Vayeilech & Yom Kippur


  1. It’s always from Hashem
  2. Leil Yom Kippur is a plane ride to Shamayim
  3. Yom Kippur, the realm of Olam Ha’Bah
  4. The importance of learning on motzaei Yom Kippur
  5. How one goes back to regular life after Yom Kippur

1 – It’s always from Hashem

אמר ביום ההוא הלא על כי אין אלקי בקרבי מצאוני הרעות האלה (לא:יז)

It seems as though this is a statement of teshuva on the part of Klal Yisrael; that they recognize that their aveiros caused the Shechina to leave them.  However the next pasuk says “v’Anochi haster astir panay ba’yom ha’hu”.  Why would hester panim be the response to teshuva?  The Ramban learns that, yes, the pasuk is a statement of thoughts of teshuva, but it isn’t followed through with proper teshuva on the practical level.  Rav Simcha Bunim mi’Pshischa, though, learns that the statement “ein Elokai b’kirbi” is itself a terrible thing.  The worst thing that can happen is if Yidden think that what is happening to them is not from Hashem, that Hashem doesn’t care about them and has simply cast them aside.  Thinking that what happens is not from Hashem only leads to deeper hester panim in which it becomes even more difficult to see the yad Hashem.  It is critical to be aware that no matter what, everything that happens is always hashgacha.

Yom Kippur

2 – Leil Yom Kippur is a plane ride to Shamayim

“My first month in Yeshiva did not go so great.  I was homesick and overall not very happy.  That Elul, I was the only Kohen in the Yeshiva, so for Rosh Ha’Shana and Yom Kippur, I was assigned a seat near the front so I could have easy access to the place where I would perform Birchas Kohanim.  Well, that seat assignment placed me right next to Rav Twersky, with whom I was still unacquainted.

“Before Kol Nidrei, Rav Twersky turned towards me and asked me a few questions about myself.  You know, “what is your name”, “how are you faring in Yeshiva”, etc.  A general “getting to know you” conversation.

“He explained to me that it is commonly accepted practice that before one takes a long plane ride, you get to know the person sitting next to you. He then said to me, ‘Now we are about to take a plane ride…to Shamayim.’

“Suffice it to say that it was one of my better Yom Kippur davenings.  Yeshiva got better after that too.”

(From a talmid)

3 – Yom Kippur, the realm of Olam Ha’Bah

The Ramah paskens that we do not make a bracha on besamim as part of Havdalah after Yom Kippur.  As the source for this, the Gra points to the statement of Rashi that it is the neshama yeseira, the extra soul that enables a person to eat more and take in all the extra pleasures of Shabbos, and the loss thereof necessitates smelling sweet spices.  The implication of this, seemingly, is that on Yom Kippur there is no neshama yeseira.

However, there is a difficult question on this.  The Ramah says that we do not say Nishmas on Hoshana Rabbah.  As the source for that Halacha, the Biur Ha’Gra points to the Rashbam’s statement regarding when Yomtov falls out immediately following Shabbos; when that happens the reason we do not include making a bracha on besamim as part of Havdalah is because on Yomtov there is also a neshama yeseirah, and thus no need for besamim after Shabbos.

The implication of this Biur Ha’Gra is that only on Shabbos and Yomtov is there a neshama yeseirah, but not on Hoshana Rabbah or any other day of Chol Ha’Moed, and that that is the reason why we don’t say Nishmas then; because Nishmas is only said on days that have a neshama yeseirah.

This apparently comprises a contradiction, because we do of course say Nishmas on Yom Kippur, but if there is no neshama yeseirah on Yom Kippur, then why do we say it?!

The answer lies in a statement in the writings of the Gra which provides another understanding of the function of the neshama yeseirah.  Shabbos is akin to Olam Ha’Bah.  In order to appreciate and experience this elevated status, the person must be raised to greater spiritual heights.  The neshama yeseirah provides that boost, allowing him to enjoy the taste of Olam Ha’Bah in Shabbos.

However, the distinction of Shabbos is only a mei’ein, a likeness of Olam Ha’Bah, and can only be realized with the advantage of the neshama yeseirah.  Yom Kippur, on the other hand, elevates the actual physical body to the point at which we can enter Olam Ha’Bah as physical beings.  Shabbos has a taste of Olam Ha’Bah, but Yom Kippur literally is the realm of Olam Ha’Bah!

It is like being in Olam Ha’Bah for twenty four hours.  This is something that every Jew cannot help but feel!  We don’t eat or drink or engage in the other physical activities, just like in Olam Ha’Bah these things are absent.

During Neilah you have to pinch yourself to make sure that you are still there.  A mere few hours after Yom Kippur is over, if you try to recall where you were then, it feels as if it was a different world…because it was a different world; and already the next day, Yom Kippur feels so far away.

And that is also why we don’t smell besamim after Yom Kippur.  After Shabbos, we smell besamim to help us cope with the loss of our neshama yeseirah, but leaving Yom Kippur is an exit from a state of being a neshama, being in Olam Ha’Bah, and for that, besamim just wouldn’t help!

Some people feel depressed that the day after Yom Kippur they feel like they have no connection to it anymore.  But I say, on the contrary, that’s the biggest indication that you were occupying a totally different realm on Yom Kippur, and now it feels so distant because we’re not in the same world anymore!

(Synthesis of what was heard from the following talmidim: Reb Chaim Rosen, Reb Ephraim Weiss, Reb Reuvein Knoble, Reb Yechiel Leipnik, Reb Yoni Welcher, Reb Avi Klotz, and Reb Yehoshua Goldfinger)

4 – The importance of learning on motzaei Yom Kippur

Having a solid learning seider on motzaei Yom Kippur is very important.  It is the “makeh-b’patish” that ensures that one gets a proper kinyan of the benefits of having just gone through a Yom Kippur.  The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva told bachurim that they should only return home for bein hazmanim the day after Yom Kippur rather than travel immediately after the taanis and lose the opportunity to learn.

(From numerous talmidim)

Reb Avrohom Twersky related that he and his brothers would always return home only the day following Yom Kippur.

I once asked Rebbi a kashya on this, that the Ramah says that one should ideally start building his sukkah on motzaei Yom Kippur, so it would seem that that is what one should be doing?  He answered, “We can uphold that through the vehicle of u’n’shalmah parim sefaseinu…take out Maseches Sukkah and learn some of the sugyos of Sukkah!”

(From the editor)

5 – How one goes back to regular life after Yom Kippur

The Rebbeh would always conclude the shiur that he gave on motzaei Yom Kippur with the following message.  “I know we say this every year, but we say it every year because it is worthwhile to say it every year.

“After describing the process of brining korbanos that a nazir is obliged in upon completing his course of nezirus, the pasuk concludes by saying, “and afterwards shall the nazir drink wine.”  There is a basic, straightforward question on the wording of this pasuk: why does it still refer to him as a nazir at this stage?  He just finished being a nazir and now is when he goes back to normal!”

“The answer is that a nazir goes back to drinking wine the way a nazir goes back to wine.  He doesn’t lose the moment and simply revert back to his old self, as if nothing happened.  It’s not like being on a diet and then binging the next day.  The nazir, because of his experience as a nazir, is a changed man and takes his new self into his return to the routine of life.

“So too, we go back into the new year from a Yom Kippur – we go back to our food and our lives – as a Yom Kippur Jew goes back to his life .”

(From Reb Mickey Dov Lebovic)

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