Length: 23 minutes
On the fast day of Tzom Gedaliah, we mourn the death of Gedaliah ben Achikam. We learn a halacha about Shemiras Halashon from the story of the death of Gedaliah. Although one may not accept and believe Lashon Hara, one is supposed to take precautions based on what he has heard. We can apply this idea to our teshuva during this season. Although we believe in our core goodness, we must worry about what we have done wrong and take proper action. Additionally, we learn the importance of judging an action based on its outcomes, not merely its perceived goodness or evil at the outset.
Length: 53 minutes
Yom Kippur is a time when we stand before Hashem like malachim. This is in contrast to Shavuos, when we celebrate receiving the Torah specifically because we are humans, not malachim. When Moshe went up to receive the Torah, the malachim gave him gifts, the most precious of which was the ketores, the secret of stopping the malach hamaves (angel of death). The ketores is central to the avodah on Yom Kippur. Adam’s sin brought death into the world through four senses, but the sense of smell was not involved. The sense of smell connects us to a reality that we cannot touch, something higher and finer, helping us to connect to the spiritual and our relationship with Hashem.
Length: 56 minutes
When we do teshuva, we are expressing our desire to re-commit to Hashem, choosing actions that will enable us to lead a life according to the Torah. Expressing charatah (regret) is making the choice to redefine life according to what Hashem wants, and the desire alone is already considered as an action. Therefore, someone who does teshuva out of love will have his aveiros changes to mitzvos, as his returning expresses a tremendous ratzon (desire) to connect to Hashem.
Length: 1 hour
When we repeat the viduy out loud, we sing it together in a beautiful song. Although it seems strange to be singing a confession, we can learn about the reason from the song of Parshas Haazinu. In Ha’azinu, the song contains descriptions of punishment and difficulty, but it is surrounded with the acknowledgement that Hashem’s ways are perfect and just. When we sing the viduy, we are reaffirming our emunah is Hashem’s righteousness, understanding that everything He does is good for us, and our sins are what makes us unworthy.
Length: 23 minutes
Every day in davening we say the word “chus” in Shema Koleinu, asking Hashem to have pity on us. However, the word chus may have a different meaning, as seen in the story with Yonah and the kikayon (gourd) that was destroyed. Hashem chastises Yonah because he had “chus” on the kikayon-because he cherished it and desired it. When we daven to Hashem, we ask Him for “chus” that He should cherish us and do for us out of His love and desire for us, not merely pity.
Length: 56 minutes
We read Maftir Yonah towards the end of the day on Yom Kippur. The yonah, dove, symbolizes the forgiveness and ability to start anew. We discuss the difference between the Yonah Hanavi and Eliyahu Hanavi, contrasting the tough love and din of the orev (raven) with the softness of the dove. Eliyahu Hanavi called for the din, of Hashem in stopping the rain, and Yonah was upset that Hashem acted toward Ninveh with mercy. On Yom Kippur, Hashem shows us the love of the yonah, acting with a mercy for our sins.
Length: 56 minutes
There are three distinct parts of our prayers on Yom Kippur that unite when we try to explore the depth of what we are doing on Yom Kippur. We say Viduy, confessing our sins, and repeatedly mention the 13 middos (attributes) of Hashem as part of the selichos prayers, and describe the avodah (service) of the Kohen Gadol in the Beis Hamikdash. On the original Yom Kippur, Hashem granted forgiveness to Bnei Yisroel through His 13 attributes of mercy which He showed to Moshe, who was our messenger, similar to the Kohen Gadol who is our messenger in later times. When we invoke the 13 attributes of Mercy, we come to know Hashem, enabling us to have a close relationship and renewed connection with Him.
Length: 58 minutes
In his sefer Nesiv Hateshuva, the Maharal explains how teshuva is able to work, focusing on the richness of Chazal’s expressions. There are 3 core principles that the Maharal uses to explain teshuva, and each one plays a prominent role in our avodah (service) on Yom Kippur. We explore these three ideas: the need to think before we act, the importance of connecting to Hashem and coming closer to Him through our teshuva, and understanding who we really are at the core.
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