(כִּי בַיּוֹם הַזֶּה יְכַפֵּר עֲלֵיכֶם לְטַהֵר אֶתְכֶם מִכֹּל חַטֹּאתֵיכֶם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה תִּטְהָרוּ.” (ויקרא טז”
Yom Kippur, the day itself, resets us, makes us pure again.
This refers to our relationship with God, who constantly seeks our nearness. “Mikveh Yisrael – Hashem,” says the prophet Jeremiah. Just as the waters of the Mikveh purify the spiritually impure, God himself purifies Israel.
Between me and other people, however, the day atones only if I directly address those whom I have hurt and ask forgiveness.
Part of this brilliant system of teshuva, creating ourselves anew every year, and every moment of every day, requires that I accept responsibility, and consistently try to change for the good.
During the times of the Beit HaMikdash, every Jew who could would come gather in Jerusalem and experience the holy work of the Kohen Gadol. They would not bring personal sacrifices that day, but would focus on the Avoda, as detailed in the Torah and today in our machzorim, that lifted the entire People together to a purified state every year.
For many years, I could never relate to this part of the Yom Kippur prayers. But I am grateful to the artists, teachers and musicians that God has gifted our generation with, who are making this experience relevant again, such as Yishai Ribo’s powerful song “Seder HaAvoda.”
This Yom Kippur may we feel unified and blessed through our communal and personal prayers, as we felt on Yom Kippur when God’s presence was visibly among us, when we saw the string of red turn white and the Kohen Gadol emerge jubilant, and the People sang and danced him to his home.
Gmar Chatima Tova to all of Am Yisrael and a good year for our world.