"THERE'S A GOD IN THE MIKVAH"
Rabbi Akiva said, "Lucky you, Israel! See before whom you get to purify yourselves? Your father in Heaven! As it is written, 'And I threw pure water on you and you were purified.' (Ezekiel 36:25) And it is written, 'The Mikvah (ritual bath) for Israel is God.' (Jeremiah 17:13) Just as a Mikvah purifies those who need it, so does the Holy One purify Israel."
Your Mishna Navigator
1. How does the second verse enhance our understanding of the "purification process?"
2. What does it mean that God is a "Mikvah?"
3. According to Rabbi Akiva what kind of a day is Yom Kippur? A happy day, or a sad one?
It is customary to have a festive meal before the fast begins. We are told that eating in this celebratory manner is tantamount to having fasted two days instead of one. Why is this?
In the verses that refer to Yom Kippur in Leviticus, we are told that Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th of Tishrei and then a few verses later we are told that it begins on the 9th of Tishrei. The Talmud says anyone who eats and celebrates on the ninth, the verse sees that as if they had fasted on the 9th and the 10th of Tishrei.
This is a good deal, but it doesn't make any sense. It would be more sensible to say one should either fast two days, or be able to choose which day of the two one should fast.
The Sefat Emet (a 19th century Hasidic Master) said the following, "Yom Kippur is a day when we literally enter the world to come. We immerse ourselves in the Holy One as Rabbi Akiva says, but our physical limitations keep us from having the total experience of 'another world.' We become weak when we are without food or drink. On the afternoon before Yom Kippur we celebrate as though it was any other Yom Tov and the two experiences together will bring us to that other-worldly experience."
Yom Kippur is not only a day of catharsis, it is also a day of the spirit. It is the day we reach beyond the moment and immerse ourselves totally in the "mikvah" that is God.
What a trip. . .
So, eat well, fast easy, and immerse yourselves.