Yitzchak Ginsburgh
Head of Gal Einai Institutes, authority on Kabbalah and Chassidut

Yom Kippur: Fasting. And Enjoying it.

We fast on Yom Kippur. We do not eat, we do not drink and we also abstain from other physical pleasures. Yet Yom Kippur is the “Shabbat of all Shabbats” – and Shabbat is a day of pleasure. Furthermore, Yom Kippur is not just another Shabbat. It is the “Shabbat of all Shabbats,” the pleasure of all pleasures – the greatest pleasure of all. How could it be that a day that is designated for abstaining from physical pleasures is also the greatest pleasure of all?

In Psalms it is written “to enliven them with hunger”.  There is a certain type of hunger that enlivens us. Usually, a hungry person is low on vitality. But on Yom Kippur the verse says that we are enlivened by the hunger. We actually receive vitality from fasting. We fast and feel joy and pleasure of all pleasures from not eating.

There are two days a year on which we fast for over 24 hours – from sunset to nightfall the next day. Those days are the 9th of Av, when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed – and Yom Kippur.

The great tzaddikim said that even if we were not commanded to fast on these two days, we would not eat.  On Tisha B’Av, who can eat? Who is able to eat while the Holy Temple is being destroyed? Who can eat when the Nation of Israel is being destroyed?

On Yom Kippur, who needs to eat? When there is such a holy day, with so much light, when we are likened to angels, when we wear white and pray five distinct prayers, who needs to eat? Food is superfluous. Yom Kippur is a day that is totally spiritual. It is all Godliness.

May we merit a Yom Kippur like this, and then, for the rest of the year, may we cling to God, merit the Mashiach and the true and complete redemption.

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About the Author
Rabbi Ginsburgh was born in S. Louis, Missouri in 1944. He initially pursued an academic career in mathematics and philosophy, later studying Torah under the guidance of several great sages–most notably, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rabbi Ginsburgh made Aliyah to Israel in 1965. His familiarity with mathematics, science, philosophy, psychology and music has enabled him to lecture throughout Israel, relating the ancient wisdom of Torah to many currents trends in academic thought and art.
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