Dear Readers,

If you had to strip away all the outer layers of yourself, what would be left? What remains at the core of your being when you remove social mores, other people’s reflections of you and even your own view of yourself? Take away your talents and attributes, where you work or what you accomplish in your day, who you have relationships with and associate with—and what is left?

Stop and think about that for a minute. Picture the deep-down real you.

It’s the you that is not well-heeled; a you that is not masked by cosmetics; a you that is not dining or well-fed; a you that is even independent of your most important relationships—just YOU.

The Torah describes the holiday of Yom Kippur as achat bashana, a holy event that happens “once a year.” This phrase can also be literally translated as “the one of the year.” The Chassidic masters explain that Yom Kippur is the day that our intrinsic core breaks through the multiple surface layers that separate and define our lives on the year’s other days. It brings out the core of who we really are, without all outer definitions.

And what is at that core?

At the core of our being is a goodness—a goodness that is ever-present. On the deepest level of our being is our soul, which has a quintessential bond with G‑d, the source of all goodness.

This bond is immutable and can never be disconnected, whether we choose to access it or act upon it or not. It is a bond that is independent of our abilities, talents and choices.

So often we forget who we are at our essence. We become distressed by what others think of us or preoccupied with negative perceptions of ourselves. We berate ourselves for all the things we are “not.” But every year, on one day, achas bashana, we can tap into that underlying oneness and remind ourselves of our actual potential.

And perhaps the laws of the day are meant to help us strip ourselves of all outer accoutrements and come in tune with that inner self. Stripped of food and drink, conjugal relationships, leather shoes, cosmetics or creams—not even washing ourselves—we face our true selves. Bare of any outer masks and alone from our most important relationships, we focus inward. We spend our day meditating in prayer so we are able to draw strength from what lies beneath.

Yom Kippur is a day once a year that empowers us to reach deep within ourselves and realize who we really are, and rediscover the depths of our connection—our oneness—with G‑d.

Wishing you an easy fast and an uplifting Yom Kippur!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW