at the first part of that sentence: ‘sit next to the Creator.’ Can you imagine what you would say? What would be worthy of asking? I have thought about this question, and I would hope that sitting next to the Creator, I would say the following:
“I know there is a lot I want to accomplish in this world that I haven’t.
I know that I need to transform my desire to Receive for the Self Alone to one sharing.
Give me strength and assistance to completely transform so I can accomplish what I came to this world to do.”
The second half of that sentence is truly mortifying: ‘as he looks through each day from the past year and makes an account.’
Most of us would be beyond embarrassed to have the Creator see some of our worst behavior from the past year. But what about the good times? Surely the Creator marks those in our favor, you say. Sorry. The hours you spent sharing and connecting to the Light are not what matters. The Creator counts only the seconds that we are able to elevate ourselves up from chaos in our most difficult times. (Relax, we’re being judged on a curve.) Those are the most important moments of any day.
“Worthy are we if, every day, we have a few minutes that are true work.” – Arvei Nachal
These moments of true work are called bringing light out of darkness and, if in one year’s time a person has elevated 24 hours of Light, then that person is considered righteous. This true work includes fighting against obstacles that would stop us from fulfilling our purpose, pushing ourselves when we don’t want to, transforming judgment to mercy, and not being reactive to difficult circumstances. These are the keys to drawing down the blessings available to us on Yom Kippur. Our goal is to bring Light in abundance, for ourselves, our family and the world.
On the evening of Yom Kippur we wish each other Gamar Chatima Tova, meaning ‘Blessings for Your Year’. It’s more than just a tradition or a social nicety; it is significant because the more people we genuinely wish well upon, the more blessings will come to us – and the more people wish us well the more blessings they will receive. It’s important to do our individual work, but it is also important to assist and support others in theirs.
The most important lesson of Yom Kippur is that for the 24 hours of this window we only experience joy, fulfillment and peace. Because how we experience these 24 hours dictates the manner of blessings that we will get in the coming year.
Once, during all his years of travel, the Baal Shem Tov visited the community of Constantinople, where he met a young couple who was childless. This couple showed him great kindness and hospitality, and he asked them how he could thank them for their generosity. “If you could put in a good word to the Creator to bless us with a child,” the couple answered, “we would be forever grateful.”
The Baal Shem Tov, after a brief pause, said, “God will favor you with a son.” And indeed, this came true. But what the couple didn’t realize is that the Baal Shem Tov brought about this miracle by uttering the unsayable Name of God; barely had this Name passed his lips when a voice came down from the Heavens and informed him that he had forfeited his place in Olam HaBa, the World to Come.
However, instead of reacting with despair, the Baal Shem Tov clapped his hands together joyfully and burst out “Thank you, God, for your mercy. Now I can serve you out of pure love, since I may not expect a reward in the future world!”
The Baal Shem Tov’s loving joy was so pure that he was, in fact, eventually able to enter Olam HaBa anyways.
From the supernal worlds, we can draw blessings according to how we are.” – The Zohar
Being joyful means being connected, without judgment and full of peace. Being sad, disturbed, worried or upset is the last thing you want to feel on this day.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
Ignite your joy by taking your own account of all that you have to be thankful for. Appreciation is the antidote for negative feelings.
Gamar Chatima Tova!
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