An interesting thing happens at the end of Yom Kippur. As soon as we finish the last prayer and the shofar is blown, our mood changes. It’s like a weight has been lifted off of our shoulders or the barometric pressure has suddenly gone back to normal.
Throughout the days of introspection and preparation and account-taking before Rosh Hashana, we’d tallied up the mitzvot (commandments) and good deeds, the mistakes and the missed opportunities. And the closer we got to Rosh Hashana, the more we realized that we just might be a little overdrawn on the account.
So, in the ten days from (and including) Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur, we focussed more on straightening out our affairs.
No wonder we approach Yom Kippur with some trepidation.
Still, after Rosh Hashana, we change the way we greet each other. We no longer say, l’shana tova t’kataivu – may you be inscribed for a good year – but l’shana tova t’chataimu – may you be sealed for a good year. It’s as if, after Rosh Hashana, we’ve become more certain, more assured that our fellow Jew has already passed the first stage, so to speak.
Of course, there’s no question you, my good friend, have been inscribed for a good year. It’s just a matter of completing the formalities. The book isn’t sealed until Yom Kippur, so naturally, we have to wait. But you certainly have nothing to worry about. You’ve been written into the book, you’ll certainly do teshuva during these days, increase in charitable acts, etc. And so G-d will seal your name in the book of life come Yom Kippur.
Still, we approach Yom Kippur with trembling and awe, as well we should. It’s all right for a neighbour, a friend, an acquaintance to be so sure about our fate, but they don’t know us from the inside. If they really knew, oy vey!
And yet, the moment Yom Kippur is over, even as we’re breaking the fast, we begin preparing for the Sukkot festival, the next holiday, the next minute. Without a moment’s backward thought, without the shadow of a doubt, as the cliché goes, we rush forward into the mitzvot and activities of the new year.
Whence such assurance? From where such a transformation? Five minutes ago we were trying to get the most out of the last moments of Yom Kippur and now we forgot about those intense, subliminal, awe-inspiring feelings?
Well, yes, because on Yom Kippur we realize just how much we trust G-d. Of course, the Jewish people are “believers, children of believers.” We have faith in G-d at all times and in all places. But on Yom Kippur, and particularly during the last prayer – Neila – on Yom Kippur, we reach a state of total assurance and total trust. We do more than firmly believe that G-d is kind. We trust, that G-d is Kind.
That complete and absolute trust gives us the confidence and courage to immediately live up to expectations, to in turn justify G-d’s trust in and love for us. Moshiach NOW!!!