We have learned that everything of a physical nature has two aspects: The 1% illusionary reality and the 99% that is the true reality. The Zohar explains blessings provide a connection to Binah, the Upper Mother, and that the way the blessings for food are structured using the Hebrew Alphabet, we make a connection to the true reality of the food—its metaphysical substance, and not only to its physical substance.
But throughout the year, when we make these blessings before we eat and drink, we are only drawing down the external aspect from the Upper World of Binah. And although it is metaphysical, which incidentally is the only aspect that can nourish the body, it is still only something of a temporary nature because the Vessel is not the Light. So we have to eat again and again and again.
Throughout the year, the body is still the body and the physical nature of food is involved, so as much as we rise above the level of the physical food, nevertheless, its presence in this world is still a reality. It is an illusionary reality, but it still exists. This is what prevents us from achieving a connection with the internal aspect of Binah.
The Zohar says on Yom Kippur, something special happens—the internal aspect of Binah is revealed. The gates are open and anyone can make their connection to this internal aspect, and in fact, the only way we can stop this connection to the internal aspect of Binah is by eating.
Throughout the year, there is a safety valve; the energy that flows through Zeir Anpin is already diluted and not the raw, naked energy of direct Light. And we know that any time we get a diminution, a step-down of energy, we have protection because if we connect directly with this energy, we can become burnt.
But on Yom Kippur, Malchut, we are restored to the position of Creation. Before Adam’s sin, Adam drew energy directly, which is why Adam was destined to live forever. There was no death; although he drew Light directly he was protected so the energy did not burn him out.
Yom Kippur is when Zeir Anpin is no longer the protective covering over this raw, naked energy called Binah. We are exposed directly to this energy because we are restored to the level of the original Adam, where there was no defilement, no step-down of this energy. Any step-down would mean that the year has to be a step-down of reduced energy, and reduced energy means that klipot can set in.
So why do we not eat on Yom Kippur? Is it a religious rite? No, says the Zohar. Eating stimulates the physical body; the physical body’s presence is being felt, which is diametrically opposed to the energy of Binah with its one characteristic of sharing. If we become involved with the body, then we connect to the internal energy-intelligence of the body—the Desire to Receive for Oneself Alone.
Therefore, the Bible advised us not to eat on Yom Kippur so that the body is not stimulated to the extent that it feels it exists. If someone stimulates his or her body through oils, eating, bathing, or engaging in sex, he is, in essence, creating disunity and dissimilarity with the Light. When we restrict on Yom Kippur by not bathing, eating, putting on oils etc., it creates an affinity with the Light available on this day.
Any way you treat it, the internal energy of a food is contained in a Vessel. So as much as we would like—through the blessings—to achieve a direct connection with the internal aspect of Binah, we are still dealing with the physical aspect of food.
Based on this concept, by not eating on Yom Kippur, we do no create pain for the body. We are simply not permitting an interference of any transformation nature, because when we eat, we are relating to something of a physical characteristic. Here, we are trying to avoid anything that would resemble physicality because the raw, naked energy burns up anything of a physical nature. On Yom Kippur, we don’t want any presence of Malchut at all, and therefore we have the five restrictions that prevent us from creating separation or causing a disruption in the contact between ourselves and the energy itself.