11 Cheshvan 5781 / Thursday, October 29, 2020 | Torah Reading: Lech Lecha
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A Sauna for the Soul    

A Sauna for the Soul

Yom Kippur is such a serious day, a day of introspection and soul searching. At the same time it is a Yom Tov, a holiday. We fast and repent, yet we light...


Yom Kippur. I can't help but shudder. Time has gone by – rushed by – and I feel so far away. The Gates of Opportunity are closing; Hashem, help us to return to You!
It's incongruous. Yom Kippur is such a serious day, a day of introspection and soul searching – a day in which we tear open our hearts and cry out to our Creator. At the same time it is a Yom Tov, a holiday. We fast and repent, yet we light Yom Tov candles, dress in our Shabbat best, and rejoice in our holiday. What in the world is going on here?
The following parable will help us understand:
Every Sunday morning, Yitzchak traveled to the quarry in the next town, where he toiled from dawn to dusk. It was hard, exhausting work. At the end of the day, he rushed through his evening prayers, ate a quick meal and collapsed into bed.
But on Friday afternoon, when Yitzchak finished work, he would place a huge pot of water over the fire and heat it until it was almost scalding hot. Then, he would jump into the hot water and start scrubbing away an entire week's worth of grit and grime. It wasn't easy, and more often than not it was downright painful, but it felt so wonderful to finally be clean that despite the discomfort, Yitzchak would find himself singing in joy.
* * *
That's the joy of Yom Kippur. With each layer of grit and grime - the resentment, anger, jealousy, pride, arrogance, etc. – that we scrub away with our tears and sincere repentance, we experience a newly found freedom, a cleanliness, a closeness to Hashem that is exhilarating. And, like the Yitzchak in the parable we burst into song!
May we merit to become truly clean.

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