Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Erev Shabbos Kodesh - Yom Kippur
9 Tishrei 5774/September 13, 2013

I remember it well. I was learning in Yeshiva Toras Moshe in Yerushalayim. It was a three day Yom Tov just like this year - Rosh Hashana Thursday and Friday, immediately segueing into Shabbos Shuva. Together with a friend I was invited to the Friday night seudah of my rebbe.
We walked into the apartment and were greeted with the ranting of my Rebbe’s annoyed wife who was carrying on about how she had moved to Eretz Yisroel to escape three day holidays (In Eretz Yisroel they only have one day of Yom Tov, with the exception of Rosh Hashana. Hence the only the only possibility for them to observe three consecutive days of forbidden melacha is when Rosh Hashana concludes with Shabbos).   
We then proceeded into the dining room for the fifth consecutive meal in two days. Aside for the white table cloth draped over the table, the table was bare, save for a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label. My Rebbe sat down at the head of the table slammed the bottle down and with a big smile said “Okay, lets eat again!”
If I thought three day Yomim Tovim were a challenge then, it pales in comparison to when one is blessed with a home full of children – and I go to shul for a good part of the day. The poor mothers stuck at home with their dear fledglings look like they are seeking their own miraculous exodus by the time each day is done. 
But finally the kids are asleep and we begin the task of cleaning the house. As we did so each evening I couldn’t help but think of the quote from the wisest of men “Futile of futilities… it is all futile.” After all, why were we cleaning when we knew we would have to do the same tomorrow?
As the brilliant quote I once saw read: “Cleaning your house when you have young children is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.”
But we know that we do have to clean up, because if we don’t by the time Yom Tov is over we won’t be able to find anything (including some of our children). And we won’t be able to get the house back in order until Pesach, when we just discard everything in our path.
The Sefer HaChinuch explains that the day of Yom Kippur is an incredible gift and chessed that Hashem granted us. Throughout the year we sin and unwittingly lose perspective of our real goals and aspirations in life. But then every year we have one day when we wipe away all the grime and muck that has accumulated upon our souls, so that we can begin anew, tabula rasa.
You know that feeling and smell in your car right after you had it thoroughly cleaned? Our neshamos undergo such a thorough cleaning every year on Yom Kippur, so that we can enter the succah joyously, and feel we are entitled to enjoy the Divine embrace.
Yom Kippur is an arduous day, but it is also an exhilarating day. During each prayer we recite the lengthy vidui (confession) – first privately in the silent Shemoneh Esrei, and then together in unison to a seemingly upbeat tune, with conviction and confidence.
It may seem strange to do so, but Rabbi Zev Leff explained it magnificently when he quipped “Do you ever sing in the shower?!”
Yom Kippur is the shampoo of our souls – far above our Head and Shoulders.

    G’mar Chasima Tova
  Good Shabbos & Good Yom Tov,
    R’ Dani and Chani Staum
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