Yom Kippur Is Like Purim

Yom Kippur is the most awe-inspired holiday of the Jewish people. At the same time, it is regarded as a happy day. The saying that “Yom Kippur is like Purim” is not an exaggeration; it is an actual fact. The joy and happiness of Purim is mirrored on Yom Kippur except that we do not eat and drink. How can we understand this?

Freedom of choice allows us to make a decision in an unbiased way as to whether or not we are going to do the will of G‑d. This responsibility to make choices is awesome and can have serious consequences if an undesirable decision is made. For example, we know that the punishment for treason against a particular king is death. For the king to be willing to forgo his honor and grant a pardon is contrary to the way he rules his kingdom. A special feeling and relationship must be developed between the king and the subject in order for this to happen.

Abraham and the Covenant

Abraham, the first Jew, asked G‑d to make a covenant with him and his descendants. This is known as the “Covenant Between the Pieces.” In days gone by, it was customary for two parties to make a covenant in this fashion: animals were slaughtered, divided into halves, and both parties would walk on a path in between these parts in order to seal the pact between them. Walking through “the halves” is symbolic that we, the children of Israel, are part of the whole, G‑d. He and Abraham agreed to proceed with this pact, and therefore, the Jewish people and G‑d become one entity.

Chassidic teachings explain that “an essential being cannot be divided.” This means that because G‑d is omnipresent, it is impossible to say that He is here and not there. Therefore, when you “hold” on to part of Him, it is like holding on to G‑d Himself. The Zohar explains that “G‑d, the Jewish people and the Torah are linked together in one chain.” They are indivisible and united in a very strong bond that cannot be severed on an essential level.

Now we can understand why the King, G‑d, would want to pardon the Jewish people simply because they are one and the same, united with Him, as a single entity. When a human being has a lame right hand, G‑d forbid, the left hand will do everything in its power to compensate. The left hand does not tell the weaker right hand, “You do things for yourself and leave me alone.” The right hand knows and realizes that it is part of the same body. If it does not help the right hand, it, and the whole body, will be affected adversely.

Recognizing the Individual

In order for the body of the Jewish people to function as a whole and unified group, individuals have to realize that each individual, no matter how different, is part of the whole. If a group proclaims, “There are no other talents that we need in our group,” then they discard and ignore a valuable, untapped resource of energy and gifts. When we appreciate the holistic attributes of each individual, unity can be achieved. The result is a productive and healthy society which fosters growth of everyone.

When we stand before G‑d, the One Who Encompasses all of us on Yom Kippur, we ask Him to forgive us from the bottom of our hearts. He responds by pardoning us because He knows that we are part and parcel of Him.