Sunday, February 27, 2011

Yom Kippur: Preparing to appear in front of the King


PURIM is right ahead and until then, I am going to publish some insights. Here is a brief but very interesting introduction providing us with a high amount of thought.

The source is the Talmud Tractate Megillah 13:

It says in Megillath Esther (Book of esther) 2:12:

And when each maiden's turn arrived to go to King Achashverosh, after having been treated according to the practice prescribed for the women, for twelve months, for so were the days of their ointments completed, six months with myrrh oil, and six months with perfumes, and with the ointments of the women.

The Vilna Gaon (Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman Kremer, 1720 – 1797), compares the appearance of the maidens in front of Achashverosh to Yom Kippur, when the Jews are standing in front of the King (G – d) in order to await His judgment. Meaning, we also must prepare ourselves thoroughly. 

Remark: After Achashverosh killed his first wife Vashti, he was looking for a new wife and all kinds of maidens came to Shushan in order to stand in front of the King and find favour in his eyes.Moreover, YOM KIPPUR is a Jewish holiday and Gentiles have nothing to do with it. On Yom Kippur the Jews are standing in front of G - d in order to get judged by Him. Gentiles are being judged on Rosh HaShana.

The kabbalistic book ZOHAR uses the word “Na’arah – Maiden” also for a person’s soul (Neshama). Hence, the verse means that one's Neshamah is given twelve months to prepare to come before the King (G – d).

The Vilna Gaon further comments that G – d only forgives our sins when we seriously repent. When we do Teshuva (repentance) and, at the same time, intend not to repeat the same mistake but try to improve our actions and behaviour.

The ten days of Repentance (Aseret Yame’i Teshuva) between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur would be too stressful and the Jews sometimes exaggerate in their prayers and Teshuva. Therefore, G – d gives us twelve month of Teshuva in order to show our sincere repentance. 

The entire MEGILLATH ESTHER in English


  1. You certainly know the teaching that says that Purim is spiritually higher than Yom Kippur. Why? Throughout the Torah, Yom Kippur is called "Yom HaKippurim" wich litteraly means "The Day That Is Like Purim". The word "like" implies that it is not exactly like Purim and it even implies an inferiority compared to Purim.

    We are also taught that at the time of the revelation on Mt. Sinaï, Jews were "forced", so to speak, to accept the Torah (it is written in the Torah "They stood at the feet of the mountain", but litteraly, it should be read "They stood under (tachas) the mountain", which means that if they refused to accept the Torah, G-d would have crushed them under the mountain. So they accepted. Moreover, how could have been possible to refuse after all the open miracles they saw with their own eyes?). But after the sad happenings that brought the miraculeous happenings of Purim, they accepted it with their whole heart, making Purim a day almost more important than the Matan Torah itself. (Because, unlike the time of Matan Torah, G-d was not openly revealed and there were no open miracles, and His name is not even mentioned once throughout the whole Megilas Esther. But despite all this, they recognized that the hand of G-d was behind all the events, and they believed in Him and accepted His Torah wholeheartedly.) Something we earn and toil for is more cherished than something that is given freely to us. Otherly said, the greatness of Purim comes from the fact that all happened MiMato L'Malo (from below to above), while the Matan Torah is MiMalo L'Mato (from above to below). And this the same with Yom Kippur. On YK, we are automatically forgiven by G-d from the sins we committed against Him, as it is said "On that day, I will grant you an atonement". So, this is once again something that comes directly from above (it may be the reason why the day after Kippur many people resume their life as if Kippur happened some months ago. We cannot fully appreciate what G-d gives us freely). But on Purim, being that G-d was hidden, Jews wre to thing and to introspect themselves. This is why Kippur is inferior to Purim, so to speak.

  2. B"H

    Right, I saw the difference between the Torah acceptance in Talmud Shabbat 88 or 89.