Yom Kippur 2006

As we prepare for the most holy day of the year, we must focus on this day of Yom Kippur, and prepare to gain from it all that we can. If someone would ask us, “what is the most special part of Yom Kippur”?, what would we answer? Undoubtedly, most people would say kol Nidrei, the emotionally charged beginning to this great and holy day. Certainly that is when most people come to synagogue. However, tradition points to another point in the prayer as the most important part of the day. That is the last prayer of the day, the prayer called neilah, at the closing of the gates of heaven. What is so special about this prayer? Why do we say that this is the most meaningful moment of the entire, year, the moment when the Jew is closest to Hashem? John was a young man who started a part time job at a local restaurant. The first day, as he was bringing a bunch of glasses to the kitchen, he slipped on the tiled floor, and broke all the glasses that he was holding. Red faced, he apologized to his boss, and assured him that this would never happen again. The next night, he was carrying another load of glasses, and as he passed the same spot, he again slipped and dropped his load of glasses. Feeling terrible, he approached his boss and begged him not to fire him. He explained how desperate his family was for the little income that this job brought in, and how their very survival hinged on this. Feeling compassion, the boss gave him one last chance. The next night, as he was walking past the same spot, this accident happened one more time. Is there any hope for John? Will any boss leave him on this job? There is only one way that we could have any hope for John. What if, instead of just apologizing to his boss and saying “I’m sorry”, John came with a concrete plan of action. What if he now told his boss, “I’m bringing my shoes in to put special tread on them”, or “I’m going to pay out of my own pocket and put special things on the floor so that it won’t be slippery”. The fact that he shows a concrete plan of action, that he is going to correct his mistakes may earn him favor in the eyes of his boss so that he may keep his job. This is our situation on Yom Kippur. If we come to Hashem every year repeating the same words “I’m sorry and I won’t do it again”, how long can He trust us? Didn’t we say the same thing last year? If, however, we come with a Kabolo, a specific thing that we have accepted to do we have shown that our commitment for change is genuine. With this we can hope to find favor in the eyes of Hashem and to merit a sweet new year. We now have a little more than 72 hours until the Neila prayer. Let us use that time to plan what specific commandment we will accept upon ourselves at Neila. Wishing you and your family a great Shabbos, an easy fast, and a happy and healthy New Year!! Rabbi Moshe Travitsky