Written by: Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman
The following is a Midrash – a Rabbinic Legend:
On the 6th day of creation, when God was ready to create human beings, God decided to give
human beings a special gift. Each one of them would receive nitzotzot — holy sparks of God’s
When the angels heard about this they became very jealous and angry. They didn’t want the
human beings to have a special gift that they themselves did not have.
On the tenth day of this month of Tishrei, Moses, through his wisdom, passion and charisma achieved forgiveness for the Israelites for the sin of the Golden Calf. This marked the very first Yom Kippur. And as we read in today’s Torah portion, God then ritualizes this moment as an everlasting annual rite of cleansing and atonement for the Jewish people. The Torah instructs the first High Priest- Aaron in a specific ritual to effect atonement for himself, his family and then all the people. These specific rituals of purification were caried out for hundreds of years on Yom Kippur up until the destruction of the Temple in 70CE.