Yom Kippur is a day of repentance, also known as teshuva. The holy day should be a day not feared but rather a holiday maximized and capitalized. Looking back thousands of years you see that Yom Kippur is a special day in the history of the Jews. After bnei-yisrael sinned with golden calf they had to wait a second set of forty days and nights to receive the Ten Commandments. The second set of the Ten Commandments were significant because we did not deserve them but were given them from Hashem out of his own graciousness. The day we received the second set of commandments was the day we were forgiven for our sin and is the same day we now call Yom Kippur.
There are three types of teshuva. The first kind of teshuva is making the wrong right, the second is making the right righter and the third is making the not quite right into right. The first type of teshuva is the “classic” teshuvah in which one must ask G-d for forgiveness on his/her past sins. Most people mistakenly assume that this is the only type of teshuva. However they are wrong.
A person can always improve their actions whether its bettering the quantity or bettering the quality. Bringing oneself closer to Hashem is a very important part of the process of doing teshuva which can lead one to making the wrong right. This especially applies to the strengths of one’s character. One should take his/her strong points and run with it. Always think how can I make those strong points even better? There is always more chessed to do, always a chance to better the quality of the chessed you do. There is always ways to better your mitzvot. After all, these things already come naturally to you. Don’t only focus on the fact that ‘I am bad’ but rather try to think ‘I am good but I can be better’.
Rabbi Sadya Gaon, a great Rav who lived about a thousand years ago, was crying one night. When his students heard him they asked him why he was crying so much. He answered with a story. Rabbi Sadya was traveling to a town late at night and when arriving he searched for an inn. Since the town was small he could only find one inn. He asked the inn keeper if there was an empty room. Without realizing who he was the inn keeper acted nasty and treated him poorly until finally the inn keeper pointed to a barn with a pile of hay and motioned for him to sleep there. With no other choice Rav Sadya Gaon spent the night in the barn. The next morning the inn keeper saw people running to the shul and asked what the commotion was about, only to learn that the great Rav Sadya Gaon was in town and was in the community’s shul. With great excitement the inn keeper ran to the shul and to his surprise and humiliation he realized that the guest he had treated so poorly just that very previous night, was none other than Rav Sadya Gaon himself. The inn keeper fainted on the spot and begged for forgiveness. Obviously Rav Sadya granted him forgiveness and went home. After much thought he turned to his talmidim and said this must be how Hashem feels. Every year each of our relationships with Hashem grows and grows but after a while we look back and realize that we had no idea how great He was, therefore, we treated him poorly, just as the inn keeper treated me. Teshuva is a never ending constant cycle.
Have a meaningful and easy fast and may we all be written and sealed in the book of life!
Girl Studying in MMY for the year