Kenneth Cohen

Angels on Yom Kippur

On Yom Kippur, there is a custom that men wear a white robe, known as a “Kittel.” Along with the prohibitions of the day, of not eating and drinking, and no leather shoes, we are meant to feel like angels.

Just as angels do not have any physical needs, we put our needs on hold for the twenty-five hours of the Day of Atonement. Some say that we do not even have the temptation of the Yeitzer Hara, on this day, either.

Rav Shlomo Mann pointed out that there are two primary characteristics we know about angels. They are always given only one assignment at a time, and their strength is a G-d given gift.

These two characteristics should be emulated by us, all year round. We must never lose our focus on the primary task at hand. Certainly our goal is to become true servants of G-d. But we should also learn to stay focused on one task at a time. When we try to do too much, we end up accomplishing very little. Like the angels, one task at a time, proves to be very effective.

Like the angels, we must never forget that our strength comes as a gift from G-d. Rav Mann wrote that this simple realization, allows us to tap into strengths we did not realize we even possessed. Although we are concerned that the fast itself is challenging, somehow we are given the ability to get through it each year. We need to remind ourselves at all times that it is Hashem alone that gives us the strength to succeed, and overcome obstacles that we thought to be insurmountable.
So we need to take with us our angelic spirit of Yom Kippur throughout the year, and not forget its messages.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at
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