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Study and Theory/
Yom Kippur

Rabbi Yisroel Beckmaister


Book of Wonders of Gedolei Israel

Once, on Yom Kippur eve, the tsaddik, Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk, reminded his students, “Do you want to know how to mark Yom Kippur eve? Go to the tailor at the edge of town.”


They went to him and stood outside his window. They saw him and his sons praying simply like all tailors. After the prayer, they put on their Shabbat clothes, lit the candles, and set a full table with delicacies, and set around it with great joy. From the cabinet, the tailor pulled a book stating all the sins committed during the year from the previous Yom Kippur and until this Yom Kippur, and said, “Lord of the Universe, today is the time to settle accounts between us for all the sins we have committed , now is the time for atonement for all Israel.”


He immediately began counting and calculating the sins committed during the year, all of which were recorded in this ledger. After completing the accounts, he pulled out a larger and heavier book from the first one, and said, “Lord of the Universe, first I counted the sins I have committed, and now I will count the sins You have committed.”


He immediately calculated all the regret and agonies, troubles and anguish, terrible illnesses, and financial losses he and his household suffered from throughout the year. When he completed the accounting, he said, “Lord of the Universe, if we truly calculate honestly, You owe me more than I owe You, but I do not wish to quibble with You over a precise accounting, because today is Yom Kippur eve and everyone should make peace with his friend. We therefore forgive You for all the sins You have committed against us, and You shall also forgive us for all the sins we have sinned against You.”


He poured a glass of burnt wine and said the Shehakol blessing, and aloud said, “Le’Haim, Lord of the Universe. We hereby forgive each other for all our sins against each other and all the transgressions, both ours and Yours, are null and void, as if they never were.”


They then ate and drank with great joy.


The students returned to their rabbi and told him what they had seen and heard. They said that the tailor’s words were harsh and greatly insolent to the Lord. The rabbi told them, “Know that the Holy One himself with all the congregation on high come to hear the words of the tailor, which are said with great simplicity, and his words give joy and goodwill to all worlds.”

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