Rav Berg, Spiritual Leader of the Kabbalah Centre, explains that Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, has been so widely misunderstood that many now neglect what was once the most important and sacred day of the entire year. Like all of the other days of connection throughout the year, Yom Kippur is a cosmic event that has occurred every year since creation and influences every human soul. It is certainly not exclusive to any religion or tradition. So what is the purpose and what really happens on this powerful day?
First, imagine that once a year there is a special metaphysical laundry service that can get all of our dirty spiritual clothes cleaner than we ever thought possible. This is what Yom Kippur represents in regards to the negative layers of cause and effect that follow our soul, waiting to cause chaos in our daily lives. We would perhaps want to take advantage of such a cleaning service and therefore try and find as many of our dirty clothes as possible, right? Well, this is why the process of finding and collecting the clothes starts during the month of Virgo, which precedes Rosh Hashanah and continues for the first 10 days of the month of Libra until we reach Yom Kippur.
To explain how this spiritual process occurs within our soul we will use an analogy. Imagine there is a particular town where dirt is not tolerated at all. It is, in fact, a criminal offense for the men to own even a single dirty piece of clothing, and they get heavily fined by the police for every item they are caught with! Now imagine (it may be hard) that every man (representing the male aspect of our soul) in this town is joined to his sister as Siamese twins. This represents the male and female aspects of our soul, which are usually joined together like Siamese twins. There are two days per year in this town (Rosh Hashanah) where the police are allowed to go door to door and fine all the men based on how many dirty items they own. Unfortunately, the yearly laundry service is only 10 days later so they are facing almost a year’s collection of unclean clothes – especially if their washing machine has broken down!
Now, because of their knowledge of these imminent house calls, every man (together with his twin sister) in the town spends one month looking through the house to find any dirty clothes before the police arrive. Is this for the sake of throwing them away or burning them without trace? No – there is a much more beautiful process that happens that allows them to keep their dirty clothes, not get fined and make it to Yom Kippur in time for the magical laundry service we described earlier.
Once each person searches throughout their house and finds a dirty piece of men’s clothing, he puts it on himself, and his sister puts on every dirty piece of women’s clothing. By the end of the month, the male is wearing all of his clothes and the female all of hers. The night before the day of Rosh Hashanah, which is when the police will come knocking, a doctor arrives and performs a surgery for everyone in the town. The man is anesthetized and surgically separated from his sister. He gives her all of his dirty clothes and finally runs off to another country where he can’t be prosecuted. So when the police arrive the next day, they may see his dirty clothing that his sister is wearing, but because he has left the country, they can’t arrest him. This is what happens on Rosh Hashanah, and is how our soul escapes judgment – no one home means no one to arrest and the police move on to the next house!
Rav Isaac Luria, also known as The Ari, explains how this spiritual surgery occurs and prepares the female aspect of our soul for Yom Kippur, where all our negativity gets cleansed in Binah. The male aspect of our soul is put to sleep, ‘dormita’, he is cut away from his sister, ‘nesirah’, and then he is able to pass to her all of his negativity, step by step, throughout the first 10 days of the month of Libra. Eventually she is elevated to the level of Binah, which Rav Berg explains is like being immersed in a spiritual body of water (mikveh) where everything gets cleansed.
The fact that the female has to be the one that takes on both the man’s dirty clothing as well as hers is not because the universe is sexist! It just so happens that only female energy is strong enough to actually handle this process. This is why the male needs the anaesthetic and not the female who has a higher pain threshold, and also why she is the one that will take all of this judgment and transform it into mercy on Yom Kippur.
Rav Berg writes in the book Days of Power:
“On Yom Kippur, Binah and Malchut join forces; the Upper and Lower Kingdoms unite into a single harmonious entity. And when you connect to such a wonderful and harmonious entity – to such a remote consciousness – the entire world is in your hand.”
This is how our soul arrives at Yom Kippur with a full laundry basket, ready for the ultimate clean. And remember, because of the escape that our souls made on Rosh Hashanah, we avoided any fines from the police, which if you hadn’t guessed it yet, represent the adversary, the Opponent who comes to try and persecute us on that day. So by Yom Kippur, we can go forward into our year both with clean clothes and free from jail or fines.
All we need to do is keep looking for the things we need to change and bring them with us to Yom Kippur, which is ‘The Laundry Service from Heaven’ – wash and fold service for the soul.