Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Haazinu / Erev Yom Kippur

Rabbi Label Lam

Found Innocent

Rabbi Akiva says, “Happy are you Israel! Before Whom do you purify yourselves and Who purifies you? Your- Father in Heaven! As it says, “The Mikvah of Israel is HASHEM!” (Jeremiah 17) Just as a Mikvah purifies from sins so The Holy One Blessed Be He purifies Israel.” (Talmud Yuma 85 B) For on this day (Yom Kippur) He will make atonement for you to cleanse you from all your sins, before HASHEM you will be cleansed. (Vayikra 16:30) How do we gain atonement through Yom Kippur? Does it work magically by itself? Is there something we have to do?

Many moons ago when I was about to start commuting daily to the “big city” a close rebbe and mentor suggested I do something I never thought I would be able to keep up. He advised that for the purpose of spiritual maintenance that I immerse myself in a Mikvah every day. I agreed to give it a try. I felt a difference almost immediately for some seemingly mystical reason in the quality of my performance. “How does it work?” I wondered. Only later I met these ultra poetic words of the Rambam at the end of the laws of Mikva where he explains the dynamics of a Mikva.

“The immersion to remove oneself from contamination is included in the category of laws known as chukim-statutes because there is no physical dirt that the water removes. It is strictly a decree of the verse and depends upon the intent of the heart. Therefore if the person immerses but decides to remain the same, it is as if he did not immerse himself. The one who focuses his heart is purified even though nothing bodily is renewed because he directed his heart to purify his soul from spiritual contaminants which are wicked thoughts and bad attitudes since he agreed in his heart to separate from these counselors and enter his soul into “the waters of pure knowledge”.

That year on Yom Kippur, right near the end of the fast, before the final prayer service “Neilah” we took a short break. I approached this teacher of mine and expressed to him how much I missed the Mikva on Yom Kippur. Of all the days not to be able to go, I felt deprived somehow of that feeling I was getting used to daily. He looked at me with eyes that shouted but he whispered softly, “If you think that you need to go to the Mikva today, then you don’t understand what this day is about!” He then said emphatically, “You’re in the Mikva, right now! The Mikva of Israel is HASHEM!”

His words changed my experience for the rest of that Yom Kippur and many others to follow. I realized that on this special day we are immersing ourselves in YUD / HEY / VUV / HEY. What activates the cleaning process is the simple thought that we are soaking in the most powerful truly universal solvent and that we wish to remove the all the stains of stupidity that cloud our system. Then the dirt begins to fall away and we only we remain.

Similarly, it has been said that Michelangelo was asked how he carved that statue of David out of a solid singular slab of stone. He is reputed to have answered, “I cut away everything that was not David and there he was!” So it is when we are rid of all extraneous impurities on Yom Kippur, we are once again ­ please G-d- found innocent.

Good Shabbos!


Text Copyright © 2003 Rabbi Label Lam and Project Genesis, Inc.



 






ARTICLES ON NETZAVIM AND VAYEILECH:

View Complete List

Being Serious
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

Parting Words
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5757

Afraid to Miss the Parade
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

ArtScroll

Submit, Admit, and Fix It!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5757

The Whole Year!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

Teshuva—Paradigm Shift
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5765

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Going in the Direction of Teshuva
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

A Higher Holiday
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

"The Man Who Blesses Himself In His Heart Saying..." Wasn't Totally Wrong
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Do It For the Kids
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

The Spiritual Environment
Rabbi Chaim Flom - 5767

The Three Books
Shlomo Katz - 5758

> Rav Chaim Saw In The Pasuk What We See With Our Eyes
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5764

Duality of Emotion
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

“Stay Alert...Stay Awake...Stay Alive!”
Jon Erlbaum -

Our Leaders Define Us
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information