1. The calendar of a particular year (i.e. on which days particular events fall) has an effect on the entire year, and also continues to exert influence on the following years. So too with erev Yom Kippur: Besides those aspects which are equally present every year, it contains extra aspects dependent on this year’s calendar.

This year, erev Yom Kippur falls out 1) on erev Shabbos, and 2) in parshas V’Zos HaBerachah. This, as we noted above, has an effect on the entire year, and also on the following years.

Erev Yom Kippur, as its name signifies, is a preparation to Yom Kippur. That is, in addition to being special as the ninth of Tishrei (as the Arizal explains, each of the Ten Days of Repentance has a unique function), it also serves as a preparation to Yom Kippur. Moreover, besides being a preparation, it has an effect on Yom Kippur itself, as the Talmud (Yoma 81b) states: “Whoever eats and drinks on the ninth ... it is as if he fasted on the ninth and tenth.” The eating and drinking on erev Yom Kippur has the same effect as fasting on Yom Kippur.

We can go further, and posit that the eating on erev Yom Kippur is loftier than the fasting on Yom Kippur — similar to the distinction of Purim compared to Yom Kippur. On Purim, it is a mitzvah to eat and drink — which has the same spiritual effect as fasting on Yom Kippur. That the effect on Purim is produced through eating and drinking, however, indicates it is loftier than the effect that is produced through afflicting oneself (fasting on Yom Kippur).

This, in general, is the idea of serving G‑d with the body. The Baal Shem Tov, on the verse “You shall surely help him,” taught that one must elevate and refine the body, and “not to break it through afflictions.”

The reason for this is that everything in the world contains a “spark” of G‑dliness. The more base a thing (i.e. the more corporeal), the more lofty the source from whence its “spark” derives — for the higher the source, the lower it falls when it becomes enclothed in this physical world. Thus, the “sparks” in the physical aspect of the world derives from a source higher than those which are in the spiritual aspect of the world. By elevating the lowest levels, one can therefore reach the highest levels (the source).

This is alluded to in the verse “Not on bread alone does man live, but on everything that comes from the mouth of the L‑rd does man live.” Even “man,” even when he is on the level of the “Supernal Man,” needs the “sparks” in the “bread.” It is specifically these sparks (which have fallen to a low state — to being enclothed in “bread”) from which man lives.

All food, including one’s livelihood and needs, is called “bread.” And the entire world — inanimate objects, plant and animal life, and man — is necessary for man, as our Sages have said: (Berachos 6b): “The whole world was created as a satellite for him (man),” and “They were created only to serve me (a Jew).” In other words, the whole world was created to enable a Jew to fulfill, with ease and joy and a good heart, his mission of serving G‑d — to make the world a dwelling place for Him.

This includes those who have a special power — the kings and potentates of the world. They too were created to serve Jews, as stated “Kings will be your foster-fathers and their princes your foster-mothers.”

It thus follows that erev Yom Kippur, when one “eats and drinks,” emphasizes the distinction of elevating the body and the physical world.

2. An extra distinction is conferred by erev Yom Kippur this year being on Friday; and particularly so now, after midday, at Minchah time. It is explained in the Arizal’s writings, and elaborated on by the Alter Rebbe and Tzemach Tzedek, that on Friday (after midday, and particularly) from the time of Minchah, the world’s physicality is elevated — to the extent that the world is totally refined, with no “refuse.” Thus, when this year one “eats and drinks on the ninth,” it is done in a manner of Shabbos.

The above has an effect on the teshuvah (repentance) of erev Yom Kippur. The service of the Ten Days of Repentance, especially that of the ninth day which follows the service of the previous eight days, is teshuvah ilo’oh, the higher form of repentance. The higher form of repentance, writes the Alter Rebbe (Iggeres Hateshuvah, ch. 11), is done with “great joy.” When erev Yom Kippur is erev Shabbos, the teshuvah of erev Yom Kippur is done with greater strength and fervor. And because Shabbos — which as explained above, begins on erev Shabbos — has an effect on the physical world — it follows that the teshuvah ilo’oh of erev Yom Kippur also has an effect on the physical body — which includes one’s environment (“his portion in the world”).

This has a special connection with Torah: Torah is the idea of teshuvah ilo’oh — and, like teshuvah ilo’oh, is also associated with joy, for Torah “makes the heart joyous.” Torah is also the same idea as Shabbos, and it is for this reason that “all agree the Torah was given on Shabbos.”

Just as on Shabbos the world is elevated, so too is it elevated through Torah, particularly when the Torah is learned in the manner of “Torah in his whole occupation.” Then, the verse “strangers will stand and pasture your flocks” will be literally fulfilled in this physical world, even on weekdays. It therefore follows that the preparation for Shabbos, which enables one to observe Shabbos (“he who works on erev Shabbos eats on Shabbos”) adds to everything associated with Torah.

May it be G‑d’s will that there be an arousal of teshuvah ilo’oh, amidst joy and good heart. And because “deed is paramount,” there must be the “deed” of teshuvah ilo’oh, which is the undertaking of good resolutions in regards to everything associated with Torah and mitzvos — including the mitzvah of “all your deeds should be for the sake of heaven” and “in all your ways you shall know Him.”

[The Rebbe Shlita concluded with blessings, including blessings starting with each of the letters of the Aleph-Bais.]