“There is a custom of referring to the day after Yom Kippur as “the Name of God”. This is because the true greatness of God is revealed after Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur, God is reconciled with Israel [the Jewish people] and forgives them for all their sins. As a simple consequence, all harsh decrees and punishments are lifted – and it is through this that God’s greatness is revealed.”
—Advice (Likutey Eitzos), Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
Yesterday, as we fasted and davened, a feeling of awe and purity washed over us. We connected with the mind-blowing reality that through the power instilled by Hashem in the day of Yom Kippur, we were able to atone for our transgressions and fix the seemingly unfixable. What an incredible payoff for a bit of effort and emunas teshuvah, faith in the power of repentance.
Today all painful decrees are lifted and we can get on with the business of preparing for Sukkos, Yesterday we felt we reached a higher level of closeness to Hashem, and today we feel a bit more secure in our relationship with Him. We’re ready to accept His embrace.
The Arizal tells us the Sukka is a hug—encircling arms and body on three sides, with a place for us to enter on the fourth. Now we’re readying ourselves to run into the arms of the Shechina.
Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus explains that although the in-between days after Yom Kippur until Sukkos have no fasting or confession, they are a very powerful time. He says that as we prepare for the joyful holiday of Sukkos now is a special time in which we are more easily able to embrace the influence of all the teshuvah we did on Yom Kippur “so it will last all year.”*
On Rosh Hashana, we made resolutions to improve. On Yom Kippur, we atoned for the past and were granted a clean slate. Today we’re ready to make and keep those improvements. The time is ripe.
But what if you feel you’ve already failed to live up to the promise?
Judaism Is Not a Diet
Have you ever been on a diet and in one day, ditched it? Maybe you were rushed so you ate breakfast out and ended up having pancakes, an omelette and hashbrowns. Then, since you already ate your day’s quota of (greasy) calories, you decided there was no longer any reason not to have a three-thousand calorie lunch—hello, burritos.
Did you feel like there was no point on going back on your diet, since you blew it anyway? While it may be impossible to undo thousands of extra calories and sugar, no matter how spartanly you eat and exercise the next day, Judaism is NOT a diet.
If you’re like many of us, perhaps after Yom Kippur you slipped up. You already slid back into old patterns—maybe even right after Neilah. A bit of gossip, a touch of irritability or sadness, a dab of doubt, and so on.
But Rebbe Nachman of Breslov tells us: Don’t worry—there is no such thing as despair.
Why? Because we can always start again. (And we can count on Hashem’s love.) The Rebbe tells us that he himself started over many times each day.
The power of the beginning anew never wanes, you can reach for it again and again. Take it a day (or an hour, or a minute) at a time. Remember all the love, hope, and faith you felt at the end of Yom Kippur and make for yourself a new beginning. Then, run don’t walk into the embrace of Sukkos.
Have a Wonderful Yom Tov.
Jerusalem sukka roofs, photo by Yoninah, Wikipedia Commons
*Moadei Hashanah, The Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur