Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Ten Days of Teshuvah and Eating with Holiness

The Tikunei Zohar states that each of the nine vowels symbolizes a different sefirah, a different mode of Divine expression, but the sefirah of malchus is likened to a letter without a vowel. This is the unarticulated yearning to draw close to Hashem. These “vowel-less letters” of our innermost desires are inscribed on Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the year. During the remaining nine days of repentance, we focus on the greatness of our Creator and His love for us, and this helps us to breathe life into those letters and articulate our desire to return to Hashem. Yom HaKippurim represents the sefirah of Kesser, the “crown,” and embodies the inner nature of the vowel komatz—the awareness of how precious is it to be close to Hashem, and the deep pain of the sins that distance us from Him. On that day, we are inspired to verbally express all of our longing for repentance, and this brings about the forgiveness of all sin.
Since physical and spiritual pleasures are opposites, we arouse the inner state of spiritual longing by refraining from the five main categories of physical pleasure. The five inuyim parallel the five areas that serve as the channels for speech—the tongue, the lips, the teeth, the palate, and the throat. What is clear is that all year long, these five zones are either devoted to the service of Hashem, or are drafted for the purpose of physical gratification.
Rav Chayim Cohen zt”l once asked the Chazon Ish zt”l, “How can I overcome my ta’avas achilah so that I will not even feel the physical taste of the food that I eat?”
The Chazon Ish answered, “I cannot offer you any advice about how to achieve this. However, I can tell you one thing. You are only preoccupied with something until you have an even greater thing to marvel over. As soon as the stronger emotional stimulus enters your being, the lesser one ceases. When a person feels genuine delight in Torah, he cannot really notice his food.”
The Chazon Ish concluded, “I don’t believe that the K’tzos HaChoshen zt”l even tasted his little piece of kugel!”

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