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Section: Moadim   Category: Yom Kippur
Show You Haven't Lost It Completely, Enjoy Your Bath
The Tzaddik Rav Binyomin Finkel Shlit"a tells a story about a man in Yerushalyim who would once a year take the keys to the Mikva from the Shamash and when the mikva was empty, around 12 noon, he would quietly take filthy vagabonds to the Mikva to give them a well needed cleaning.  This was no simple task.  Living on the street with no shower or change of clothes for months or years surely left its mark.  These were people you would run away from if you saw then from a distance, since the odor emanating from them was so ferocious.  He would cut their clumpy hair and shave them.  He would throw away their disgusting lice infested clothes.  He would scrub their bodies with all sorts of chemicals until the layers of dirt, sweat, and dead skin would finally give way to a body that hadn't sensed fresh air in ages.

When they came out they were literally new people.  No one would recognize them and would give them and introductory Shalom Aleichem, inquiring about where they came from.  Yes, the same people they ran away from just hours ago.  The person had literally undergone Techiyas HaMeisim!

This, says Rav Binyomin Finkel, is what Yom Kippur is all about.  The stench of a single aveira makes the smelliest street person seem pleasant next to it.  The entire Yeshiva Shel Ma'ala cannot stand the smell of aveira and run as far they can from this Tamei Neshama.  But Hashem in his eternal rachamanus throws us into the Mikva once a year to clean us from this stench and make us clean once again.  Our neshamos are revealed and revived as the layers of sin are cleansed away.  This is a real techiyas hameisim.  Yom Kippur is a great and happy day for us.  Rabbeinu Yonah says in Shaarei Tshuva that we feast on Erev Yom Kippur to celebrate this most joyous occasion.

We had a man like this in our neighborhood.  When you saw the door to your shul open and he walked in, you knew it was your unlucky day. You didn't even need to see the door open.  Even before it opened the air became permeated with his odor.  However this man had to be forced into the Mikva.  He was not interested.  The people forced him in because they simply could stand being near him. 

A smelly person's reaction to being taken for a cleaning can signal, if he is a normal person who through his life's tragic circumstances sunk to the lowest depths of humanity, or if the person is truly not normal.

Similarly our emotions on Yom Kippur can tell us what our Neshama is made out of.  Yom Kippur should be a great and joyous day for us.  We have sunk very low but we understand that we are filthy and treasure the opportunity to be cleaned and walk away fresh and clean like a human being.  As we see the incredible amount of soot that we have sullied ourselves with dripping from us during our cleaning, we should cry wells of tears.  How could we possibly have acted this way to our merciful father instead of reciprocating His eternal kindness.

If we go through Yom Kippur without an ounce of regret, just waiting to get out of the painful cleansing process, it signifies that we have totally lost our minds.  We don't realize how dirty we have become, nor do we realize the great chesed Hashem is doing for us by throwing us into the Mikva.  If we could care less, we will probably become very dirty again as soon as our yearly bath is complete.  If we are grateful to the our merciful Tatte in Himmel for cleaning our downtrodden souls, not only will we try to stay cleaner this year but He will probably look out for us and help us stay that way.  May we all be zocheh this year to true Tshuva and Kaporas Avonos.

Gmar Chasima Tova!  Have a Gut Gebentched Year!

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