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Yom Kippur (5765)
Yom Kippur is the most Jewish of all the Jewish holidays.
On this day; the Holiest day of the year, the High Priest; the Holiest man in existence, would enter the Holy of Holies; the Holiest place in the world.
But, today we have neither a Holy Temple nor a High Priest. Doesn't this lessen the holiness of the Holiday?
Even more; what is 'holiness'? According to the classic Chassidic work 'Tanya' the Jews have a complete monopoly on it; the gentiles may have spirituality but only the Jews have Holiness. But what does it mean?
To understand this here is a story.
Refoel Nuriel is an accomplished artist who lives in London.
Among the pictures he painted is large portrait of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, copied from a photograph, which he decided to present to the Rebbe himself for his birthday.
He stood in the long line waiting before the Rebbe's headquarters in Brooklyn (the Rebbe handed out dollar bills to be given to charity each
Sunday) and when his turn came he triumphantly unveiled his masterpiece before the Rebbe's sharp eyes.
The Rebbe examined the picture silently for a moment and then looked at Refoel Nuriel with an unsatisfied expression.
"You did not paint the hands correctly" he said. "According to the Mystical teachings one must never intertwine the fingers of one hand with the other.
And in the picture they are intertwined."
He saw that the Rebbe was right. In fact it was the only detail that he had changed from the photograph.
"The hands should be like this" demonstrated the Rebbe, folding his right hand over his left.
But Refoel was really disappointed, he had put so much work into the painting, "Yes, of course, I will change it" He said sadly, "But what about the portrait? Do you like it?"
The Rebbe smiled. "The portrait? It is excellent! In fact, it looks better than I do!"
But Refoel was not always Chassid, in fact he wasn't always an observant Jew. And it all began with his daughter.
While other children were speaking at the age of two she still was unable to speak. And even at the age of four and a half she could only scream uncontrollably and throw temper tantrums when she wanted anything.
The doctors couldn't come up with a diagnosis and, as if there weren't enough problems, the girl developed a hernia due to the stress of her frequent fits and the doctors decided there was no choice except to operate.
Poor Mr. Nuriel and his wife were beside themselves. They couldn't figure why this was all happening to them and certainly had no idea what to do.
Now they were faced with yet another dilemma. The doctors said 'hospitalize', but they were sure that it would only further traumatize the poor girl.
Suddenly they got an idea. The only religious person they even vaguely knew was the local Chabad representative Rabbi Rothman. They would ask his advice.
Although the only connection they had had with him was once when he happened to stop them on the street one Succot and invite them to do the commandment of 'Lulov' . still they felt he was a 'holy' person and worth the chance.
When Rabbi Rothman heard their tragic story he immediately advised that they waste no time in contacting the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Brooklyn. Saying "if you think I am a holy then he is the Holy of Holies. If anyone can help then he can."
Several hours later after getting a busy signal non-stop, the Nuriels gave up but Rabbi Rothman did not.
The next morning he called them to report that at two in the morning he got through to the Rebbe's secretaries, made a request, and the Rebbe replied "Tell them 'may you always have good news'."
Mr. Nuriel was not exactly exited or convinced by the blessing. After all this Rebbe, whoever he was, was thousands of miles away in New York. how
could he have any effect in England? But it encouraged him and his wife
sufficiently that they agreed to the hernia operation. they really didn't have much choice anyway, and took their daughter to the hospital.
Just before she was wheeled into the operating room her parents put a small siddur (prayer book) under her pillow and hoped for the best.
An hour later, after the operation, she was wheeled out unconscious and her parents did not leave her bedside. Even in sleep she was restless they only hoped that she wouldn't wake, begin screaming again and reopen the hernia!
Several hours later she opened her eyes. But instead of yelling she calmly felt around under her pillow until she found the sidder, took it out, kissed it and ... in a loud, clear voice began to read!!!
"ADON. OLOM.. ASHER... MOLOCH"!!!
The next day she was singing and a few weeks later was speaking fluently.
And that is how the Artist Refoel Nuriel and family became religious Chassidim.
Not only because of the miracle. but because of the Holiness.
The Rebbe was thousands of miles away, had never met them and had nothing to gain from doing them a favor. They weren't religious people and had almost nothing in common with Chabad.
Suddenly they realized the Rebbe represented Holiness; pure unlimited goodness manifested in this physical world, above time or place.
And the Rebbe showed that through the Living Torah it was in their reach as well.
This answers our questions.
Yom Kippur is holy today even without the Temple or the High Priest.
Because the holiness of the Temple and the Cohen Godol was unlimited and carries on even to this day. In fact it is embodied in each of us when we truly get involved in the prayers of Yom Kippur.
But it is nothing compared to the holiness that will be revealed when Moshiach builds the Third Temple and brings all the Jews to Isreal.
With the Temple intact the Jewish people will be able to do all the commandments.... and this will reveal concealed 'holiness' in each of them.
And finally, G-d will be revealed in the ENTIRE creation!!
So we have what to pray for this Yom Kippur: for the Third Temple, for the unity of the Jewish people, for the revelation of pure Goodness in the world
In other word, for,
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