Yom Kippur

The Midrash expounds (Bereishis Rabbah 65:15):
“Behold my brother Eisav is a hairy man, while I am a smooth-skinned man” (Bereishis 27:11). This is comparable to a curly-headed man and a bald-headed man standing on the edge of the granary. When the chaff would alight upon the curly-headed man, it would get stuck in his hair. But when the chaff would alight upon the bald-headed man, he would draw his hand across his head and clear it away. Similarly, the wicked Eisav gets soiled with sins, and he has nothing through which to gain atonement. Yaakov, too, gets soiled with sins throughout the year. But then Yom Kippur comes and provides him with a means to gain atonement.
The Maggid explains this Midrash as reflecting two character types. One type is the person who is driven by wanton passion. Such a person sins willfully and eagerly. With him, the evil gets stuck in well, to the point where no atonement is possible. This type of person is like a curly-headed man, who cannot easily shake out the chaff that gets caught up in his hair. The other character type is a person who heart is essentially pure and whose true desire is to do only good. Although he occasionally falls into the net of sin, he does so only out of compulsion: the great wiles of the evil inclination and the pressures of circumstances overcome him and cause him to sin. But his heart is not in it when he sins – he does not commit evil willfully and with relish. Moreover, when he commits an evil deed, he regrets it immediately. Every Jew – every member of the nation of Yaakov – is of this type in the inner core of his soul. The Midrash therefore compares Yaakov to a bald-headed man – a man upon whom chaff does not get stuck. We can easily shake ourselves off from sin in one day – Yom Kippur – for then we repent with a whole heart.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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