Mitzvah/Concept 94 Yom Kippur Part Two
The Five Parts of the Soul
There are five self-inflicted afflictions on Yom Kippur; 1) we do not eat or drink, 2) we do not wash, 3) we do not anoint
ourselves with oils or creams, 4) we do not have marital relations and 5) we do not wear leather shoes. These five correspond to the five levels of the higher soul (from highest to lowest); 1) Yechida, 2) Chaya, 3) Neshama, 4) Ruach and 5) Nefesh.1 The verses of the portion in the Torah about Yom Kippur mention the word “soul” five times corresponding to the five levels of the higher soul. The Cohen Gadol immerses five times in the Mikvah, which also correspond to the five parts of the higher soul.2
If we succeed in breaking down the barriers of our bodies we can actually perfect all levels of our higher souls.
Approaching the King
The Abudirham explains that the phrase, “And so…” that we recite to introduce the three paragraphs that are inserted in the third blessing of the Amidah, is based on Esther’s saying. “And so I will come before the king.”3 Esther knew that she was loved by the king more than all the other woman of the kingdom, and that he would summon her in the near future. However, she was unwilling to wait for him; she wanted to go immediately after her preparations. But as opposed to the first time that she went into the king after a year’s preparation with perfumes and beauty tips, this time she would go into the king after three days of fasting, when she would not be at her best. She was willing to risk everything to approach the king. She was desperate to save her people and to take advantage of the opportunity that God had given her. So too, we, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are desperate to save ourselves and to take advantage of the day, and we are not willing to wait for God to summon us. We will risk everything and go directly to Him although we are certainly less than well-prepared. We will go to God while we are physically weak, at less than our physical best, in order to show Him how desperate we are to be close with Him.
1 Ramchal, The Way of God 3:1:4
2 Ba’al Haturim Leviticus 23:27
3 Esther 4:16