If you remember, on Rosh Chodesh Elul (New Moon of Virgo) we learned that Moses went up the mountain and returned on Yom Kippur, praying that God restore the relationship with the people that was lost following the golden calf. Moses prayed at this time, not just for forgiveness but for a restored love and rebuilt oneness.
Some say that Moses opened the viaduct of mercy and love between humanity and God, unfastening a window with his prayers, creating a space for the atonement that takes place on Yom Kippur.
Jerusalem is not a holy city because the Temple was built there, but rather the land itself, since time immemorial, was and is a portal that reveals the most powerful infusion of Light into this physical world.
With that in mind, we know that Moses was not the cause of the opening but rather he had access to a knowledge of what was going on in the universe that made a return to at-one-ment with the Creator possible on this the tenth day of Tishrei (Libra).
What is taking place in the cosmic, on Yom Kippur is some of the most prodigious wisdom the world has ever known. To go into the depths of what Rav Isaac Luria (the Ari) and Rav Ashlag tell us is to understand quantum physics, rocket science, and biblical history all at once. I will do my best, in my simple way, to paint a picture for you of what is taking place within us and in the Upper Worlds at this time.
With the exception of the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the universe was designed with the attribute of mercy. A filter or veil that splits cause from effect—allowing us to transform and change before the consequences of our actions manifest in our lives. However, in this ten day period ending with Yom Kippur, this filter (Zeir Anpin) goes to sleep. Now without it, we experience complete judgment, which we normally consider a negative thing because we don’t want the immediate response to negative actions.
However, can we try to imagine what it would be like if our thoughts and actions were only positive? Judgment would then be a great thing, as we would immediately benefit from those actions, those good seeds we planted right away, without time or space. This is an unfathomable concept. But the possibility of divorcing from ourselves the negativity we have sewn is what we are being given at this time. The purpose of Elul was to uproot all those negative seeds and replace them with new ones. If we left some seeds behind, we have Rosh Hashanah, where we can sever the remaining negative qualities we missed in Elul as the Light from Binah shines down on us without the screen of a sleeping Zeir Anpin.
And then, just before we fully traverse from the male months of the year when seeds are planted (male months begin the first of Nissan and conclude at the end of Elul) into the female months of the year when seeds are manifested (female months begin the first of Tishrei and end in Adar) we are given Yom Kippur. This special day is the final stage of removal, where we can fully isolate those negative qualities and cut them from our being. As the Zohar in the portion of Pinchas says:
“On this day, which is Yom Kippur that is called “holy,” the Tree of Life is in control, and no devil or evil spirit joins with it, and from its side, “nor shall evil dwell with you, (Psalms 5:5) but it is throughout good. And this is why in the Tree of Life, the slaves find rest and go out to freedom, and emerge from their chains.”
In this way Malchut, now unencumbered, can rise to Binah to receive all that Binah can give us. Binah is the storehouse of energy; the dwelling place of the uppermost, purest quality of Light that sustains us for the coming year.
I hope this is clear. Sometimes it is so difficult to use our minds to understand the enormity of this process. So let’s use our heart instead.
I love poetry and language that paints a picture, or elicits a feeling. I often find that simple words can create an imagery that opens our consciousness and understanding. As I was preparing for this article, I came across something I found very beautiful and I hope you do to. It is said that on Yom Kippur we want to enumerate and revisit all that we have done and all the pain that we have caused. Even the best of us, we are reminded, have committed cruelties. And yet, how can we be happy in this knowledge? How can our joy elevate to our highest most pure selves while we are subjugated with thought of our “sins?”
This is so beautiful. Yom Kippur brings an upwelling of joy to the Creator, when humanity expels all of the debris within us, as we stand at the entrance to His Palace. For me, this one moving phrase describes all that is taking place on Yom Kippur as the physical world rises to Binah and we shed that which soils our soul so we may benefit from all the treasure of His Palace.
Chayei Adam writes: “God loves his people for he seeks to be benevolent and does not desire man to die but rather that he repent from the path of evil and live.”
It is important to remember at this time that all God wants of us is to choose to leave behind what separates us from His beneficence. Yom Kippur brings joy to God, and in turn God gives it to all of us out of love.
This is what Moses knew. And now, thanks to the kabbalists we do too.