Enjoy four short thoughts and a video adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Yom Kippur.

A Message from the Rebbe

Just before Kol Nidrei, the Yeshiva students pack the upstairs synagogue in 770, to receive the Rebbe’s blessing:

The Essence of the Day

Yom Kippur has a special power, for “whether one repents or does not repent, Yom Kippur atones.” To quote Rambam, “The essence of the day atones.”

Atonement is not simply averting punishment, but also purifying the soul - ”’kaparah’ is an expression of ‘scrubbing,’ scrubbing off the dirt of sin.” The “essence of the day” accomplishes two things: cancellation of punishment and the removal of “stains” and “dirt.”

Yom Kippur has the power to purify because then the bond between the essence of the soul and G‑d’s essence is revealed. This bond is not created by human service, but exists naturally: the soul’s essence is literally a part of G‑d, which “Clings and cleaves to you . . . the one people to affirm Your oneness.” Just as this bond is not formed by human service, so, too, it is not weakened or blemished by sin. When the bond between G‑d and the Jewish people becomes revealed, all the “stains” are nullified automatically.
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The last Resort

There are two types of repentance, lower repentance and higher repentance. The first is repentance in the simple sense, regret for sin, and the second is the return of the divine soul; intensified attachment to the Creator.

One of the distinctions between these two types of repentance is that lower repentance must be accompanied by confession, in order to uproot and nullify the sin, unlike higher repentance, in which the sin is nullified of itself, inevitably. Therefore, the repentance of Shabbat Teshuvah and Rosh Hashanah, on which confession is not said, is higher repentance.

On Yom Kippur, however, we do say confession, even though the repentance of the day is also considered to be higher repentance. Sometimes it is difficult to uproot sin through the inevitable effect of higher repentance, and therefore on Yom Kippur, the last day of the Ten Days of Repentance, we uproot the sin by any means possible.
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The Second Tablets

Yom Kippur coincides with the giving of the second set of tablets.

We can explain the connection between the two by noting that the repentance of Yom Kippur surpasses even higher repentance since it follows the lower repentance of the month of Elul and the days of selichot, and also the higher repentance of Rosh Hashanah and the Ten Days of Repentance. Higher repentance, as often explained, is the cleaving of the soul to its Divine source, not repentance for sin, and it corresponds to the verse “The spirit will return to G‑d Who gave it.”

It stems from the essence of the soul, the yechidah, which is “unity to unify You.”

This is the link between Yom Kippur and the Torah (the second tablets), for the Torah joins G‑d and Israel, so that they are “entirely one,” as expressed in the phrase “the one people to affirm Your Oneness.”
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What Now?

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch once went to see his father (Rabbi Shalom Ber of Lubavitch) after Yom Kippur and asked “What now?” His father answered, “Now, especially, we must repent.”

From the great loftiness of Yom Kippur, when every Jew is on an extremely high level, repentance is demanded of us also in connection with such matters that previously were not considered sin at all, and therefore on the day after Yom Kippur “We must especially repent.”
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