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Please accept my blessings and grant us your blessings

Sunday, 24 September, 2023 - 5:52 am

Dear Friend,

It was unmistakable and immediately recognizable. I am referring to the feeling I felt this morning – the day before Yom Kippur.

This is the first time I actually put a finger on it. Usually I just feel it but don’t recognize it.

It’s a feeling I get once a year, just as Yom Kippur comes but once a year.

I don’t think it’s simply nervousness about leading the services and hoping my words of explanation and speeches will be meaningful and fall on receptive ears and hearts as I don’t feel this feeling on day before Rosh Hashana which requires even more preparation being two days.

Fasting shouldn’t be the issue either as there are several fast days in the Jewish calendar.

I’m not sure I can fully describe the feeling but somehow I feel that you as a fellow Jew who is also just hours away from Yom Kippur, will instinctively understand what feeling I am trying to describe.

It is a feeling of raw emotion which feels somewhat foreign in the mundane surrounding of ‘business as usual’. Rather this feeling politely stays controlled and undercover, building up as the day proceeds and looking forward to the welcome outlet of tears with the face conveniently buried in the Machzor and under the safety of the enveloping Talit in a Synagogue filled with like-minded fellow Jews.

I can also identify trepidation and slight anxiety as the holy day of Yom Kippur nears, but it’s certainly not a feeling of fear as if there was an impending danger, rather a feeling of wanting to be adequately prepared as I stand merely a few hours before something of immense proportion.

The deep emotional feelings of love become accentuated and overflow into tears, when speaking to my father and mother and receiving their traditional blessings before Yom  Kippur or when similarly blessing our children and grandchildren who are overseas. They usually rise to a crescendo when blessing our children who are at home one by one just moments before Kol Nidrei.

It is a feeling of anticipation tinged with an excitement of coming before G-d and expressing my love to Him and recognizing His unlimited love for me resulting in His forgiving of my misdeeds and shortcoming.

Again, I am sure you can relate to what I am saying because you have a Neshama (Jewish soul) just as I do, and the nature of this Jewish soul is that it gets especially aroused on Yom Kippur.

I don’t think I have done the special feeling of Erev Yom Kippur or Yom Kippur justice, but hopefully I have given some words for you to recognize the feelings that you are undoubtedly having.

How do you utilize this feeling to the maximum? Sometimes I think it may be nice to nurture and savor this special feeling by meditating all day in prayer and study. Yet the day before Yom Kippur is coupled with the constant ring of the phone and the buzz of the blackberry as fellow Jews scramble to find a service, a Synagogue, a nearby hotel and a pre fast kosher meal. Should I ever dream of being the slightest bit agitated by having the pre Yom Kippur rapture disturbed by other responsibilities, I have but to recall my revered spiritual master, the Lubavitcher Rebbe ztl who spend most of the day before Yom Kippur distributing sweet honey cake and blessings of ‘Good, Sweet Year’ (click for explanation of this custom) (and here for video)to the thousands who came to seek his blessings on this holy day. I was one of those young men who were privileged to get that special gift of ‘lekach’ and blessings many times and the message should be very clear and deeply ingrained in my psyche.

Yom Kippur is about G-d loving each and every Jew so deeply that He is prepared to overlook their inconsistencies and even their intentional sins because of his existential love. We must certainly emulate him and find every way possible to act lovingly to all of G-d’s children. What better way to prepare for Yom Kippur than to interact with fellow children of G-d. Click here for an inspiring story of love that took place ON Yom Kippur itself. This is why before Yom Kippur its especially powerful and meaningful to reach out to your loved ones, to your friends and even more importantly to your ‘enemies’ and ask them for forgiveness while you too forgive them. For after all, Yom Kippur is about G-d forgiving us for sins committed against Him, for wrongdoings against a fellow person there is no other way but obtaining forgiveness from them.

May I suggest that you take a few moments to learn more about Yom Kippur by visiting our Yom Kippur site.

And lastly may I take this opportunity during these most special movements to ask you for forgiveness should I have wronged you in any way, or not been as attentive to your needs as I could and should have been. If there is anything specific that I may be overlooking you wish to bring to my attention please feel free to reach out to me by email or phone.

May this year bring for you and your loved ones, Goodness and Sweetness of unimaginable proportion in every single aspect of your physical and spiritual life. And may Am Yisrael merit the coming of Mashiach which will herald in a period of peace and tranquility for the entire world, AMEN

Rabbi Yosef & Nechama Kantor

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