Here is a description, from Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, of the similarity between a bridegroom and the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur: “On his wedding day, a bridegroom is like the High Priest going into the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies is like the chuppah and the kohen gadol is drawing himself into an intimate relationship with God, just as a bridegroom is preparing for an intimate relationship with his bride.”
Just as the chassan is similar to a king, on Yom Kippur he is similar to the kohen gadol. During the Yomim Noraim we enter into an intimate relationship with Hashem. He becomes not only our chassanbut our King.
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For the past three years we have davened on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the Beit El Yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael. The place is full of kedushah; the atmosphere is electric. There is much singing, but the climax is at the words “v’chol ma’aminim” – “All believe He is the eternal King, Who gives sovereignty to kings, but retains kingship.” When we reach those words, the beis medrash explodes in ecstatic song. The entire kehillah sways back and forth for perhaps twenty minutes, singing the most beautiful niggun.
Who can be so excited? Only Jews who are crowning Hashem King.
What is this excitement? It is called love.
At the moment the recent massive Siyum HaShas was completed, Rabbi Shlomo Gertzulin shouted “mazal tov” into the microphone and ninety-two thousand Jews exploded in song, swaying and dancing for a quarter of an hour. I watched security officials as they witnessed holy Jews delirious over Torah. They were used to seeing – lehavdil – crowds going crazy over a piece of leather being carried over a white line as well as fights on and off the field as helmeted hulks battle each other. Here you had myriads of Jews, delirious over Hashem and His Torah. No fights. Only Kiddush Hashem.
What is this if not an emotional, passionate, eternal love affair?
There is in fact nothing in the human experience that compares to the love between Am Yisrael and the Ribbono shel Olam. We should keep this in mind as we enter the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. If Hashem were not our basherte, we would not stand a chance. But we are His basherte! Therefore, we not only stand a chance, we are about to have a new chassanah that will rank equally with the Great Day of our betrothal at Har Sinai.
Who will be the wedding guests? Legions of angels.
The world will sing with the sweet music of the Levi’im and inhale the perfect aroma of the ketores, the incense. Tzaddikim will dine under the chuppah, made of the skin of the Leviathan.
“We will revere You and sanctify You according to the counsel of the holy Seraphim, who sanctify Your Name in the Sanctuary, as it is written by Your prophet: ‘And one will call another and say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is Hashem, Master of Legions, the whole world is filled with His glory.’
“From His place may He turn with compassion and be gracious to the people who declare the Oneness of His Name, evening and morning every day, constantly, twice, with love, they proclaim ‘Shema’…and He will let us hear, in His compassion, for a second time in the presence of all the living…‘to be a God to you, I am Hashem, your God’ ” (Shabbos Mussaf Kedushah).
Let us prepare for the renewal of our vows to the Master of the Universe.
This is the greatest love story of all time, and we are in it!
“Please be revealed, and spread upon me, my Beloved, the shelter of Your peace. Illuminate the world with Your glory that we may rejoice and be glad with You. Hasten, show love, for the time has come, and show us grace as in days of old” (Yedid Nefesh).
Roy Neuberger’s latest book, “2020 Vision” (Feldheim), is available in English, Hebrew and Spanish, with French, Russian and Portuguese editions in preparation. Roy is also the author of “From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul” (available in English, Hebrew and Russian) and “Worldstorm.”