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Yom Kippur 5783

October 3, 2022

Rabbi Geier


BS"D || Rabbi Geier

Yom Kippur 5783

The big difference between regalim, festivals, and Yamim Noraim is that in the former, we seek to connect with the Earth, while in the second we seek to connect with the Heavens. We need these days of spiritual cleansing, disconnecting a little from all that is earthly and looking for the connection with our spirituality. And the disconnection is achieved at the precise moment in which we knock on the doors of Heaven and seek to dress in white, imitating the angels, so we can cut even for a day with the material world.

Like angels, we don't eat or drink. Like angels, we separate from our sexuality. As the angels do, we say out loud, “Baruch shem kevod malchuto leolam vaed”. Like the angels we dress in white and we clothe ourselves with the tallit.

Elohai, ad shelo notzarti eini chedai, veakshav shenotzarti, kehilu lo notzarti, afar ani bechayai. Kal vachomer bemitati. My God: Before I was created I was nothing. And now that you have created me I perceive my fragility. I resemble insignificant dust during my life ... what will become of me then at the end of my life? 

(Berachot 17a)

Sometimes we need to do yeridah letzorech aliah—we must descend in order to ascend. Sometimes we must plunge into our wells, into our own darkness and then come out of it correcting attitudes, procedures and mistakes. Our tradition says that this was exactly what Egypt was. A kind of starting over from the beginning to be able to form a people aware of their relationship with the Creator and achieve an elevation in front of Mount Sinai that would lead to a commitment that would be millennial for generations.

But only ascending does not work: it disconnects us from the material world. So “Aseret Yemei Teshuvah” are aliah letzorech yeridah, an ascent for the purpose of descending. The proof of this is that tomorrow we will begin to build the sukkah—immediately after we finish Yom Kippur. A stick, a palm… something must be placed or brought near for its construction despite the fatigue of fasting and prayers —aliah letzorech yeridah. It is the clearest affirmation that we are willing to serve the Creator and commit ourselves with this material and earthly world just at the moment when the highest elevation ends, when we are committed almost like angels. Building the sukkah tomorrow expresses that we understand that serving the Lord is His purpose for us, not only inside the synagogue, but in the REAL and tangible world. It is when each of us stop “being” an angel to become what we are, or what we must be: compromised human beings everyday, not only on Yom Kippur, not only in front of the divine court.

And that's the challenge! Serving God outside the synagogal microclimate. Yom Kippur is then an opportunity. Yom Kippur is an essential gateway that opens wide to us once a year. The opportunity is that of spiritual elevation, that of introspection for each of the bright and dark corners of our souls. It is a gateway to a better life, to a good life in a better world in which WE are protagonists. A better world requires better people. “Kol Nidre”, the prayer with which we begin the holiest day of the year, the Shabbat of the Shabbatot of our calendar, does the times of an imaginary key to open that door and start us in a NEW and, at the same time, KNOWN space that has an aura of mystery and recollection in a day characterized by constriction and deep reflection. Behind the Kol Nidre portal you can hear the powerful melody and the text loaded with drama that inevitably transports us to a time within a time that can only be transmitted from heart to heart, from soul to soul. This opportunity is between men and women, between parents and children, wives and husbands, between children and adults; it is in community.

We always ask to be inscribed in the book of life. It is our desire, our hope and also our effort and our task. This year, though, I want to ask to be deleted from one of the books I'm probably annotated in.

I want to be erased from the book of envy.

I want to be erased from the book of resentment.

I want to be erased from the book of impatience.

I want to be erased from the boredom book.

I want to be erased from the book of intolerance.

I want to be erased from the book of ignorance.

I want to be erased from the book of apathy.

I want to be erased from the book of ingratitude.

I want to be erased from the book of illness and suffering.


I want to be enrolled in the book of family life.

I want to be inscribed in the book of authenticity.

I want to be inscribed in the book of sensitivity.

I want to be enrolled in the Friendship book.

I want to be registered in the book of solidarity.

I want to be registered in the book of helping people to care themselves and take care of those who are around.

I want to be inscribed in the book of mitzvot with kavanah.

I want to be enrolled in the study book of the Torah of life.

I want to be enrolled in the book of community life.

I want to be inscribed in the book of Ahavat Israel, love for Israel.

I want to be enrolled in the book Ahavat Medinat Israel Love to Medinat Israel.

It is my wish that in these books we are all together; that we are enrolled in them as individuals, as families and as a community.

We are human and we make mistakes even when we want to do good. The intention counts, but it is the action that produces the changes. May our good intentions lead to good deeds. May we recognize our mistakes and try to reverse them. May we be humble to hear forgiveness and generous to forgive. May all these things and the messages that we have been receiving these days enlighten us and open our hearts to improve and be able to live in peace with ourselves and with those around us, in the construction of a better world. LeTikun Olam.

Gmar chatimah tovah!

Tzom kal.

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