Mitzvah/Concept 92 Yom Kippur Part Four
Shabbat Shabbaton;The World of Souls
Much of the functioning of this world is a direct reflection of how things function in the heavens; “The Kingdom of this world is a reflection of the kingdom in the heavens.”1 The service of the Cohen Gadol on Yom Kippur is acting out the service of the angels in the highest heavens. The Cohen Gadol is actually functioning as an angel; For the lips of the Cohen should safeguard knowledge, and people should seek teaching from his mouth; for he is a Malach2, an agent of God, Master of Legions.”3 An angel is a spiritual being.4 He must “dress” himself in a physical body in order to appear on this world, as did the angels who appeared to Abraham in the guise of men5. An angel can only serve one mission at a time.6 The angel will wear his physical garment only once, for that one mission, then he will discard it. The Cohen Gadol too, may only wear the clothes of Yom Kippur once; they may never be worn again. He is an angel on Yom Kippur, dressed in physical garments in order to fulfill his mission. When he is finished he must discard the garments, never to be worn again.
On Yom Kippur, all of Israel elevates itself to the sin-free level of angels. We recite Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuto le’olam va-ed aloud, as do the angels.7 We do not eat or drink, nor do we have relations because we are like angels who have none of those physical needs8. We stand much of the day just as the angels stand in front of God.9
Human beings are more powerful than angels. They cannot sing their praises of God until we do.10 We mention God’s name after two words; “Shema Yisrael, Hashem,” while they cannot recite God’s name until they have first recited three words; “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh, Hashem…”11 Yet, when we recite the Kedusha, we aspire to sing with them; “We shall sanctify Your Name in this world, just as they sanctify It in heaven above.”12 “We will revere You and sanctify You according to the counsel of the Holy Seraphim…”13 We are happy to be compared to angels on Yom Kippur. Why do we seek to be angels if human beings are more powerful?
We have Free Choice and the angels do not. They have no Free Choice because they stand so close to God, they are so aware of God, that they do not have the possibility of sin. We aspire to reach their closeness to God. We want to achieve a level of awareness of God that parallels theirs. On Yom Kippur we act as angels, we refrain from human work and from eating and drinking, so that we can access the level of awareness that is being granted to us; the level of Shabbat Shabbaton, the highest of levels, the world of souls that stand close to God.14
1 TB Berachot 58a2 The Hebrew word for angel3 Malachi 2:7. The Midrash Tanchuma, Shelach #1 says that this verse teaches us that a Cohen is an angel of God.4 Ramchal, The Way of God 1:5:25 Rashi, Genesis 18:26 ibid7 Devarim Rabbah 2:368 TB Chagigah 16a9 Based on Zechariah 3:410 TB Chullin 91a11 ibid12 Shacharit Kedusha (Ashkenaz)13 Musaf Kedusha (Ashkenaz)14 Akeidat Isaac Gate 63 Addendum