Kahal Joseph Congregation

310.474.0559 / webmaster@kahaljoseph.org
10505 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025

Rabbi’s Message

Rabbi Natan Halevy

Yom Kippur 5783, BSD

Shalom U’vracha,

May we be written and inscribed for a sweet and healthy year, filled with health, growth, harmony and tremendous success in our spiritual and physical endeavors. 

Yom HaKippurim is the day of atoning, the “Holy of Holies” of the Jewish year. It is a time when we can almost touch the divine presence. We feel the spirituality in the air… 

Yom Kippur is a day set apart by Hashem, a day of rest from many activities. It provides us with a lighthouse on the shore of eternity, a beacon that has cheered guided and sustained us for over a hundred generations.

 We eat a festive meal to prepare for this awesome day, for we are certain of HaShem’s favorable decree. We come as one, dressed in white, signifying that on this holy day of the year, we are like the angels. This day empowers us to master our destiny through intense soul-searching, and sincere communication with the Almighty. 

Our inner search through a year—or a lifetime—of actions, feelings, thoughts requires internal calm. Our calm is enhanced by slowing down of our biological rhythm through fasting, providing a foundation for inner awakening. Fasting on Yom Kippur demonstrates our willingness to submit to self-discipline. Self–discipline is one component of mindfulness. It strengthens our ability to choose among the thoughts and desires we encounter each day, and has the potential to deepen our relationship with Hashem. We are also told that we atone for previous excesses in life by curbing our appetites for one day.  

On Yom Kippur we seek reconciliation with HaShem and humanity. Teshuvah or “Returning to G-d” involves a self-assessment of the past year and the desire to avoid lapses in our sensitivity to Hashem and to others in the future. Teshuvah requires self-discipline. 

An integral part of this return is requesting forgiveness from human beings against whom we may have committed transgressions, in order to wipe the slate of our personal relationships clean before the start of the holiday. Only transgressions between man and HaShem are addressed during Yom Kippur itself. 

As nature has plants and remedies that heal physical ailments, so does Hashem purify our souls on Yom Kippur. The ten days from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur correspond to ten unique energies HaShem uses in creation and in forming our reality. Our souls contain these ten energies starting with the intellectual faculties of the mind.

For example, Wisdom at its inception is undeveloped.  We move from Wisdom to Understanding which develops an abstract idea into a comprehensive plan with steps and organization. Knowledge is useful to put the plan into action. As we enact our plan, Love and Fear, which are our life’s greatest motivators, come into play. These are some of the energies that affect us during the ten most spiritual days of the year.

These ten “Days of Awe” culminate with Yom Kippur, on which we access the deepest part of souls, and the highest levels of the spiritual realms. As the Torah teachings says, Itzumo shel yom mechaper— “the essence of the day atones.” When we reach the essence of who we are, our spiritual core, it is good and there is no sin there. We are completely renewed and this seals our blessing for the entire coming year. 

To enable this process without public shame, on Yom Kippur we say “we have transgressed , we have sinned’, using the plural in our confessions and our prayers. Another we speak in the plural is that society is one organism. We are all responsible to help each other.

There is a story told of a lonely traveler crossing mountain heights of heavy snow. He struggled against the fatal sleep falling over him. Just as he was about to fall asleep, he stumbled against a heap lying on his path. It was a half frozen human body. He held the frozen man in his arms, rubbing his limbs. In his effort to restore another to life he brought warmth and energy to his being, and in this way he was able to save himself and another. This story has much relevance in the realm of souls. We help others and we are really enlivening ourselves.

‘Heaven’s gate is shut, / To him who comes alone. / Save thou a soul, / And it shall save thine own.’

Gemar Chatima Tova

Kahal Joseph Congregation

10505 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025
310.474.0559 / webmaster@kahaljoseph.org