Yom Kippur
Shacharis: Leviticus 16: 1- 34
Mincha: Leviticus 18:1-30
Yom Kippur: Unknown Consequences ©
By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the Holy Days is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs Bella Noahson and Mr. Jack Noahson, may they rest in peace.

Story Of The Parking Tickets
My wife, Naomi and I used to live on a corner lot in the lower level of a two-story house. On the east side of the house was a concrete driveway which was accessible from the south side,16th Street. One day it was necessary to unload some large boxes so I temporarily parked our truck alongside the driveway on 16th Street. The engine was running. The tailgate was down. The boxes in the rear of the truck were obvious! The gate to the driveway was open. The rear door to our apartment was open. It seemed clear, given the circumstances, this was a temporary condition of either loading or unloading boxes.

While I was in the process of unloading these boxes the telephone began ringing. I hurried down the steps to answer it. Several minutes later after concluding the phone conversation I returned to continue unloading the boxes. A ticket was neatly tucked in my door handle for illegally parking in front of my own driveway. This was infuriating!! How could this happen?

Several weeks later I protested on what I thought was an unreasonable ticket. The courtroom was filled with citizens protesting their citations. After a lengthy wait the magistrate briefly listened to my story and refuse to overturn the parking citation. I was outraged! I thought, 'What is the matter with this magistrate? Can't she see injustice of this citation?' It made no difference. While angry thoughts flooded my mind she instructed me where to pay the ticket at the cashier's counter. Again there was a lengthy wait at the cashier's counter.

After paying the ticket I was happy to have this incident behind me even though it did not turn out as I thought it should have. After walking several blocks back to my truck guess what was waiting for me neatly tucked inside the driver's side door handle? Yes, it was another parking ticket ... it seems, the parking meter expired during all the waiting in the courtroom. Can you imagine the frustration?

I fed the parking meter with quarters and return to to the cashier's line and repeated the entire process and went home.

This story on the parking tickets illustrates that we cannot determined in advance the consequences. Things don't necessarily turn out the way we think they should! Yet for some reason we think we can influence the consequences that result from our mistakes.

Last year at Yom Kippur I prayed fervently, especially when we came to the part of who will live and who will die because my mother was very ill. In my heart I felt it may be possible to influence G-d. Maybe my mother's life would be extended beyond her eighty-two years. That was not the case. In the eyes of the Great King it was time to end Momma's suffering. Shortly after Yom Kippur Momma passed away, may she rest in peace.

Again, in certain circumstances we feel that we can influence G-d. IS INFLUENCING G-D POSSIBLE? In certain circumstances it is possible! One may influence their outcome between Rosh Ha Shanah and Yom Kippur right up until the gates of repentance close. Last week we read the Haftorah story of Elkanah, his wife Peninah and his wife Channah. We read Channah had no children. It was at the time of Rosh Ha Shanah. Channah and her husband Elkanah went to Shiloh to observe the High Holidays. While there Channah prayed quietly. Her lips were moving but her voice could not be heard. "Eli consider her a drunkard. And Eli said to her, 'How will you act drunkenly? Remove the wine from yourself!'

Channah responded, 'No my lord, I am a woman of an aggrieved spirit, I have drunk neither wine nor aged wine; and I have poured out my soul before Hashem. Do not deem your maid servant to be a wicked woman - for out of much grievance and anger have I spoken until now.'

Eli answered and said, 'Go to peace. The G-d of Israel will grant the request you have made Him.'"

Then another story comes to mind, On Yom Kippur as with other High Holy Days the Kohanim approach the front of the congregation ascending the duchan to pronounce the Bircas Kohanim. It is during this blessing that we pray, if our dreams require healing then "heal them like Hezekiah, King of Judah, from his sickness; like Miriam the prophetess from her tzaraas; like Naaman from his tzaraas, like the waters of the Marah through the hand of Moshe our teacher; and like the waters of Jericho through the hand of Elisha. And just as You, Hashem transformed the curse of the wicked Balaam from a curse to a blessing, so may you transform all of my dreams regarding myself and regarding all of Yisroel for goodness."

So, dear reader, we can see from these examples instances where Jews apparently influenced Hashem in their prayers. In fact during this time between Rosh Ha Shanah and Yom Kippur we try intensely to influence Hashem! And this week when we fast and pray throughout Yom Kippur we should try our very best to influence Hashem! We each need a good verdict!!

However our mental posture of influencing Hashem inspired by the attitudes of repentance at Yom Kippur carries over into our subconscious mental being afterward. It is here, on someday other than Yom Kippur and some time other than Yom Kippur that we face our unreasonable selves. It is on a day where we are not fasting for 26 hours as part of the Jewish Community worldwide. It is at a time when we're not praying from the early hours in the morning until late afternoon or after night fall as part of a unified effort by Jews worldwide. Somehow we have our days and times crossed! For some reason we're treating other days like the Holy Day Yom Kippur. For some reason we're acting as if the the gates of repentance are wide open for us to misuse and control the outcome of consequences resulting from our mistakes.

Holy reader, there are areas we may have influenced and there are areas that we may not have influenced. The influence that we have on Yom Kippur results from observing the mitzvahs surrounding Yom Kippur as commanded by Hashem and recorded in the Torah. "On the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a holy {meaning SEPARATED} convocation for you, and you shall afflict yourselves; you shall not do any work...' Numbers 29:7 From this we learn, our influence is founded upon Torah observance. Our influence is a spiritual influence resulting from the incredible unified effort of Jews who meticulously observe the mitzvahs of Yom Kippur. Ourr influence results from spiritually elevating ourselves through unified fasting and intense prayer on Yom Kippur!!

Now when we attempt to alter the consequences resulting from our misdeeds on other days it is from a hollow foundation. It is not based upon spiritual commands as on the day of Yom Kippur! It is not based upon the gates of repentance being open as on Yom Kippur! It is not based upon 26 hours of fasting, on Yom Kippur! It is not based upon hours and hours of intense prayer as on Yom Kippur! It is not based upon a worldwide unified Jewish effort as on Yom Kippur!

There is a great difference between the single effort of one Jew and the efforts of millions of Jews worldwide! There is a great difference between the the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur and any other day of the year! There is an immeasurable difference in spiritual levels! The point is Yom Kippur is the day to join with other Jews worldwide and attempt to influence G-d for a good verdict!

We may have some degree of influence on our spouse, our children, our relatives, our employees, our fellow workers; on businesses, on government and on the world ... However very few of us have serious influence on consequences. The governor of a state or the president of a country may commute or pardon a criminal and in so doing alter certain consequences. A governor or a president may instigate a war, G-d forbid, which will have consequences. Yet, in their great positions of power they cannot commute the eternal consequences for our mistakes / sins!! Only Hashem can do this!! So as we approach Yom Kippur it is so very important for us to understand that regardless of our influence in this world only Hashem can commute the consequences... the penalties for sin! No matter how great our influence is, it is not great enough to inscribe our name in the Book of Life! Only Hashem can do this!

As stated in the introduction stories regarding the tickets, my influence is not so great. And as just stated, the influence of a governor or president cannot alter the penalties and consequences for our sins. It is out of their sphere of influence. That being the situation there is no way to express how important it is for every Jew to join together in prayer and fasting on Yom Kippur! Our dedicated prayers are desperately needed this year to alter the consequences of our sin. Our world is on a collision course with devastating destruction! Beyond Yom Kippur little will alter that course ...

I wish you the best of everything this year including physical health, mental health, stability, Torah study with great learning advancements, financial prosperity and may you be inscribed and sealed in the book of Life.!!

Best Wishes!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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