My most treasured Yom Kippur moment is at the very end of the day, during the Neilah prayer. Neilah means “closing,” and is a reference to the shutting of the heavenly gates at the conclusion of the holy day. According to chassidic teachings, the gates lock us in, as opposed to out, as we stand alone with G‑d. More often than not, I cry during those prayers, as I find them to be very moving.
And I think of the Yom Kippurs I spent in my youth in 770, the synagogue where the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, prayed. Despite the crush of people, we were able to pray with devotion and awareness. That awareness reached a crescendo when we cried out the Shema together: Hear O Israel, the L‑rd our G‑d, the L‑rd is One.
The unity, awe and joy which permeated the air were palpable and incredibly special.
And then, after the shofar heralded the end of Yom Kippur, the Rebbe would face the crowd, still wearing his tallit, and start the melody known as Napoleon’s March. The crowd would sing and sing with mounting intensity as the Rebbe swung his arms and encouraged the singing, bringing it to unimaginable heights. I can still feel the energy of those moments. I can picture the expressions on the Rebbe’s face, the victory, the elation, the holiness . . .
No matter where I spend subsequent Yom Kippurs, during Neilah I was and still am always transported back to those incredible moments.
And they remain the highlight of my Yom Kippur . . . every single year.
May you be sealed and inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team
P.S.: What is your favorite Yom Kippur moment? Please share in the comments section.