An Eternal Bond
Though these Days of Awe, as they are often called, are solemn, they
are not sad. In fact, Yom Kippur is, in a subtle way, one of the
happiest days of the year.
For on Yom Kippur we receive what is perhaps G-d's most sublime gift:
His forgiveness. When one person forgives another, it is because of
a deep sense of friendship and love that overrides the effect of
whatever wrong was done. Similarly, G-d's forgiveness is an
expression of His eternal, unconditional love.
Though we may have transgressed His will, our essence - our soul
remains G-dly, and pure. Yom Kippur is the one day each year when
G-d reveals most clearly that our essence and His essence are one.
Moreover, on the level of the soul, the Jewish people are all truly
equal and indivisible.
The more fully we demonstrate our essential unity by acting with love
and friendship amongst ourselves, the more fully G-d's love will be
revealed to us.
Jonah Swallowed By The Fish
The Haftorah that is read on the afternoon of Yom Kippur tells the
story of how G-d commanded the prophet Jonah to go to the city of
Ninveh and warn the people there to repent, lest G-d destroy their
Jonah did not want to fulfill this mission and ran away on a ship.
G-d caused a terrible storm to occur and eventually the sailors threw
Jonah off the ship - as the only way to make the storm abate.
G-d caused a great fish to swallow up Jonah. Eventually Jonah was
saved from the fish and went to do G-d's bidding in Ninveh.
Why was this story chosen to be read on the holiest day of the year?
And why did Jonah "run away" from G-d rather than carry out his
mission? To teach us how much our love of our fellow Jew needs
Jonah knew that if he went to Ninveh the people there would repent.
He also knew that the Jewish people had not repented in spite of all
the chastising the prophets had given them.
Rather than make the Jewish people appear bad in G-d's eyes, Jonah
chose to "run away." This lesson is so important that we read it
every year on Yom Kippur.