Posted on | September 23, 2009 | By Guest Contributor | 1 Comment
by Rabbi Mordechai Rhine
The day preceding Yom Kippur is an anomaly on the Jewish Calendar. Although Yom Kippur is a solemn day, the day before it is a day of semi-celebration. We do not recite tachanun; it is a mitzvah to eat and drink. What is the significance of this day before Yom Kippur?
Some people will answer that the eating and drinking is simply a health precaution, preparing for the long fast of Yom Kippur. But as with all observance I believe there is a deeper message.
Not long ago, in a large city called Humanville, USA there was a terrible crisis. The largest company in the region, the employer of thousands of workers, was about to be closed down. Apparently their business had been run with enormous carelessness. Record keeping was seriously flawed. In fact, during a recent audit it was discovered that even the computer programs were messed up. In many cases assets were showing up as debts, while many debts were not being reported at all. Shareholders who heard the news were ready to sue. The Feds were appalled and threatened to close the company down. For over a month there were rumors that everyone would be getting a pink slip within days.
Suddenly there was hope. A certain expert, we’ll call him Mr. Fix It, called the CEO and offered to help. After checking Mr. Fix It’s credentials, the CEO decided that it was really worth a try. The CEO hired Mr. Fix It for an amazing 25 hours. The goal: To assess the problems, and to revamp the company.
Come join us as we eavesdrop on the CEO as he dictates a memo to the staff regarding the visit of Mr. Fix It.
“…all files are to be made available… all computers are to be at his disposal…staff shall be totally focused on ensuring that the consultation with Mr. Fix It is a productive one… There will be no cover-ups…all problems shall be identified and a recovery plan shall be put into place…”
The hope for recovery spread quickly. Although the staff knew that the consultation day would be a grueling one, they began to look forward to it because it provided a chance for salvation. The day before was celebrated in the cafeteria like a holiday. Hope for the company’s future, the city, and their jobs, had been rekindled.
The message of Yom Kippur is much the same. For a month now we were warned of a judgement day. Rosh Hashana came and we were judged. But we might not have fared as well as we had hoped. Perhaps our priorities were not found to be entirely in order. Sometimes we did mitzvos and then regretted them. Other times we considered our shortcomings as if they were assets. Our accounting books were a mess, and we feared that we might get closed down.
Suddenly a glimmer of hope appeared in the form of Yom Kippur. We are told that Hashem Himself is willing to do a Fix It type of review of our holdings. Aware that we are human beings with human failings, He is willing to give us another chance. During the 25 hour review nothing will be withheld. Infractions will be identified and a recovery plan put in place. Through our beloved machzor prayer-book we are confident that a full point checkup will be administered effectively.
The day of the review will be a challenging day. First the problems will be identified, and we will think that all is lost. Then Mr. Fix It will insist that there is hope, and He will propose a solution. We may be comfortable with the solution, or we will counterpropose one of our own. But if we cooperate with the review, we know that within 25 hours our company will be well on the way to recovery.
So as the day of review nears, hope fills the air. The day before Yom Kippur is a day of hope, a day of happiness. Eat, drink, and be ready, for tomorrow we will live.
Rabbi Mordechai Rhine, originally of Monsey, New York, is the Director of TEACH613, an organization which promotes Torah and Kiruv programming in the Cherry Hill/ Philadelphia area. He is the Rov of Young Israel of Cherry Hill, and the author of a popular book, “The Magic of Shabbos: A Journey Through the Shabbos Experience,” (Judaica Press, 1998). To invite Rabbi Rhine to speak in your community, please contact him at RMRhine@Teach613.org or 908-770-9072.
Rabbi Mordechai Rhine
Young Israel of Cherry Hill