Yom Kippur: Holiness Never Dies


    Yom Kippur: Holiness Never Dies

    Photo: Dov Ber Hechtman/Chabadinfo

    Yom Kippur is the most Jewish of all the Jewish holidays. On this the Holiest day of the year, the High Priest; the Holiest man alive, 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?… Read the rest of this article by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton • Full Article

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    Yom Kippur is the most Jewish of all the Jewish holidays. 

    On this the Holiest day of the year, the High Priest; the Holiest man alive, 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?

    Also, what exactly 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 access to Holiness. But what does it mean?

    To understand this here is a story.

    Refoel Nuriel was an accomplished artist who lived 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 personally for the Rebbe’s birthday.

    He stood in the long line before the Rebbe’s headquarters in Brooklyn (the Rebbe handed out dollar bills to thousands of people each Sunday to encourage them to give charity) 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, smiled a and said, “Thank you. But you did not paint the hands correctly.

    “According to 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, placing his right hand over his left.

    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. 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.

    Although the only connection they had had with him was once when he happened to stop them on the street one Succot, invite them to do the commandment of ‘Lulov’ and they had a short conversation. Still, they felt he was a ‘holy’ person and worth the chance. They would locate him and ask his advice.

    When Rabbi Rothman heard their tragic story, he advised that they immediately contact the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s office in Brooklyn. Saying “if you think I am a holy then he is the Holy of Holies. If anyone can help then he can.”

    So they began calling and after several hours of getting a busy signal non-stop, the Nuriels gave up and went home. 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 on them in England? But at least he gave encouraging words about 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, still 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 siddur, took it out, kissed it, opened it, sat up and … in a loud, clear voice began to read!!!


    The next day she was singing and shortly thereafter was speaking fluently.

    And that is how the Artist Refoel Nuriel and family became religious Chassidim. They realized there was such a thing as Holiness and it isn’t limited.

    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, not limited by time or place.

    And the Rebbe showed that through the Living Torah it was in their reach as well.

    This answers our questions about Yom Kippur being holy today even without the Temple or the High Priest.

    The holiness of the Temple and the Cohen Godol was revealed G-dliness. And Gd is unlimited by time and space. Just as in our story the Rebbe’s holiness cured the girl although he was not physically with her.

    So too the holiness of Yom Kippur is embodied in each of us when we truly get involved in the prayers of the day.

    But it is nothing compared to the holiness that will be revealed when Moshiach builds the Third Temple and brings all the Jews to Israel.

    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 in the ENTIRE creation!!

    So this Yom Kippur we must pray for the Third Temple, for the unity of the Jewish people, for the revelation of pure Goodness and Holiness in the world.

    It all depends on us to make it happen even one moment sooner and not much is lacking. After thousands of years of Jewish hope, prayer and good deeds it could be that now Just one more good deed, word or even thought can bring….

    Moshiach NOW!!!

    Rabbi Tuvia Bolton
    Yeshiva Ohr Tmimim
    Kfar Chabad, Israel


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