| Parshah |

Together Time

The goal of Yom Kippur isn’t only forgiveness but the connection that follows

“For on this day He shall effect atonement for you to cleanse you. Before the Lord, you shall be cleansed from all your sins.”

(Vayikra 16:30)
Yom Kippur is compared to a mikveh that purifies us. However, according to the halachos of mikveh, one cannot be purified if there’s anything blocking his complete contact with the waters of the mikveh.

If so, how can Yom Kippur be compared to a mikveh if we may be left with some sin that obstructs our complete immersion in the purity of Yom Kippur? (Rav Itamar Schwartz, Bilvavi)

When my son was born slightly premature, I was determined to do my best to help him. A friend of mine who had recently given birth to twins prematurely recommended that I utilize “kangaroo care,” giving the baby skin-to-skin contact with me, to expedite his healthy development.

I approached several nurses, but in the big institution where we were, they weren’t interested in controversial or natural ideas. Baby was safest in his incubator where he could be monitored by a myriad of machines and staff, they told me.

But Mother wouldn’t give in.

Interestingly enough, one becomes pure only after he exits the mikveh. Hypothetically, if one stayed in the waters of the mikveh for the rest of his life, he’d never become purified.

If so, this seems to further complicate our comparison with Yom Kippur. Do we only achieve purity when we finish Yom Kippur? How can that be? On Yom Kippur itself, we’re actively doing teshuvah, and after Yom Kippur, we’re already regressing toward sin.

Yet perhaps the comparison isn’t so confusing. We’re not obligated to remain in a state of purity like the angels a whole year long. In fact, a person may not continue to afflict himself with the five inuyim, the restrictions of Yom Kippur, once the fast has ended. Instead, he should busy himself building the succah. And although he’s no longer keeping the five inuyim, it’s only when he ceases and leaves the holy “waters” of Yom Kippur that he becomes pure. How is this possible?

Finally, I found a nurse who was receptive to my needs. She set me up in a rocker and swaddled both baby and I together with no barriers between us. I sat in silence, gently rocking my precious bundle, ever so conscious of his heart beating directly against mine.

My precious baby was no longer in me, but he was definitely a part of me. Every morning we sat, baby and I, in a cocoon of safety and warmth, rocking, crooning, and sharing our own little universe of love.

To understand, let’s reflect on the purpose of Yom Kippur. It’s not only about forgiveness — that’s only a byproduct of Yom Kippur’s true tafkid. A person may go his whole life without sinning, but that doesn’t mean he’s fulfilled the purpose of his creation.

What, then, is the purpose of a person’s creation? To get closer to Hashem.

Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, represents the ultimate opportunity to get closer to Hashem. This is the true purpose of the five inuyim — to remove the obstacles blocking our closeness to Hashem. It’s only when we focus on reaching dveikus that we’ve accomplished the purpose of Yom Kippur.

Therefore, it’s only once we exit Yom Kippur, that we’re truly pure, truly connected. The rest of the year, we utilize this connection, until the following year when we have the opportunity to reforge our connection, strengthening it and growing even closer to Hashem.

One morning, I came into NICU and was told that Baby was ready to be discharged! I’d been davening for this moment for weeks, always carrying a going-home outfit with me. Now suddenly he was ready! I watched them dress my baby in the little white stretchie, complete with a fuzzy white woolen cap, and I could hardly contain my joy that we’d reached this milestone.

But as I carefully lifted his tiny body, he snuggled against me, ready for the routine we’d established of swaddling and snuggling together. I suddenly felt a searing sense of loss that those days were over. Here he was, dressed for the outdoors, ready for his crib, his carriage, that snuggly cocoon shattered.

But I knew, however beautiful that interlude had been, that it was no longer necessary. He was ready to be separated from me, to develop as a regular newborn, because he’d been so nurtured with the intense love our together-time had provided. And while he’s no longer physically attached to me, he’ll always be a part of me.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 662)

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