Yizkor Drasha 2014
· We in America are used to calling today’s holiday Yom Kippur, translated as Day of Atonement
· Really the Torah calls it Yom- hakippurim, the Day of Atonements, plural.
· Our tradition explains that the day’s judgment and atonement is two, for the living and the dead.
· As mentioned throughout the service, Yom Hakippurim is all about atonement the soul, which never dies.....
· So a more accurate way to describe this double judgment is that there is one for those living in a spacesuit called the body,
· And one for the souls who have returned their spacesuits to our manufacturer in heaven and exist beyond this world.
· The one advantage we have over our departed loved ones is that we can do Teshuva and take action to change our future.
· That ability is reserved for free willed human beings; with bodies and souls intact.
· So although our relatives can no longer help themselves
· Every mitzvah that we do on their behalf, we were motivated in some part by them,
· It gets added to their eternal scorecards of merit and changes their yearly judgment.
· That is the very secret of why we do Kaddish for the departed.
· It is also the theory behind the Yizkor prayer that we are about to say which remembers our loved ones not by mere words
· But with a vow to give charity on their behalf.
· This concrete action gives them merit.
· I want to tell you a story before we begin the Yizkor prayer. It is a story that took place a long time ago ,
· In a far-away place in a shtetl deep in the countryside of Eastern Europe during WWII.
· For 500 yrs. Jews had lived and died in this town, had built homes and Synagogues and Mikvaot, Talmud Torah’s, Yeshiva’s.
· They were tailors and farmers and milkmen and butchers.....Think Fiddler on the Roof and you probably wouldn’t be very far off.
· Wise Rabbis and Talmud scholars toiled in Torah, and though never very wealthy Jewish Life flourished in this place.
· The year was 1942 and the war was closing in on this shtetl.
· It was the eve of Yom Kippur and everyone was preparing for the upcoming holiday.
· A white curtain was placed on the Holy Ark, and white sheets were placed on the Bima and all of the tables in the Holy Shul.
· As the Sun began to set, and the people started streaming to shul to hear the haunting melody of Kol Nidrei Prayer,
· A German convoy rolled into town and within the matter of a few hours, destroyed every vestige of Jewish Life that had taken hundreds of years to build.
· Everyone was killed and the whole town destroyed.
· When their holy souls ascended to heaven, they shed bitter tears and they cried out to the King of Kings,
· “We were prepared to die as holy martyrs to sanctify your name, each of us still has a little work to do on our souls
· And how could you deprive us of a final Yom Kippur “
· All together we could have purified our souls to help us die whole, complete and without sin?
· To this Hashem responded, your request is worthy. I will let you go back down to your shtetl for one more day so that you can atone for your souls.
· Each person who came back - In the few hours that they had left
· They had total clarity in exactly just what they needed to do in order to repair their souls...
· Some they rushed to give charity, Others ran to spend their last day learning Torah, while others were seen helping the elderly and infirmed.
· Some were lost in prayer, while others were listening to their children and wives.......
· With only a few hrs. Left, no-one slept, no-one ate one more meal, no-one spoke ill of others....no-one let this opportunity slip by......
· We also have a very few hrs. Left before Yom Kippur, when this precious Day of Atonement will slip away.
· Hashem is giving us every opportunity to make our return....he has sent us back down so to speak,
· To take advantage of one more opportunity.....one more time to turn our lives around....forever.
· At this special time of Yizkor, not only is Hashem behind us, but as we recall all our loved ones we literally bring their souls back to stand in unison with our own—
· Forming an intergeneration chain of Jewish past present and future.
· Our Yizkor prayers and the Tzedakah that we pledge will bring merit to our loved ones...lifting them closer to G-d’s throne of Glory.
· And as we remember them, we remember what they stood for, what they dreamed of, and what they lived for.
· And this remembrance helps us remember who we really are, what we are made of ....and what we are meant to be.
· With this clarity of purpose and sense of connection to all that was and all that can be,
· We get to make a choice this day which will alter the course of our destiny.
· Let’s not let the opportunity slip by....you never know if you will ever get the chance again!!