The name of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which falls on Shabbat this year,
symbolizes its basic essence: The day on which G-d forgives for the less
desirable actions of His nation.
When we delve into the significance of
this day, we may ask ourselves a bothersome question: Why should G-d forgive us?
We sometimes feel that we do not deserve this. This feeling intensifies
especially if we do not notice a big, practical change in our behavior and it
seems to us that our lives after Yom Kippur continue in the same vein as before
Yom Kippur... To understand the concept of “forgiveness” when relating to the
relationship between us and G-d as well as in terms of forgiveness between man
and his friend or between man and his wife, we must note the words of King
Solomon in the Book of Proverbs: “... love covers all
(Mishlei 10, 12) This verse contains a wonderful idea
that guides our daily actions, and it expresses one our most noble
Every parent to children is well aware of the following
phenomenon: It happens that a son or daughter behaves in a way that does not
make the parents happy.
The child disappoints, rejects the education he
received at home, behaves in a way contrary to his parents’ expectations, and
the parents worry and may even be angry with him. But every parent knows that if
that same child who so disappointed is suddenly in any kind of distress, the
first who will rush to his aid will be his parents.
Why is that? For one
simple reason: because “love covers all transgressions”! The love of parents for
their children is not dependent on a specific situation or behavior. That love
is absolute. Even if it sometimes dims and other emotions overwhelm it – at
moments of distress or trouble, that love will rise to the surface and overcome
all other feelings.
This is the amazing human nature, and it is also the
basis of G-d’s forgiveness of us if we did not behave appropriately.
Kippur is the day when the love of the Blessed be He “beats” all! This the day
when G-d calls out to us: “Return to Me and I will return to you”! The day when
we stand before G-d as children before their father and hear the Divine call “I
forgive”! If we succeed in connecting to the incredible beauty of this day, we
will feel the purifying forgiveness, the endless love of the Blessed be He for
us – His only children, and with G-d’s help, that feeling will accompany us even
after Yom Kippur ends and we will be blessed with a shana tova!
Rabinowitz is rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites.