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Rabbi Berzansky - Yom Kippur

Joey had committed a capital offense and was now being charged with the death sentence. Although he felt tremendous remorse, the situation looked hopeless, as no lawyer would come to his defense. His family had organized Tehillim rallies and people gave tzedakah in his merit, hoping for a miracle before the final verdict. On the day of the verdict, the judge discharged Joey without any explanation! “Joey, you are free to go.”


The prosecuting attorneys were dumbfounded. “But what about…” “How can you ignore…” “Where is the justice?” they shouted. Despite their cries, they could do nothing, and Joey went home a free man. If we could see what is happening in the spiritual spheres between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we might witness something similar to the aforementioned analogy.

We are all on trial on Rosh Hashanah, most probably guilty and empty-handed, without an optimistic outcome. Chances are there is a surplus of prosecuting attorneys against us, and their claims are quite convincing. Yom Kippur is the day when we will hear the final verdict. Hashem, kaveyachol, will walk into the courtroom and announce, “Klal Yisroel, I forgive you! You are free to go.” All the prosecuting attorneys will be silenced, and the case will be closed.


R. Yechezkel Levenstein describes Yom Kippur as an ocean of mercy. Picture yourself swimming in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. There are six miles of water underneath you and five thousand miles of water in every direction. Now, turn that water into Hashem’s infinite compassion and mercy — an ocean of mercy. That is Yom Kippur, the day when Hashem shows His ultimate dominion and power as He overwrites all the thousands of claims against us and decides to give us life. That is power and compassion in its fullest form.


In addition to Hashem’s compassionate ruling, He also removes our aveiros and the steel barrier that they have formed between Him and us. Chazal tell us that only Hashem has the power to do this, as He personally comes to clean His children from their dirt, like a mother changing her baby’s diaper.


To have the barriers removed is a tremendous gift, and to have our Father in Heaven come clean us on top of that is something that can fill a person’s heart with joy for many years to come. This is truly the happiest day of the year for the Jewish people.


Imagine Joey and his family’s joy when they heard that he had been acquitted. Now imagine the joy and happiness they will feel when they are reunited. This is Yom Kippur. We have been on trial for forty days, awaiting our verdict, and today we hear the words, “Klal Yisroel, you are free to go. I forgive you.” The barriers between Hashem and us have been removed, and we can once again reconnect.

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