Dvar Torah on Yom Kippur

Coming back to school from a meaningful ראש השנה (Rosh Hashanah), we are continuously learning and preparing for יום כיפור (Yom Kippur). The time in between these two holidays is known as the עשרת ימי תשובה (The Ten Days of Repentance), in which we try to improve our relationships with Hashem and our friends by asking for their forgiveness. After this process packed with much heaviness, seriousness, and solemnity, we joyously celebrate the next holiday of סוכות (Sukkot).

One may question what is the purpose of the juxtaposition of these events which hold such contrasting moods. Why do we endure the weight of the עשרת ימי תשובה (Ten Days of Repentance) to shortly jump into the festivities of סוכות (Sukkot)?

The reason we observe the holidays in this manner is because סוכות (Sukkot) is essentially the culmination of ראש השנה (Rosh Hashanah) and יום כיפור (Yom Kippur). The holiday of סוכות (Sukkot) ties the knot at the end of the High Holidays through numerous allusive references.

First, ראש השנה (Rosh Hashanah) is highlighted by the blowing of the שופר (ritualistic trumpets-Shofar), which consists of 100 blasts. There are 60 blasts of תקיעה (tekia-long blasts), 20 blasts of שברים (shevarim-three short blasts), and 20 blasts of תרועה (teruah-nine rapid blasts). These sounds correspond to the word that describes the long branches used to cover the סוכה (customary hut-Sukkah): סכך (schach). The Gematria (numerical value) of the word סכך (schach) matches the amount of blasts blown for each sound. The numerical value of “ס” (Samech), the word’s first letter, is 60, of “כ” (chaf), the word’s second and third letters, is 20. The numerical value of the entire word adds up to 100, equal to the number of שופר (shofar) blasts on ראש השנה (Rosh Hashanah).

Moreover, the יום כיפור (Yom Kippur) service which was done in the ביתי המקדש (The First and Second Temples) long ago often included an incense offering. The smoke caused by this offering produced a “Cloud of Incense.” This cloud is the source for the “ענני הכבוד (Clouds of Glory)” that protected the Jewish people when they were traveling in the desert. The סוכה (customary hut-Sukkah) that we build to surround us on סוכות (Sukkot) today are meant to commemorate these “Clouds of Glory,” which originated from the Cloud of Incense.

It is needless to say that no aspect of our faith goes without reason, for there is explanation, connection, and value behind it all. As we enter the upcoming holidays, may we open ourselves to accepting the many insights our religion has to offer, as we show our appreciation for the immense potential it grants to us all.

Chag Sameach!

By: Esther Nahon (9th Grade)