Yom Kippur: Love and forgiveness

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.

September 12, 2013 20:22
2 minute read.
Dealing with death

Girls hugging 521. (photo credit: MCT)


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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 transgressions.”

(Mishlei 10, 12) This verse contains a wonderful idea that guides our daily actions, and it expresses one our most noble qualities.

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.

Yom 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!

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz is rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites.

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