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One Day
by Rabbi Heschel Greenberg

Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, is decribed in the Torah in the parshah of Acharei-K’doshim. There the Torah goes into elaborate detail concerning the offerings that were to be brought to the Holy Temple by the High Priest on this day. In Acharei-K’doshim, Yom Kippur is described as “achat ba’shanah,” a “once a year” observance.

The Hebrew word for “one” that the Torah employs here is achat. According to commentaries, the term achat also refers to the level of the soul called yechidah.

Yechidah is the highest and most powerful of the five levels of the soul—sometimes identified as the soul’s very essenceOn the level of yechidah, the Jew feels an intrinsic attachment to G-d. In addition, at the level of yechidah, one is in touch with the inner delight that is the source of all other faculties. Why do we harbor the desire for something? It arises when our inner delight motivates us to want that particular something. It is the source of all else that transpires in our lives.

On Yom Kippur, we are required to pray five times, as opposed to Shabbos and other Holidays when there are only four required prayers.

Chassidic literature explains that these five prayers correspond to and affect all of the five levels of the soul. When we reach the concluding prayer of N’ilah, the soul’s yechidah is expressed. That experience is so powerful that it can totally transform the person who, for whatever reason, was incapable of being so inspired throughout the rest of the year. And while the level of yechidah is present throughout the day, it is most dominant during the fifth prayer, N’ilah.

We can now understand why the Torah refers to Yom Kippur in Acharei-K’doshim as “achat.” It is intended to teach us that Yom Kippur not just a one-day Holiday but rather is a day when the achat, i.e., the yechidah, is fully revealed.

Yom Kippur poses a unique challenge that does not exist in other Holidays. Because of Yom Kippur’s singular role as G-d’s designated Day of Atonement it captures the yechidah. One would thus be entitled to think that it is impossible to have this Yom Kippur/yechidah experience any other time of the year. To dispel this notion the Torah states, “achat ba’shanah,” one can take the achat/yechidah and instill it into the rest of the year.

How can we take the profound soul experiences of Yom Kippur into an ordinary weekday?

To answer this question we must recall the teaching of Kabbala and Chassidus that there were/are five unique personalities who represent the five soul-modalities. King David represented all the souls on the level of nefesh. Elijah represented ruach, Moses neshamah, Adam chaya while Moshiach will embodies the level of yechidah.

When we connect our lives to Moshiach and focus our attention on what we can do to bring Moshiach and the Final Redemption in our days, we can then experience the level of yechidah. The “mere” desire to be there places us there in consonance with what the Baal Shem Tov taught: “A person is where his will is.” If we truly want to be with Moshiach—and express that desire sincerely by attempting to live our lives in harmony with the ideals of Moshiach—we are there! When we live a Moshiach life we ignite the internal spark of Moshiach within us—our yechidah—and we get a taste of the profound joy of Sukkos that is a portent of the perennial joy we will experience in the Messianic Age.



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