Weekly Reading Insights:
Yom Kippur 5778


Overview of the Torah Reading

To be read on Yom Kippur-Shabbat of 10 Tishrei 5778 /October 16

Morning Torah Reading: Lev. Chapter 16; Num. 29:7-11
Haftorah: Isaiah 57:14-58:14

Afternoon Torah Reading: Lev. Chapter 18:1-30
Haftorah: The book of Yona



An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

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: "Search for G-d where He can be found, call to Him when He is near" (Yeshaya 55). These are the 10 days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (Talmud Rosh Hashana).

"Search for G-d where he can be found." During these days, G-d is present in each and every Jew as a matziah, like something discovered or attained without any effort. This could be an advantage, but the verse is teaching us that to be truly complete, we have to make an effort too - we have to "search". What is the appropriate effort required? Even though He is found, we have to outdo ourselves with searching for Him. How? By doing t'shuvah - repenting.

A man came to Rebbe Yisroel of Ruzin. Rebbe, he said, I am a sinner and I want to do t'shuvah. OK, answered the tzadik, so why don't you do it? Because, the man answered, I do not know how. How did you know how to sin, the tzadik asked him? The man answered, I acted and afterwards I realized I had sinned. The tzadik answered him, Do the same thing now, start by returning from your negative actions and the process of t'shuvah, the repairing that is required, will happen automatically.

"Call to Him when He is near." Similarly, during these days, G-d is present in each and every Jew in a way of closeness. Everything that a person receives is given from on high with only the most positive divine countenance. This too could be an advantage, but the verse is teaching us that to be truly complete, here too we have to make an effort. What is the appropriate effort required? Even though He is close, we have to call to Him. G-d will come close to us even without our making an effort, but we only become complete when a person adds to this closeness through his own efforts. Though our calling to Him, we succeed at bringing Him from concealment to revelation. How? By calling to Him truthfully, without any compromise.

Rabbi Yitzchok Luria, the Holy Ari, the great kabbalist of Safed would cry on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. It is said in his name that a person who does not cry on these days, it is an indication that his soul is not complete.
(Adapted from a talk by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, 5714)

The Holy Temple in Jerusalem all year round had regular Cohanim bringing the offerings, as well as the High Priest. On Yom Kippur only the High Priest served. In Judaism everything physical has a spiritual counterpart. When the temple was destroyed, only the physical temple of stone and wood was destroyed, but the spiritual temple was given over to the soul of the individual Jew.

Just as the cycle of the year passes for the physical temple, so it is for the spiritual temple. So, when Yom Kippur arrives and only the High priest serves, who is that High Priest in the holy temple of our soul? We are! Yom Kippur is the day when we must serve alone. We can not rely on our rabbis, or our teachers, our friends or our family. We can rely only on ourselves to find that right place for us to connect to G-d Almighty. And, just as it was in the Holy of Holies, where just a few words of the High Priest would draw down divine blessings for a good and sweet year for the High Priest himself, his family, the Jewish people and the entire world, so also, we have to know that it is not about quantity, but rather about quality. A few words, in the right way, from the right place, will bring the desired results.

G'mar Chatima Tova, Shaul

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For last year's essay by Rabbi Leiter on this week's Reading, see the archive.


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Laws & Customs

The Dynamics of Forgiveness

By Avraham Sutton

There is an important custom before Kol Nidre for everyone to forgive everyone else for whatever wrongs they may have committed against us. When one forgives everyone else, then G-d can forgive him as well. Lack of forgiveness prevents one from getting close to G-d

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