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This is one of the reasons I am always looking for new opportunities to speak in communities and spread the teachings of the Torah, in particular the ideas of the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of Chassidus) and his disciples. I find that many who would label themselves as modern-Orthodox and have had minimal exposure to this world of Jewish thought, find it so enriching upon learning more.

Can you give us a brief idea for Yom Kippur?

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Towards the end of Yom Kippur we read the story of Yonah. The Chofetz Chaim in his great halachic work, Mishnah Berurah, cites two explanations. One, that the story of Yonah is simply the story of a Navi (prophet) called to awaken people to repentance. In addition, the story shows how “one cannot escape from G-d,” as Yonah is pursued and punished by Hashem for sinning and attempting to flee.

However, I once saw an explanation from a great Torah teacher that it was not just a question of being punished for his misdeed; rather the story serves as a reminder that we cannot escape our mission as Jews. The story is meant to impress upon us that there is a higher purpose to our lives, a reason why G-d created us, and a destiny from which we cannot escape. Hopefully on Yom Kippur, we can come to terms with that reality of our existence and embrace it fully.

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Karen Greenberg lives in Queens, NY. She attended the Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central) and spent her year in Israel studying at Midreshet Harova. She is now a junior at Queens College with a major in English and a double minor in business and secondary education. This article was originally posted at www.cross-currents.com.