As Yom Kippur approaches we are getting ourselves geared and prepared for the most challenging day of the year. Not only are we obligated to fast over a twenty four hour period, afflict ourselves by refraining from certain pleasures, but we also spend almost all of our waking hours occupied with intense tefilllah. After all, this is the only day of the year where we must daven five tefillos. Of course this extra effort and stress on heartfelt davening makes much sense since Yom Kippur is the day when our fate for the coming year is sealed. Yom Kippur is the time when the closing arguments of our prosecutors and defense attorneys are presented before the court and the verdict is handed down. Even if we are guilty, now is the time to plead for mercy and compassion by showing our new commitment to change our conduct and attitudes for the coming year.
However, there is another urgent factor behind this marathon day of tefillah which most of us are unaware of and I am about to reveal it to you today. Contrary to popular belief not every one of our tefillos are accepted in the heavens. Each tefillah must undergo through a high quality scrutinized control examination in order to ascertain whether it is fitting to come before Hashem. If they fail to pass inspection they are rejected with the stamp of פסול and the gates of Hashem’s chamber are locked disallowing entry of these tefillahs. They are then placed in a special room waiting for that one special tefillah where the mispallel fulfilled all the requirements of a genuine heartfelt tefillah. For when this quality tefillah arrives it has the super ability to shlepp along with it all the tefillos that unfortunately did not in the past pass the heavenly inspection only privileging them finally now to have a presence before Hashem.
This privilege of a second chance to enter the chamber of Hashem does not last for a limitless time. We are told that Yom Kippur is the last opportunity to qualify for reentry. It is also for this reason that our Chachamim designated Yom Kippur for an entire day of outpouring one’s heart and inner soul. Perhaps at least during one of those five tefillos we will merit to deeply connect with Hashem and send Him that one long awaited for tefillah that will be our protekziah to carry all of our unaccepted tefillos before the Kisay Hakavod.
Who can honestly say that his or her tefillos rise to that caliber of a VIP tefillah every time. The grave risk that lies at stake on Yom Kippur is the loss of over 1,100 of one’s shemoneh esrai’s that are yearning to be redeemed on this day, not counting all the private tefillos and Tehillim that one recited because of a personal or national tzarah. During the tefillah of Ne’eelah when we say the gates of heaven are closing we do not mean they are closing shut only for our tefillos of this day of Yom Kippur. We include in this proclamation that they are closing for good on all the unaccepted tefillos of the past year. Today is the last opportunity and closing date to file for their acceptance before Hashem. It is utterly unimaginable of the incredible powerful effect and persuasion that all these past tefillos will have if they are successfully released and are allowed to come before Hashem at one time.
The scenario that comes to my mind concerning the above is a scene straight out of World War 11 at the train station as Jewish babies, children, and adults are herded into the cattle cars by Nazis soldiers being deported to extermination camps never to be gassed. By the humanitarian efforts of a Swedish diplomat named Raoul Wallenberg a righteous gentile, he was able to save over 100,000 of Hungarian Jews from their imminent deaths. At the train station platform, he frantically handed Swedish passes to everyone he could, even to those who already boarded the train, thereby allowing their escape from the Angel of Death’s clutches.
On every Yom Kippur we as well are as if we are standing on the platform together with all those tefillos that are now being deported and shoved into the cattle cars destined for termination. We as the mispallelim on Yom Kippur are holding the passports to save from extermination over 1,000 tefillos that are begging us to redeem them with only one sincere heartfelt connected tefillah to Hashem. Can we turn our backs on these tefillos and just kiss them goodbye. Right now we have within our very hands the visa to help them all cross the border and enter Hashem’s chamber. Will the apologetic expression of I am so sorry be sufficient for all those thousands of your encounters with Hashem which end up forever barren and then become extinct?
This concept on the power of one sincere and proper tefillah that it is capable to elevate all the past rejected tefillos was stated by Dovid Hamelech in the passuk (Tehillim 102,8) פנה אל תפילת הערער ולא בזה את תפלתם Hashem turned to the tefillah of one who screams and cries out and He did not despise their tefillos. The passuk begins in the singular form of tefillah yet it ends in the plural teffilasam. This teaches that one sincere tefillah whereupon the mispallel cries to Hashem has the power to elevate all his prior rejected tefillos and at that moment Hashem ceases to despise them. This tefillah of the ערער is talking about when the Jewish Nation has no presence of a Navi nor a Beis Hamikdash and sacrifices to atone for their sins. However, there still remains that one special pure tefillah on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur which brings about Hashem’s acceptance of all one’s unaccepted tefillos.
The gematriah of הערער is equal to מתוק sweet. We wish each other with שנה טובה ומתוקה. On Rosh Hashanah night we dip the apple in honey and wish a שנה טובה ומתוקה. Here too the ערער who invests tremendous energy and concentration in just one tefillah of Yom Kippur enables himself to identify with the sweetness of the nature of honey. Let me explain. The Rabbeinu Yona in the sixth perek of Berachos writes that if the bee which is forbidden by the Torah to eat falls into honey, overtime it also becomes permissible to ingest. The reason given is that honey has the nature to transform anything in its midst into honey.
So too, all it takes is this one tefillah of Yom Kippur which has risen to the exalted state ofהערער , that possesses the ability to transform all one’s previous passul and rejected tefillos into now acceptable tefillos before the presence of Hashem. Yom Kippur does not need a symbolic dipping in honey to activate a sweet year. The entire day of forgiveness and turning the unacceptable tefillos into desirable ones before Hashem, gives the entire day the identical nature of honey. This concept is alluded to in the incredible gematriah יום כפור is equal to יום דבש the day of honey.
May we merit to have a gmar chasima tova with an intense sweetness.
©2014 Yeshiva Zeev Hatorah | Jerusalem, Israel