Yom Kippur

It is written (Eichah 5:21): “Return us to You, O Hashem, and we shall return. Renew our days as of old (k’kedem).” This verse plays a prominent role in the Selichos prayers of the days of repentence and Yom Kippur.
In his commentary on this verse, the Maggid makes a point of noting that it written k’kedem rather than k’mi-kedem. The Maggid says that if it had been written k’mi-kedem, we would be asking Hashem to restore our days to their original state. We would be speaking of days that we have damaged, but only to a modest degree, so that they can still be repaired. But instead it is written k’kedem. This, the Maggid says, means that we are asking Hashem to give us a new allotment of days like what we had at the beginning, so that we can begin again from the start. A mere repair is not possible, for the damage is too great. We approach Hashem with a broken heart, and tell Him that we know we have made a total wreck of our days. In this vein, we begin the confession with the word ashamnu. The Chayei Odom notes that the word ashamnu is related to the word shemamah, meaning desolation. He explains that we are admitting to Hashem that our souls deserve to be made desolate for what we have done. But it is also possible to interpret the declaration of ashamnu as an admission that we have devastated our own souls. We realize we have ruined ourselves by following an erroneous path. We thus plead with Hashem to renew our days as of old – to give us a second chance, and let us begin again anew.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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