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Tevet 14, 5778

Shabbat vs. Yom Kippur- What's more important?


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Question:
Hi. It came to my attention that we always recite on the Shabbat that its the holiest day and of all days G-D blessed the Shabbat day but what about Yom Kippur then? I thought it is even more blessed than Shabbat and it even overrides the Shabbat and that made me feel that some of the statements that we recite on Shabbat are not exactly accurate. Please clarify that matter for me. Thank you so much and G-D bless you.

Answer:
One of the easiest ways of ascertaining priorities among mitzvot is through checking the punishment allotted for each transgression. Although these death penalties were very (!) rarely implemented even during the times of the Sanhedrin (sometimes not even once in 70 years), and serve mainly as deterrents not intended to be carried-out, they are also declarations of importance. Accordingly, Shabbat (skila) is actually more severe than Yom Kippur (karet), and one of the explanations is that Judaism stresses not only the occasional intensive leap of faith but even more important, is our daily or weekly normal deeds of gradual growth and Godly actions. On the other hand, Yom Kippur is a High Holy Day, which stresses the importance of those special annual intensive leaps, dedicated to acting like angels (no food, no bathing, no intimate pleasures, etc.) and spending almost the entire day in prayer and sincere resolve for improvement. Nevertheless, its just once a year, because we are not really angels but rather humans with challenges, free will, Godliness, and the potential to reveal Godliness even in our weekly actions. Additionally, we cant, and arent meant to live on a constantly high flame. In short, both are necessary, but contrary to popular belief, the positive routine is even more important than the annual leap.


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