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Can You Peel Away the Layers?

Can You Peel Away the Layers?

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Stand in front of a full length mirror and take a good look at yourself. You may notice the style or color of your clothes, the five pounds you recently gained or lost, that you’re having a particularly good or bad hair day, or the wrinkles that are slowly forming around your eyes.

But none of that of course is the real you.

We all have layers that cover up the “real me.” There’s the image that we want to present to the world, the talents and traits we want others to recognize. And then there’s even the image that we want to project to ourselves, those layers that hide and distract from our core inner selves.

But there is one day of the year that can peel through these layers to discover our core essence. That day is Yom Kippur.

The Hebrew word for HaSatan, the Satan, has a numerical equivalent of 364. In Jewish theology, Satan isn’t some imaginary devious devil, but refers rather to the many forces and voices that distract us, tempt us and alienate us from listening to our inner selves. The Satan has power over us for 364 days of the year. But on the 365th day, on the holy day of Yom Kippur, we can reach a level of self-awareness and oneness. On this day, outer temptations, diversions, dichotomies, fragmentations, enticements--and whatever blocks our inner voice from being heard--do not have such a hold. These layers are stripped away as we finally come face to face with the potent power of our soul.

It may surface only for a moment, but in that moment, we regain our perspective and remember who we are.

As the day progresses, we approach the last prayer of the day, the Neilah, right at the close of Yom Kippur. As our stomachs grumble from being ignored all day--just as we’ve ignored all those other layers of distractions--we reach a crescendo of awareness.

Neilah means closing. On a simple level it is the time of day when Yom Kippur is about to end and the gates of heavens are about to “close”. But Chassidic teachings explain that at this moment of holiness, we are “closed in”, together with our Creator. G‑d is not closing the doors on us, but rather enclosing us in His arms and closing out the layers of distraction that we need to deal with in our day to day living. We are given the suffusion of energy to go back to that reality while seeing ourselves just a drop clearer--as a reflection of G‑d.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Mrs. Chana Weisberg via chabadone.org September 21, 2015

to Gay The fast begins several minutes before sunset on Tuesday. We do not eat or drink anything, even water until Wednesday after nightfall for a total of about 26 hours.
You can read more about Yom Kippur (as well as a link to the holiday times) here: www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/4687/jewish/Yom-Kippur.htm Reply

Gay Brock September 19, 2015

Do we start fasting when we wake, or the night before? Can we drink anything other than water? Reply

Mrs. Chana Weisberg via chabadone.org September 18, 2015

Thank you all for your thoughts and comments.

Gay, Yom Kippur begins this Tuesday (Sept 22) at sunset until Wednesday night.

Wishing you all a sweet year, meaningful prayers and an easy fast! Reply

Gay Brock September 17, 2015

Please tell me what is the actual date of yom Kippur Reply

Leah September 17, 2015

Nice. I like that idea, Chana, that the doors are not closing in front of us but rather we are enwrapped in a closeness with G-d and all negativity closed out - a great thought and a long overdue concept since the concept of "the gates of Heaven are closing" has been taught for so long without this view. Reply

Anonymous Tenerife September 17, 2015

We have 364 days of the year when we are tempted, but we have knowledge of who we are on Yom Kippur is when we approach our Creator, who helps us to continue bringing the power and awaken our consciences to be filled with light. Reply

Paulette Fritz Schiffman Las Vegas N.V. 89134 September 16, 2015

Thank you very much for this very important beautiful concept. Reply

Julia Lawhon Greeley September 16, 2015

yom Kippur Very interesting and very well told. I beleive in that and wish so many would actually embrace in the meaning of Yom Kippur! Reply