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We Don’t Know Who We Are

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

Another Yom Kippur. How is it that we haven’t changed so much since last year? Last night I heard one of the greatest Rabbis in L.A. speak. He explained that we focus too much on the symptoms of our behavior, but not on the root cause. He said that if we only knew how G-d sees us: as a special and holy people, and amazing, unique individuals, we wouldn’t sin nearly as much. The “Al Chet,” is the confession of sins that we say over and over again on Yom Kippur. “Chet,” means a sin done by accident, out of negligence. Another common word used for sin in Hebrew is “Avera,” which literally means “missing the mark.” On Yom Kippur, we must know that our negative actions are not who we are. Our essence is good; more than good, it is Divine.

The Talmud teaches that if we do teshuvah on Yom Kippur out of a love of G-d, wanting to be close to Him, rather than out of a fear of G-d, scared of punishment, then our transgressions become mitzvot! This is an amazing idea. Through love of G-d, our sins can become merits.

The Rabbi ended by sharing a secret for securing a year of blessing on Yom Kippur: Pray for someone else, for other Jews. When Hashem sees that His children care about one another, it increases His mercy.

We should have an easy and meaningful fast and Yom Kippur. When the final shofar blows after Neilah, we should rejoice, confident that we have a clean slate. To see an example of such rejoicing (and teshuvah from love), check out this video from Aish Kodesh, my shul in Woodmere, New York.

(Source: A Great Rabbi in L.A. Who Wishes To Remain Anonymous)

Resource Suggestions: 

  1. Aish.com Yom Kippur E-Book (An inspiring e-book to take to shul)

  2. A great article on the real definitions of teshuvah, tefillah, and tzedakah, which are often mistranslated.

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