Thursday, October 02, 2014

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Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur


 

     One of the more emotional moments of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur prayer service is when we call out; Teshuvah-Tefillah-Tzedakah (repentance-prayer-charity).

     The main objective of these holidays is for each of us to take a realistic account of where we are in our spiritual lives, and to motivate us to turn higher.

     We know that Hashem is going to judge us favorably because He is merciful, but still, He can only give us what He wants to give us if we cooperate with Him. In order to cooperate with Hashem, first we have to be honest about our current behavior, and then to sincerely want to improve. Then, if we want to improve, it is not so very hard to take the right steps.

     Above each of these words in the holiday prayer book is a word written in a different script that tells us what steps we can take to accomplish that particular deed; above Repentance is "fasting," above Prayer is "voice," and above Charity is "money." These are the obvious tools that we can use to accomplish those goals.

     Fasting is a tool for repentance. Voice is a tool for Prayer, and money is a tool for giving Charity. But there is more to be learned from these words. Why did the sages insert these very words instead of any number of other words that could explain these concepts? Because each of these words has the same gematria (numerical value).

     Each letter in Hebrew is also a number. The numerical value of a word also teaches us things about that word.[i] In this case the sages were telling us that each of these steps in repenting is equally as important as the others. We need them all in order to accomplish the goal. There is no repentance without prayer and charity; and prayer without deeds is surely insufficient. Even charity, as important as it is, will not accomplish the goal without repentance. They are all needed.

     But as essential as these tools are, they cannot accomplish the goal without one additional ingredient. There is no repentance without joy.[ii] If you truly repent, you are going to feel very happy.

     Have a happy Yom Kippur.

 



[i] See, "Gematria - Spice of Torah",  Judaica Press by Gutman Locks

[ii] Deuteronomy 28:47

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