Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Yom Kippur

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken

Dedicated in memory of Naftoli ben Binyamin Shmuel

As I sit writing this, it seems that the entire U.S. is gripped by the question of one man's guilt or innocence (I assume that most international readers are only more casually aware of "OJ fever"). For some reason, we seem far more worried about OJ Simpson than... ourselves. Each of us should feel, right now, like OJ - knowing that there is judgement, knowing that we have been judged, and not knowing the verdict.

And shouldn't we be worried? We have no Dream Team of lawyers - and nothing can sway the Judge and Jury from full knowledge of the facts. And what are those facts...

When Rabbi Zushya was dying, his students and friends discovered that he was very worried about his Day of Judgement. They attempted to comfort him, telling him that he did great things during his lifetime - and why was he worried about being as great as Moses? "No," he replied, "I'm not worried about trying to be like Moses. No one will ask me why I wasn't Moses. They will ask me why I wasn't Zushya!"

All we are asked to do is to meet our potential! The Jewish philosophers speak of life as a series of little (and big) tests - and we are never given a test that we cannot pass. Inevitably, we reach this point, look back over the year... and we've not performed. How many times have we failed? The lesson of Yom Kippur is that there really is no such thing as a "good Jew." We can only try.

Why, then, are we not worried? First and foremost, because we do not realize what's really happening. But beyond that, we also know that G-d is slow to anger, and very forgiving - especially on Yom Kippur. The power of Yom Kippur is so great that Rebbe Yehudah HaNasi, author of the Mishna, even suggested that this day atones for all but the severest of sins... even if the person does not repent! [See Talmud Shavuous 13a]

So we go to synagogue, knowing that we are judged, but also knowing that if we do commit ourselves to changing, to growing, to doing better - then Yom Kippur will not be a day of condemnation, but one of cleansing and renewal, sending us back out into the world refreshed, strengthened, and ready to try just a bit harder in the year ahead.


Text Copyright © 1995 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.

The author is the Director of Project Genesis.


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

"Steps" in the Right Direction
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Reaching for Perfection
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

Avraham Foreshadowed Self-Sacrifice To Make Aliyah
- 5768

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Abraham's Dwelling
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

Emunah: Keeping the Faith
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5768

Uniquely Human
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5762

ArtScroll

He Thinks Highly of You
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5775

I 'Na' Know...
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

Long Distance Call
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

> Lot’s and Lots of Opportunities
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

The Moral of the Story
Shlomo Katz - 5768

“You Can Take the Girl out of Hicksville, but...”
Jon Erlbaum -

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Lech Lecha
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

Take the Initiative!
Shlomo Katz - 5774

I Lift My Hands
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5762

Enduring Lesson
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759



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