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Weekly Hashkafa Shiur #110 - Hurricane Ian and the Revelation of God from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur

Given 10/03/2022 by Rabbi Mendel Kessin

Dedication and Introduction

This shiur should be a merit for the health and success of the families of Regina bas Yosef Reuven, Yishaya ben Israel, Benyamin Wolf ben Zvi Hersch and Baruch ben Binyamin Wolf.

Tonight, I want to give a shiur about what really happens on Rosh Hashanah and the aseret yemei teshuva—ten days of atonement and Yom Kippur. Last week I spoke about that and I had spoken about what are the dimensions of Rosh Hashanah, which is really very important. The concept is that we are in a process of doing a tikkun, a rectification of the Creation by bringing G-D back and, therefore, every endeavor needs some type of evaluation to see where it stands; is the goal being achieved or not?

Therefore, last week, I had gone into the concept that Rosh Hashanah is really that. That's really what it does and if anybody wants to listen, he should listen to last week's shiur. This week I want to go into the idea of Rosh Ha’shana and Yom Kippur, because we are really one day away from Yom Kippur, so I want to explore it on a much deeper level, one which is really fascinating.

Before I start that shiur about the real holiness of Yom Kippur, what happens, I want to talk about what is on so many people's minds in America. What lies behind the cataclysmic event that has happened in America and, of course, I refer to the hurricane that has destroyed a great deal of Florida, an event which is astounding. It was massive; it covered much of the state of Florida. It destroyed a great many areas within Florida and up into South Carolina. Why did Hurricane Ian come, this particular hurricane? This phenomenon tells us many ideas about how G-D runs His world in terms of justice.

Justice, Measure-for-Measure, Far-reaching Affects

What people have to understand, but most people don't because we don't realize the measure of din—judgment, the concept of “retribution” as a response to judgement. It is an integral part of the Divine system of justice and judgment. When G-D created the world, He created the concept called “middah k’neged middah”—measure-for-measure. That term means that, whatever a person does, he is responsible for that. There's a true accountability for whatever he does and that's called “middah k’neged middah.” A person is responsible; there's an accountability for the exact measure of whatever he performs. And it's exact. The precision is awesome.

The interesting thing about it is that only G-D can measure how much of a cause a person really is. We don't really know because a person's behavior influences not only himself, but his neighbors, the city he lives in, the state, even the country. We don't realize how far-reaching can be the effects of behavior. G-D does, however, know. If somebody does something, he may think: well, it's only local; big deal! or it's not going to really influence that many people to do evil or whatever. But that's not true because we don't realize the pervasiveness of a person's actions, but G-D does. He knows exactly what a person's behavior will yield in terms of influencing others, and if a person's behavior is bad, evil, corrupt, then he may not realize what type of corrupting influence that has. But, like I said, G-D does and justice demands that he be recompensed for every iota of the evil that he does, even though he's not aware of the pervasiveness of his actions.

It's a very important concept, that when a person does something, he doesn't really know how far it goes and, not only that, he also doesn't know that, even if it doesn't affect people immediately now, it may affect somebody fifty years from now. For instance, let's say somebody writes a book, a bad book filled with corrupting ideas and sexual perversion, or whatever. Twenty years subsequent to that person's writings, somebody picks up that book, reads it, and is influenced to do evil. The author doesn't know this consequence when he does it, that it's going to affect somebody twenty years from then, but that is taken into consideration.

A person, while alive, does not know how far his evil will reach because that evil can continue for hundreds of years in its repercussions. G-D knows exactly the effects, how far it's going to reach, and how much of an influence it will have for all future generations. Could you believe this? It's incredible! G-D knows precisely, with incredible exactitude, the effect of that evil, and justice demands that the perpetrator have visited upon himself the retribution of the evil that he generated or caused. So that's the first thing, that we really cannot judge based on such far-reaching implications. This determines the acts of G-D when He punishes.

The second thing people do not realize is that, even if they don't commit the evil themselves nor are aware of its immediate or long-term after-effects, their silence might, in some way, allow the evil to exist. If so, then they are considered as having contributed to the existence of that evil and they are, likewise, punished.

Could you imagine what that means? If you cause evil by committing an act, or even if you don't cause it but could have prevented it or, in some way, contributed to the evil that was done by somebody else, then you are punished even though you may not even know what that other person did. Only G-D can measure that, the concept of the “nature of a contribution” to that evil and He knows exactly what it is.

There’s a famous quote by Edmund Burke which said, “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.” That's a very profound concept. In other words, you didn't do the evil; somebody else did but, if you could have prevented it, then you are, likewise, guilty of doing that evil but, of course, not to the same extent, obviously. But since you could have prevented it, you are called “a contributor” to that evil, even if it's subtle. You created a certain atmosphere in which that evil could flourish so even, though you didn't do it, you are guilty though not with the same level of culpability as the person who did it.

Within the concept of “din,” anything—and I mean, anything, and in any way, that evil happens—can be applied to you even though the punishment to you may be much less severe because your involvement was indirect. But you are considered guilty. It's a very important concept.

That is the concept of middah k’neged middah, that when G-D says there is a concept called “justice” and every action must have a reaction—like Newton's law in physics—it means that any action, whether it be direct, indirect, committed, or committed through omission, it doesn't make a difference! Any kind of evil that can be ascribed to you must be recompensed and therefore you pay a price.

Only G-D knows and He's the only one that can measure this, obviously, because that's how subtle all of this is, but these are the repercussion of evil. And the truth is, when you think about this, it is totally, absolutely, frightening because we don't know the repercussions of our actions. That it must be recompensed is frightening! This also explains a great deal of what happens in the world, as I will demonstrate.

Case in Point: Matan Torah

Where do we see this? Like I say, it's really very frightening. For instance, let's take an event in the Torah. The Jews sinned by the Golden Calf by Matan Torah, when G-D gave the Torah. They thought Moshe Rabbeinu was late and they decided to create, manufacture, a golden calf and to worship it. About three thousand people died as punishment. If that's the case, why do all the Jews have to be punished? The punishment of the cheit ha'egel—Sin of the Golden Calf goes down through all the generations; it's terrible! But they didn't do the cheit ha'egel. Only the Eirev Rav did it, so why is everybody guilty? Why does everybody have to suffer for the sins of a few or, I should say, ‘the relatively few’? Three thousand people isn’t that much, you see.

But the answer is because, in some way, the Jews are guilty, all of them. They allowed, tolerated, the Eirev Rav’s perpetration of the cheit ha'egel. By not trying to prevent that, they, in some measure of the reckoning of justice, are held guilty. Of course, the guilt is not the same as the people who actually worshipped the golden calf but, since they could have stopped it, the worship of the calf, they are considered as if they had sinned though they carry less culpability. Therefore, it's collective guilt.

Only G-D can decide and measure a person's level of culpability. But remember, nevertheless, it's there! That shows that, since the chet ha'egel is one of the greatest sins ever committed by the Jews collectively, we can begin to imagine the seriousness with which G-D looks upon the effectuation of a sin or acts of evil; it's very bad. That's a very important concept to remember.

There's another story from the Book of Joshua as an example. After Moshe Rabbeinu died, Yoshua crossed over the Jordan having been commanded to take down Jericho, which he did. They were commanded to go to another city called A’i and conquer it but refrain from taking any of the spoils of the city of A’i, nobody. One person named A’chan violated that. He took whatever he took, violating the direct command of G-D. What happened? Was A’chan punished?—yes. But everybody was punished because, when they went to war to capture the next city, they lost. They actually lost, even though they had the promise of G-D's protection and would be victorious.

Everybody was punished because of A’chan, but why? The Jewish people should have created an atmosphere, some type of a feeling, that you must not violate a direct command of G-D. They should have instilled within each other the fear of not violating a command of G-D. Had they done that, A’chan would likely not have done the sin because he would have absorbed the seriousness of a Divine command. Could you imagine that? That's what they should have done and they could have prevented the transgression.

Look how remote is the guilt of everybody. If you walk over to anybody and say, “Wait a minute! A’chan should be punished because he violated the command of G-D, but nobody else should be punished. They didn't commit any crime—nothing! Why must they suffer the loss of the battle?” In some way, they could have done something to facilitate a way of thinking that you cannot violate the command of G-D. They didn’t and so, therefore, they were remiss. It's astounding, isn't it?

G-D decided that justice is not simply a matter of having committed a bad act. It’s not even whether that act has an effect right then and there, perhaps with a person that you have direct contact with. If somebody is affected three hundred years later by something you did, that is put at your doorstep. That's the concept of “cause,” under the heading of what G-D considers “din.”

Another Case-in-Point, Hurricane Katrina

Why am I telling you all this?—because it explains a great deal of the actions of G-D. In 2005—if I remember correctly—‘Katrina’ hit New Orleans. I gave a shiur about that soon after it happened. I mentioned that Hurricane ‘Katrina’ hit New Orleans—I think it was on Sunday/Monday—and the levees overflowed because New Orleans is below the sea level. The water inundated, flooded, destroyed New Orleans.

The question is: why? What was the collective guilt of the whole of New Orleans, the entire city? I realized the answer and I mentioned it in that previous shiur. It was because, on Wednesday of the week ‘Katrina’ hit, there was supposed to be a celebration of their annual “holiday” called “Southern Decadence Day.” It's an annual event when all types of sexual promiscuity, deviations, LGBTQ—type activities are tolerated openly, even by policemen, and it's done publicly in the streets of New Orleans.

So, G-D brought a mabul—flood. That's one of the reasons G-D destroyed the planet in the generation of Noach, because of the sexual promiscuity and deviancy that happened in His day, right? He destroyed the entire Earth. New Orleans was going to celebrate a holiday, though it wasn’t a legal tradition, were scheduled to hold a demonstration of tolerance for such behavior. Therefore, the city was destroyed. Even those people who did not participate in that type of sexual promiscuity suffered because they allowed this to occur. They gave it a kind of tacit approval. They were in agreement, even if they didn't do it themselves. It doesn't make a difference. G-D decided that they're all part of the guilt of that sin and, therefore, G-D brought a mabul. He destroyed New Orleans for that sin. It's amazing, when you think about that!

This explains why is it, for instance, that, all of a sudden, there's a hurricane that destroys or does tremendous damage to property and people’s lives. They could say: well, I didn't do anything but, whatever G-D does is always in accordance with His justice. Like it says in “Ha’azinu,” “ tzadik v’yashar hu,” that G-D is absolutely righteous and fair. “Ein avel”--there's no injustice by G-D. Everybody who suffered as a result of some weather extreme deserves it, except we don't understand why because we don't know what the person does. He could have done something ten years ago and G-D waited for him to repent or it could have been done in a previous incarnation. Whatever it is, it all collects and the amazing thing is that, whoever deserves it, will be punished. That's what happened with ‘Katrina.’ That's what happens with any weather extreme. Of course, we cannot even begin to fathom how G-D can measure that level of culpability.

What happened to Florida is astounding. It was one of the greatest hurricanes to ever hit Florida. I hear that the damage is the greatest damage ever done by a hurricane in the United States. I think somebody told me that even 'Andrew,' which hit the Bahamas, Florida, and Louisiana in 1992 caused 47 billion dollars-worth of damage. I heard that 'Ian' caused damage worth 66 billion dollar’s-worth. It's a staggering amount of money!

The question is, again: why? What was the collective sin of Florida? We're not talking about one person; we're talking about the whole state! Actually, we're talking about the whole of America because America is going to have to fork over a tremendous amount of money from FEMA, which is all tax money, and that will clearly affect the economy, right? That's very damaging.

Somebody pointed out to me, after having done some research that, in the month of October and into November, these many cities and towns that the hurricane went over were going to have gay pride parades—astounding! Hurricane Ian did exactly what 'Katrina' did. It wiped out those possibilities, and the destruction is incredible. It punished Florida because of the LGBTQ. Therefore, even people who are not themselves LGBTQ advocates, have to suffer because they tolerate this enormous hashchasa—corruption. They're all held in collective guilt.

Hurricane Ian is really a repeat of 'Katrina' because the atmosphere that is created in Florida allows cities and towns to openly embrace “Pride,” to have “Pride” and to, actually, advertise: we are a city, a town, that welcomes gays and all LGBTQ people. These towns advertise their ongoing schedule of gay-pride events whether parades, get-togethers, or other city-sponsored expressions of support. Since this is widely tolerated or approved of, there’s collective guilt because the judgment of the guilt is exact and that's what G-D decided.

What kind of hashchasa is this? It’s the corruption and the moral decay and decadence that Florida harbors because they allow this to occur. So, G-D does what He did; He wiped out that state. I mean, 66 billion dollars is an awesome sum of money! And that explains why I think the major damaging factor was the water; that's the mabul. So even though G-D will not destroy the world with a mabul—as He said, that He would not flood the planet—He can do it to an individual city or state or region; that's exactly what He did.

That's an understanding of Hurricane Ian and also an understanding of how justice is meted out, how it’s dealt with, according to the middas ha'din—attribute of justice.

Re-emergence of Nuclear Threat

The second thing I want to mention is that the world hasn't been under the threat of a nuclear attack or war for a long time and Putin has threatened the world saying that if it interferes with or threaten “us,” meaning Russia, he’s not against using a tactical nuclear bomb, to use such weapons locally. Yes, he would use it.

Putin is very concerned about his image. Putin made a mistake. He thought that the Russian army was up to capturing or subduing Ukraine. The mistake was that he should not have done that in the first place because what did Ukraine do to deserve this, an attack of one sovereign state against another? But the idea is that Putin realizes that his reputation is at stake. He looks foolish because everybody presumed that the Russian army is invincible, particularly due to its nuclear capability but it comes out that they cannot win against Ukraine which is what—a third world country? Besides, Ukraine is retaking territory that Russia initially controlled. Could you imagine how embarrassing that is to Putin and the image and reputation of Russia?

Therefore, the threat stems from the need for Putin to save face because he's tremendously mindful of his reputation. Therefore, it's very possible, I believe, that he may call for a nuclear strike, or series of strikes, to save face. I believe that he's not disinclined to such a threat. He is threatening the world. A nuclear weapon against Ukraine would bring in the United States, bring in NATO, and could easily escalate into World War III.

One thing is important to know, that the Ribono Shel Olam—Master of the Universe is allowing this. Why?—because, when mankind performs sins in which deem they deserving of chayav misa—death penalty, He then allows the world to be threatened with utter destruction as a warning. In other words, it's not Putin himself, even though he's the one saying this, but the Ribono Shel Olam is telling the world: I'm allowing you to be threatened with destruction by Putin because you're all really chayav misa, all subject to the death penalty. Why?—because, as I’ve mentioned many times, the concept of LGBTQ is the corruption of man threatening the briyah—Creation. That’s why G-D destroyed the world and S’dom.

So that is why we are witnessing that which hasn't happened in a long time. We now wake up and wonder: will today be World War III? That is a warning to the world; such is really what you deserve except I'm not allowing it to happen. This is a warning, just like that to Noach. Noach built that ark for 120 years. Why?—because G-D was sending a warning to the world.

People would ask Noach, “Why are you building this ark?” and Noach would say that it’s because G-D is going to destroy the world in 120 years, or whatever, and, of course, everybody laughed. G-D sends a warning in this way to express that the world can kill itself easily. All Putin has to do is send one nuclear bomb to Ukraine, which he can easily do to save face, and that's World War III. That is a warning to the world that it deserves this type of threat because what they do deserves a death penalty.

These are the two the ideas—nuclear threat and natural disaster—I want to bring because they address current events.

Rosh Ha’Shana

What exactly is Rosh Ha’shana all about? Of course, we think it's about dinim—judgment, but there's something particular to this subject to consider. G-D is an awesome, infinite being. Merely to be in His presence is awesome. If you are in the presence of G-D when

G-D allows Himself to be exposed or revealed, then you will have this incredible fear, awe, and you will tremble just by being in His presence.

In regard to this awesome experience, the Ribono Shel Olam created a concept called “tzimtzum”—contraction, restriction whereby He conceals His presence and, because He conceals His presence—I don't want to go into the entire Divine plan which I’ve spoken about in depth many times before—He has to conceal His presence because the essential idea of G-D is “ein od milvado”, that, besides G-D, nothing else really exists.

So, G-D has to conceal some aspect of His presence thereby allowing the presence of zuloso--an ‘other’. If G-D didn't conceal His presence, there could be no sense of “other,” and nothing would exist and, when I say nothing, I mean absolutely nothing. There could be no solar system, no universe, no angels, no reality other than G-D. So, G-D conceals His presence and that's called “tzimtzum” in order to bring into existence a zuloso, an 'other,' and that's how everything comes to be.

Essential Attribute, Truth

The essential attribute of G-D is a very interesting attribute. There are many characteristics or qualities that we can attribute to G-D; He's infinite, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, for example, without going into all that. But the essential attribute of G-D is called “emes”—truth. As it says at the end of the prayer, “Shmone Esre.” It says, “Ha’Shem elokeichem emes—G-D is truth. What does that mean? That means there is no deception, no concealment. The essential attribute of G-D is emes, that in G-D's presence there is no falsehood, no pretense, and everything is revealed. In other words, reality is completely revealed. That is an essential attribute of G-D.

But we notice something: in order for You to have a Creation, You have to perform tzimtzum, concealment, which hides You. So, G-D entered some type of a middah, which is called not “emes,” because the concealment of G-D is false, because the concealment of G-D due to tzimtum would mean that G-D either doesn't exist or He exists in a severely diminished form but that's not true. So, when you think about it, the concept of tzimtzum is an exact opposite of the eminent characteristic of G-D which is emes. Isn't that interesting? Yet, G-D has to maintain that tzimtzum or Creation would evaporate. But that is the exact opposite of who He really is, which is emes! As it is written, as I just pointed out, the verse says, “Hashem elokeichem emes.” It's interesting that G-D has to exist in an atmosphere of required falsehood because we don't perceive who He really is and, therefore, it is false. G-D, in a certain sense, has to violate His own personality, His own essential characteristic. It's a very interesting idea. So, what does G-D do?

There's a place called “Rockefeller Plaza” in Manhattan, I think it's 50th Street and Fifth Avenue. It's got a lot of stuff, a very public place. I read a long time ago about it and who owns it. Who owns Rockefeller Plaza?—Rockefeller. It is owned by the estate of the Rockefellers. They own it but offer it for public use. It's interesting. Legally, they must demonstrate ownership one period during the year so they close off the entire Rockefeller Plaza from the public though I'm not sure for how long. It could be the one day or maybe two hours of one day, whatever. In order to legally retain ownership of Rockefeller Plaza, they have to demonstrate balus—ownership.

It’s as if G-D were to do likewise, as if to say, I can't always be tzimtzum, maintaining this false illusion of Who I really am. So, I dedicate one day, or even ten, when I’ll reveal Myself and, therefore, to some extent, demonstrate the emes. That's what He does. Therefore, what G-D does is He demonstrates the concept of emes, of Who He really is not unlike the Rockefeller Plaza where they have to demonstrate some truth of who they are.

G-D has chosen ten days to reveal who He is. He removes the tzimtzum, to a certain extent, so that His attribute of emes that which was concealed, is reversed for ten days. When is this ten days that He actually demonstrates Who He really is, when the attribute of emes—although it’s not total emes but a partial demonstration—is extant? It’s the ten days of teshuva. That's what happens on Rosh Ha’shanah.

On Rosh Ha’Shanah, G-D demonstrates some aspect of His being, and that aspect is the malchus—kingdom, kingship. In other words, on Rosh Ha’Shanah, and throughout the entirety of the ten days, there is a revelation of the being of G-D, the awesomeness of G-D Himself. That goes on from Rosh Ha’Shanah through Yom Kippur. That's what He does.

If you read the very famous section of the davening of Rosh Ha’Shanah and Yom Kippur, called “Unetanah Tokef,” it reveals certain very interesting ideas. I'm going to read it in English, not the Hebrew, and I will explain a particular idea.

Here's what it says: "Let us now relate the power of this day's holiness, for it is awesome and frightening” because—remember!—it’s a demonstration of Who G-D really is in terms of His essence. But it's not total or the entirety of his essence because, were it so, the universe would be completely destroyed. But there is a diminishment of tzimtzum. Even so, it's awesome and frightening.

It continues: "On it, Your kingship will be exalted." This means that Your kingship, Your malchus, the fact that You're a melech—king will actually be manifest on that day. This is what happens, that on Rosh Ha’Shana, G-D exposes the fact that He is a melech.

And then it says, "Your throne will be firmed with kindness, and you will sit upon it in truth" which is what I'm saying. "You sit upon it in truth" means the truth of Who You are is actually revealed. And then it speaks of the concept of “kindness” which I will explain.

Then it continues, "It is true that You are alone and are the One Who judges, proves, knows, and bears witness, Who writes and seals, counts, and calculates, Who remembers all that was forgotten. You will open the book of Chronicles. It will read itself and everyone's signature is in it. The great shofar will be sounded and a still thin sound will be heard."

And then it says, "Angels will hasten trembling and terror will seize them, and they will say 'Behold! It is a day of judgment’!"

What do we see? First it discusses who G-D is and then angels tremble and they realize that it's a yom ha’din. Why the trembling?—not because it’s a day of judgment when G-D decides to judge the world. The trembling is a due to G-D revealing who He is, demonstrating the truth, finally, not giving cause for man to live in a delusional state where we don't see Him. Then, automatically, in that Light of His being, His demonstrating His complete malchus, what happens is—din! Once G-D conveys: forget about my tzimtzum or my restriction of My presence! I'm gonna openly reveal Who I am!—and He does. Automatically, when G-D reveals all reality—because that's Who He is—then, automatically, that's din, that's justice! Justice is everything being revealed: what we did, when we did it, how we did it, the repercussions of it, how far in the future its effect will be felt and, therefore, what the verdict should be. Judgment is the conclusion or the effect of the revelation of G-D on Rosh Ha’Shanah until Yom Kippur.

What generates the concept of “judgment,” and the reason the angels say, “Hinei yom ha’din!”—behold the day of judgment? What generates this trembling and declaration? First they describe the revelation of G-D's presence. That's what makes it obvious and generates the concept of it being the “time of justice.” Since the major middah of G-D is emes and, in that truth, automatically, everything is revealed then, lo and behold, that's judgment! Since nothing is concealed, everything becomes obvious and so judgment is the logical corollary of that glaring truth.

During those ten days, G-D undoes the tzimtzum, He reverses it. As a result of such revelation, the malachim tremble automatically because, when you experience the “being” of G-D Himself, you tremble, you're frightened. The “being” of G-D, in and of itself, is awesome, and overwhelming. It's something we cannot even begin to comprehend but the angels feel it, experience that. That's the “Unetanneh Tokef,” what this paragraph reveals to us, that the essential experience of Rosh Ha’Shanah is that of G-D's “being.”

On Rosh Ha’Shana, G-D undoes the tzimtzum, undoes the restriction, reveals His presence and so, automatically, there is judgment. The truth of what He reveals is malchus—kingship, kingdom. What is a king? A king basically owns everything and controls everything. That’s what “sovereign” means. Everything is under His jurisdiction. That's malchus and that's what's revealed on Rosh Ha’Shanah.

Notice, however, that G-D does not reveal the concept of His metzius, His singularity of being, that He's the only One that exists. That revelation does not occur on Rosh Ha’shanah or Yom Kippur. It occurs in Olam Ha’ba—Future World. That revelation is a different type of revelation. The revelation of Rosh Ha’shanah is that He's a melech and the revelation of Olam Ha’ba is that He is the source of all being, of all existence. But, at least, on Rosh Ha’Shanah, a part of the concealment of G-D is undone. That's the important thing to understand, and this continues for ten days, this reversal of the tzimtzum, this reversal of the restriction of G-D's presence.

On Yom Kippur, however, which we're about to enter, the revelation is “higher” because what G-D reveals on Yom Kippur is more than what He reveals on Rosh Ha’Shanah. We have never seen such a revelation as what happens on Yom Kippur because, not only does G-D reveal that He's a melech, a king, but part of that revelation that He's a melech is some type of an attribute that He's more than just the king; in a certain sense, He is the source of being, although not like what we’re to experience in Olam Ha’ba. Because of this, Yom Kippur has a unique property. On Yom Kippur there's the Satan, but the Satan cannot prosecute on Yom Kippur. That's the only time he never prosecutes.

The Satan Rendered Inoperative

If you recall, the Satan has three jobs; he's a tempter called the “yetzer hara”—evil inclination and he's also the prosecuting attorney. He's called the “Satan” in that role, and he's also the malach hamavet—Angel of Death as he executes judgment—not that he always kills—but he executes the judgment.

On Yom Kippur G-D takes away one of his roles; he cannot prosecute. He can be a yetzer ha’ra, You can still sin because he tempts you, and he can kill as the malach hamavet but, on Yom Kippur, he cannot prosecute, which is an incredible concept. It is this that allows us to do teshuva and there cannot be any type of prosecution against the teshuva we do. Normally, the Satan could say: you call this a teshuva? You call this a repentance? Come on! You can't accept that! The Satan cannot lodge a complaint because G-D dismisses him. In fact, the gematria—numerical value of “ha’Satan” is 364, not 365, because, in one day of the year, he does not prosecute. So “ha’Satan” only adds up to 364 days and not 365 days.

We realize that, if there's no satanic ability to prosecute, it’s similar to the yemos ha’mashiach—themessianic era. In the messianic era, the Satan is destroyed so, clearly, there's no prosecution, no temptation, no death, no zohama which is his projection. All of that is gone. Therefore, the emes that G-D will project in the messianic era is beyond comprehension because He doesn't “need” the same tzimtzum that He “needed” during the previous five millennia. There’s no more free-will in the messianic era after Mashiach ben David since there’s no more satanic influence and the truth is out. In the messianic era, He destroys the Satan in whatever way.

One of the jobs of the Satan is to prosecute and G-D takes that away on Yom Kippur. That's a messianic likenes because, on that day, the Satan’s actions pertaining to prosecution are curtailed. How does that happen? On Yom Kippur, something is revealed more than on Rosh Ha’shanah, an emes greater than even that of malchus. His infinite chesed—compassion is a greater truth, that G-D wants to bestow an infinite state of goodness on everybody, particularly all the Jews. That's what is illuminated on Yom Kippur, both malchus and chesed.

Therefore, Yom Kippur, in a certain sense, is messianic because the Satan is denied one of his functions. In the messianic era, he's denied everything and he's destroyed. Rosh Ha’Shana is also, in a certain sense, messianic, because the Satan is denied his ability to prosecute because G-D reveals a level of emes, but the revelation of Yom Kipuur is greater than that of Rosh Ha’Shana because that level of emes which is chesed, that G-D is infinitely kind, means that He will do something in your favor even though you have absolutely no claim, no reason, no merit to deserve anything. That is the middah that will shine in the messianic era. Because you have that type of illumination that shines on Yom Kippur, automatically, the Satan’s treatment resembles what will happen during messianic era, that he will be denied, as now on Yom Kippur, the ability to prosecute.

Yom Kippur has a greater kedusha—holiness than Rosh Ha’Shanah because, besides the truth of who G-D is in terms of His malchus, His kingship, it's also His chesed, the fact that G-D is infinitely kind, an illumination which is very great. That's the sephira of keter, rendering the Satan inoperative as a prosecutor, which is his essential function.

Since this is what happens on Yom Kippur, it behooves all of us to take advantage of this because, since the Satan cannot prosecute, any type of teshuva, of repentance—any type, even if you're not sure: will I do teshuva? will I repent? will I not? I don't know if I can… and so on—all of this is accepted as some type of teshuva.

This is hinted at because Rabbi Yehuda Ha’Nasi, Rabbeinu HaKadosh, says that teshuva on Yom Kippur is automatic. Why? Even if you don't do teshuva, repentance is done. Why? So he said because “itzuma shel yom”—the essence of the day itself is mechaper—atones even if you don't do the act. We don't hold like rebbe; we hold you have to do an act of teshuva which means you have to say vidui—to confess, have to regret, then have to say that you won't do it again. But Rebbe, Rabbeinu HaKadosh, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says that you don't really have to do teshuva. Why?—because Yom Kippur, in and of itself, the essence of the day, is so great that it will atone for your sins automatically. Why? It’s the illumination of Yom Kippur; it’s phenomenal; that's why. G-D reveals the emes, finally. It's almost as if He's tired of the tzimtzum and He wants to display Who He is.

Yom Kippur is awesome and therefore what we should do is take advantage of that. Now we don't hold like rebbe, we hold you have to do an act to repent, but if the illumination of Yom Kippur is pure chesed because G-D has undone the tzimtzum, could you imagine what that means? Your teshuva—any teshuva at whatever level—will be accepted at the level that you're doing it, obviously. So, even if you're not sure: can I repent; can I not repent; will I repent; will it work? I don't know, I'm not, sure, do teshuva at any level, for any sin because, since there's no prosecution of the Satan, it must be accepted at that level.

This is a very important concept and it's very practical for us. Take advantage of the day! We really have to take advantage of Yom Kippur. Look, even if you say to G-D on Yom Kippur “Lsten, I'm so caught up in sinning, I don't know if I can really repent. I think I'm gonna have to repeat the sin over again but, G-D, I want to tell You one thing; I really would rather not be doing this. I don't want go against Your will. So, maybe help me out. Give me the strength to resist sinning because I really feel terrible and I regret the fact that I sin.” That statement itself is an unbelievable expression of repentance and G-D waits for that statement, at least that statement, that of regret.

If you asked, of the three of things required for teshuva—acknowleding the sin, called “confession,” regretting that you did it, taking on that you will not do it again, all three being the components of repentance—which is the greatest? The Chofetz Chaim says that, of those three actions, charata—regret is greatest because, in many ways, we're not in charge of what we can and cannot do, but what we are in charge of is: do we regret what we did, at least? Do we feel bad about what we did? Would we like to repent? Such a statement by a human, by a person, by a Jew, is immeasurably valuable to G-D because that's really what He wants. He knows, therefore, that, if you had the strength, if you had the will to resolve, if you had the assistance, you would do teshuva. Therefore, that statement that you regret sinning against G-D and that, were it possible, you'd love to really repent, is an incredible statement treasured by G-D.

On Yom Kippur, when there's no prosecution, no argument from the Satan of: why are You accepting this man's repentance? He's not saying he won’t do it again. The Satan can't offer such argument because he cannot prosecute. So, I'm encouraging you to, at least, have regret for the sins that you do; that, itself, is immeasurably great.

We now understand what these ten days of teshuva are. They are days that G-D undoes the tzimtzum, undoes the restriction of His presence and He accepts, He “wears,” His real attribute, that of emes, truth, that there is no deception. On Yom Kippur, therefore, automatically the result is yom ha’din at which the angels tremble at the revelation of His presence. On Yom Kippur, it's a greater revelation and, since that revelation is even greater, the illumination itself is filled with chesed, kindness, when G-D will give you something for nothing, even if you do nothing. That's how great the goodness of G-D really is. The reason why you have to work for it is because, as I once gave in shiur of Nahama D'Kisufa—Bread of Shame, you have to earn it. But really, the essence of G-D is not that of Nahama D'Kisufa. The essence is chesed. He just wants man to benefit, to receive an infinite state of goodness and that is what shines on Yom Kippur. In that Light, even the Satan cannot prosecute.

I certainly urge everybody to think about and do teshuva. I’ve mentioned what the main teshuva is, letting G-D know that you're part of His team. On Rosh Ha’Shana and on Yom Kippur, if you can do that, that would be incredible. Just say: I'm with You. I'm concerned about Your presence and I want to bring You back. I want to sanctify the Name of G-D. I'm still part of the team even though I fall and I falter. Please forgive me. I'm still part of Your team. Even if you don’t hold with the rebbe, take advantage of the fact teshuva is easier. Like it says, “Seek G-D where he can be found,” meaning on these ten days when He wants to demonstrate Who He really is.

Anyway, certainly take advantage of the awesome presence of Yom Kippur because, once they blow that shofar after Yom Kippur, then it closes. Then G-D resurrects the tzimtzum and He goes into hiding again until, finally, the tikkun. That tikkun is the messianic era, when He will no longer hide. That's what it means when it says, the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-D. What that means is that He undoes the tzimtzum and He will appear to everybody as on Rosh Hashanah. As it is written, “v’haya Ha’Shem l’melech al kol ha’aretz, b’yom ha’hu yehuya echad u’shemo echad”--G-D will be King of the Earth and, on that day, G-D will be One and His Name will be One. Right? “He and His name will be One” means you call Him a “melech” now, but you'll actually see the malchus then.

In other words, we will experience exactly what the angels experience on Rosh Ha’Shanah, even though it means trembling, because we will be privy to experiencing G-D in His awesome being.

Any questions?

Q & A

Participant: From Rosh Ha’Shana to Yom Kippur you said we have the ten days in between. And we spoke last week how each day is another sephira so we work our way from the malchus up to the keter?

R’Kessin: Right. Yom Kippur is the exposure of keter, which is the greatest emes, the greatest illumination of G-D. Keter is pure chesed.

Participant: So now, obviously, it's all like—not supernatural, but subconscious. We don't really see anything different in the ten days other than trying to put more attention on doing teshuva.

R’Kessin: Yes. We don't experience what the angels experience because they actually experience G-D illuminating Himself and that's why they're so frightened. We don't know what they experience but they experience it because that's the truth of G-D. G-D wants to say “I'm going to restrict tzimtzum,” even if the only ones who feel that are the angels. We, however, have to demonstrate that we believe this and, therefore, we have to think about that, become conscious that G-D acts as a king on Rosh Ha’Shana.

Participant: Is that why, on Yom Kippur, we're compared to angels, because we're not doing anything physical? It's a taste of Olam Ha’ba?

R’Kessini: Yes. Well, I believe it's a taste of the messianic era.

Participant: …where the physical takes a back seat and your spirituality is at the forefront.

R’Kessin: Right. That's why all the Jews are so elevated on Yom Kippur. And it is; that's why it's a yom kadosh—holy day, because there’s the illumination of a sephira that shows that G-D is not only King, but there's a manifestation of His infinite chesed, where the sephira of keter is manifest. We, automatically, connect to that incredible holiness of G-D that He reveals. Yom Kippur is one of the greatest times of revelation we can ever have.

Participant: How do we tap into that revelation on that day, besides having regret and doing teshuva? Is there any other way to tap into that, mentally?

R’Kessin: If you think about it, if you meditate on the ideas of this shiur and you really think about it at length, I believe that you can reach the consciousness of Yom Kippur but you have to think about it. That's one of the reasons why we fast on Yom Kippur, why we avoid the five different forms of pleasure. What we really do is tap into G-D at a level which is beyond the physical so, in order to give us that mindset, G-D demands that we reduce our physical attachments because He really wants us to get into that mindset, that He is illuminating Himself to convey the concepts of chesed and malchus. If we eat, and all this kind of stuff, then we're into the physical. That's our problem; we're always distracted, always enveloped by these physical desires, physical experiences.

Participant: So, the tzimtzum, by which Hashem conceals Himself, besides on Yom Kippur, when the mashiach comes, that (concealment) will be less and less? That veil thins out as the mashiach comes?

Rabbi: Yes, substantially. It's a process that occurs because of the pekida and the zechira. It happens in stages, but that's what happens, that the tzimtzum is undone, becoming less and less and less and, as it gets less and less and less, there's an automatic, enormous amount of kedusha--holiness of the presence of G-D. That's what it means, that the “earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-D.” It’s “knowledge” which is not just “knowing;” it's experiencing G-D Himself. That's essentially what happens. So, in that sense, we become like malachim who can actually experience divinity in the messianic era.

Participant: That's after the resurrection of the dead?

R’Kessin: Yes, right, because the Mashiach ben Yosef is struggling with evil. It's (the time of) ben David when the kedusha is fully manifest. But Mashiach ben Yosef is struggling with evil so that takes time until you get rid of the zohama, the evil of the Satan. That's what happens.

Participant: Why does Ha’Shem choose the attribute of chesed? Why didn't He choose the attribute of tiferet? Isn't tiferet like the medium between g’vura and chesed? Isn't that beauty, the “between” of them both?

R’Kessin: Well, He did. He chose the concept of tiferet. We live in tiferet. That's the merger between chesed and g’vura. But the real chesed, the greatest form of chesed, is not the sephira of chesed. It's keter. That's really the greatest chesed. The sephira of chesed is much less chesed than the sephira of keter which is the greatest of all. And that sephira really relates to the ein sof—infinite, that attribute of G-D that just wants to give what He gives without any reason; that's really what G-D wants to do. He only did the concept of dinim, that you have to actually do something to be deserving due to the concept called “Nahama D'Kisufa”—Bread of Shame. He wants you to earn it so you don't have some type of existential limitation. If it weren't for that, then we would have been in Olam Ha’ba at the start, not have to go through a world that has so much destruction, so much corruption and so on. A great deal of Mashiach ben Yosef’s time is spent battling evil but the paramount middah of G-D is keter and, in Olam Ha’ba that's what you have.

Participant: In Olam Ha’ba we have the revelation of G-D, of keter, in all different degrees, levels. Is that the same on Yom Kippur?

R”Kessin: No. With Yom Kippur, obviously, it's keter, but it's nowhere near what Olam Ha’ba is.

Participant: No, I know, but is it in levels as well? That's my question.

Rabbi: Yes, right. There's a certain base level where the revelation is awesome, obviously, and it goes down eternally, but different people will experience different levels of His presence depending on what they did and that's the concept of din, of justice. There's an accountability; you get what you deserve even though that which could deserve is so awesome. In any case, the main thing is to take advantage of Yom Kippur. It's an awesome day; what can you say? It's an awesome day!

Participant: If we have to do this collective repentance, because we have the tikkun, we should really all be going in because the whole world getting judged.

R’Kessin: Yes, the whole world is judged, sure.

Participant: And what just happened in Florida and all over, really…

R’Kessin: Right. G-D is exacting retribution for what people do, evaluating a judgment only G-D can, as I showed. And the United States is being judged, terribly.

Participant: Where is the Satan on Yom Kippur?

R’Kessin: I don't know where he goes, but he cannot fulfill his function. I don't know if you could say “where's a malach--angel?” We don't know where they are, but the main thing is he cannot prosecute in front of the Heavenly Court. And that, itself, is a partial messianic concept.

Participant: Remember you said that you're not sure if the Satan dies totally in the messianic era or, maybe, he just has another job? Well, maybe it's like a preface, telling us that he doesn't have to die, just his jobs are taken away.

R’Kessin: Maybe. It's really a machloket—argument. Does he die or is he changed? I once gave an entire shiur about the Satan, what his delusion is, if you recall that shiur. So, it's an argument. What happens? Is he destroyed or is he modified to become a good malach? Whatever it is, the key concept is that his job is over, all three jobs and, therefore, his zohama is gone. We are no longer a part of him in any way. That's the key concept. We are only part of G-D.


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