By Rabbi Yisroel Ciner
This Shabbos, being Shabbos Yom Kippur, we will not read the regular weekly
parsha. Deviating from my regular format I would like to discuss the
concept of t'shuva - return - and its connection to Yom Kippur.
Chaza"l teach us that t'shuva reaches up to the 'Kisay Hakavod', the throne
of Hashem's glory. What is meant by this throne? We've mentioned that the
Hebrew word for world is 'olam'. Olam also means hidden. The definition of
the world is therefore, the place wherein Hashem conceals Himself. In spite
of this concealment, Hashem's glory must be honored and upheld. The Siftei
Chaim explains that the throne refers to this task of upholding the honor
Who has the job of bringing this honor to Hashem? Chaza"l reveal to us that
the neshamos (souls) of Klal Yisroel are taken from beneath this throne.
The Kisay Hakavod is held up by and comprised of the neshamos of Klal
Yisroel. This means that Klal Yisroel has the task of building the Kisay
Hakavod. Every member of Klal Yisroel has a unique role in revealing this
'kavod shamayim', this honor of heaven, in this world. As one develops in
belief and understanding of Hashem and subsequently is able to serve Hashem
on a higher level, he/she merits to contribute his/her portion to this
T'shuva means to return. Return to where? When one steals there is an
obligation to return the object. Where must one return it to? Back to its
source - to the place from where it was taken! T'shuva therefore means
returning back to our source! Our origin was beneath the Kisay Hakavod.
T'shuva is returning ourselves and our focus to the very purpose of our
creation - the building of kavod shamayim in this world. Honoring His will
is our way of honoring Him - enabling His presence to dwell and be felt in
In order to enable the neshama to 'return' to its source, Hashem created it
with a strong craving to spiritually ascend and draw close to Him. A person
feels a void, a hunger, a feeling that there is something more to life than
the mundane. The physical body, with its physical wants and aspirations,
misleads the person into thinking that materialistic pleasures will fill
this void and satisfy this hunger. When one has one hundred, he suddenly
discerns a desire for two hundred. Upon realizing that wealth doesn't fill
the void, other pleasures are pursued. The only guarantee is a lack of true
gratification. Salt water never quenches thirst. The spiritual hunger of
the neshama can never be satiated by a steak. All of the pleasures of this
world have no allure for a neshama which has tasted the spiritual ecstasy
of closeness to Hashem. It thirsts for that connection and nothing else
will satisfy it. Only through recognizing and trying to fulfill its true
want and need will a person have a genuine satisfaction and sense of
Let's understand the connection between Yom Kippur and this t'shuva...
The Sefer Hachinuch writes that Hashem, with His compassion, designated one
day a year to atone for the sins of those who do t'shuva. From the very
start of creation this day was designated for this purpose.
"Va'y'hi erev va'y'hi boker yom echod - and it was evening, and it was
morning, one day (Breishis 1:5)." The medrash explains that this 'one day'
refers to Yom Kippur. The pasuk doesn't call it the first day, but rather
The Ohr Gedalyahu explains that at that point of time, Hashem was alone in
the world. There was perfect unity and oneness. Even the angels and the
Satan were not created until the second day. From the time of their
creation, the forces of evil were given the ability to appear as if they
have power. On the first day, however, it was perfectly clear that Hashem
alone rules and sustains the world and that there is no other source of power.
The numerical value of the name 'haSatan', the Satan, is 364. The gemara
teaches us that, of the 365 days of the year, there are only 364 days where
the Satan has the ability to mislead. His name, his essence, his ability,
is restricted from one day a year. That day is Yom Kippur. The day where
the state of the world during that first day of creation, the 'yom echod',
That is the day where we can focus ourselves on our source, our purpose.
The day where we can clearly see the only path toward true fulfillment. The
day where, by abstaining from the acts which nourish and empower the
physical, we are able to see through the earthly wants to our true
spiritual needs. The day that is designated for t'shuva - returning to who
we truly are and realizing the potential of who we can be. The day of yom
echod. Yom Kippur.
Good Shabbos and a g'mar chasima tova - a meaningful and uplifting Yom Kippur.
Copyright © 1997 by Rabbi Yisroel Ciner
and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author teaches at Neveh Tzion in
Telzstone (near Yerushalayim).