Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Yom Kippur - The YICHUD of God and Israel
Published: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 02:35:40 PM
Number of views: 1347

“For on this day, He shall grant Atonement for you, to purify you, from all of your sins shall you be pure before G‑d.” (Vayikra 16:30)

Jay and the Americans had a hit song in the 60’s called “Let’s Lock the Door.” Jay attended Yeshiva Torat Emet in Boro Park. Was he singing about the NEILA (lock the gate) Prayer on Yom Kippur?

The Hebrew word for the Satan is numerically equivalent (Gematria) to 364. The Midrash explains that during the 364 days of the year, the Satan has the power to prosecute the Jewish People. But on one day, Yom Kippur, he has no authority to prosecute us. Why not?

What would happen on Yom Kippur? The High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies, at which time he was all alone with G‑d. No human being or even an angel was permitted to intrude upon the High Priest’s connection with G‑d.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that each year this sequence is replayed in our own hearts on Yom Kippur. The essence of the Jewish soul is one with the essence of G‑d! As the verse in Devarim 32:9 states “For G-d is a portion of His People.” This bond between us and G‑d is constant and eternal. It is not the product of our efforts. Therefore, neither our thoughts, our words, nor our deeds can sever our connection to G‑d.

This connection, explains the Rebbe, exists above time. But within time, this bond with G‑d is revealed on Yom Kippur. On this Holy Day, every Jew enters the virtual “Holy of Holies” and spends time all alone with his Creator.

This is the heart of NEILA, the final and most important prayer recited on Yom Kippur. NEILA means Locked In. This name is generally understood to mean that the Gates of Heaven are being locked and there are only a few moments left when our prayers can enter. According to Kabala, the meaning is that the doors are locked behind us. Each one of us is “locked in”, alone and united with G‑d.

At this level of essential connection, there is no real existence outside G‑d, and no possibility that the G‑dly soul could be affected by sin. The revelation of this level of connection to G‑d removes the stains and blemishes that sin causes.

This kind of purification and cleansing on Yom Kippur, a natural process for the revelation of our inner bond with G‑d, renews our connection and re‑JEWvenates our connection with Him. This is the meaning of the Talmud in YUMA that the essence of the Yom Kippur Day alone atones. Because on Yom Kippur, our essential bond with G‑d is revealed, and in the process, our spiritual potential is revitalized.

According to the ZOHAR, NEILA is the YICHUD of G‑d – “THE GROOM” with His loving bride – the Jewish People!

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