This Shabbos we observe the most solemn day of the year, Yom Kippur. Jews across the globe flock to Synagogues to reconnect with their Creator. As we mark this day, thought of the purpose of life and what our goals are come to mind. We pledge to be better Jews next year, and move on. As the year goes on, Yom Kippur often become a memory; our good intentions that we had in mind dissipate; before long we find ourselves back to where we felt we were before last Yom Kippur.
Does such a Yom Kipper have any value?
1) The Mabit points out to us, that when a person sincerely repents on Yom Kippur, even if he or she he later goes back to his or her previous sin, the repentance is not wiped away. Rather, we say that in the time it was made, the repentance was real; the person simply found a later challenge that they were unable to withstand. This beautiful idea assures us that any sincere feelings of repentance that we have over Yom Kippur will count for us, even if the temptation that attracted us to sin now pushes us to repeat the sin afterwards.
2) There is another point. Imagine we have an oven that gets dirty. We are all aware how dirt in an oven can build up. If the oven is cleaned once in a while, even though it gets dirty again, it can be cleaned off. However, if one doesn’t bother cleaning the oven for an extended period of time, the dirt becomes caked on to the oven. Once that happens it becomes almost impossible to clean up.
This is true of each of our souls. When we have Yom Kippur to clean ourselves off, even though we may eventually sin again, the soul can be cleaned off. Without the experience of Yom Kippur, the effect of the build up of years of sin could be so devastating to the soul that cleaning it would be close to impossible.
3) Finally, let us not kid ourselves. We can make a lasting change on Yom Kippur. We can walk out of Yom Kippur a different person. Especially at the Neilah prayer, where we are taught the importance of accepting upon ourselves something new to do this year, we can make a difference in our life that will bring permanent results. If we really set our minds to it, if we really give it all we have got, we can make this Yom Kippur a turning point in our life that will enrich it forever.