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Yom Kippur

Thursday, 13th September 2018

Yom Kippur seems to have two contradictory natures to it. On the one hand there are five afflictions prescribed on Yom Kippur, but on the other hand the gemarra (Talmud) calls it one of the two happiest days in the year, and some learn that there is a mitzvah (commandment) of simchas ha’chag (festive joy) even on Yom Kippur. How can one balance simcha (joy) and affliction? 

The idea seems to be that both the simcha and the affliction stem from the same point here. As the gemarra says, the simcha of Yom Kippur is due to the fact that it is the day when we cleanse ourselves of sin, as well as the fact that this is the day we received the second set of luchos (tablets). Likewise, the five afflictions are aimed at removing ourselves from the contaminating distractions of the physical world (distractions which take us away from our real selves) and allow us to focus on the spiritual nature of the day - thus facilitating our Teshuva (repentance). So, the simcha and the affliction are not contradictory at all - on the contrary, they stem from the same point; atonement and purity.

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