In the Parshah of Haazinu, there appears the passuk, "Ki Chelek Hashem Amo, Yaakov Chevel Nachalaso," "For the L-rd's portion is His People, Yaakov is the lot of His inheritance." And in Jewish thought there resonates the parallel idea of the soul of man being "Chelek Eloka MiMaal," "a portion of G-d," so to speak, "from above."
This seems to tie in nicely with two differing understandings of the culminating prayer on Yom Kippur, the "Neilah," "the 'closing,' as it were, of the Gates of Heaven," The question is, "What is it that we are trying to get through those gates?"
The standard answer is that it is our prayers, with which we have tried to entreat G-d's ear, so to speak, continually since the previous night. Now, at the eleventh (really the twenty third) hour, we beseech G-d, "Enkas MeSaldecha, Taal lifnei Kisei Chevodecha!" "May the outcry of those who praise you, ascend to Your Throne of Glory;" "Malei Mishalot am Me'Yachadecha," "Fulfill the requests of the people that declares Your Oneness" - "Shomea Tefilos Baei Adecha," "O You Who Hears the prayers of those who approach You."
A somewhat different approach is that of Lubavitch Chassidus, as abstracted from a "sicha," a meditative talk, by the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, ZT"L, on the subject of Yom HaKippurim. Yom Kippur exerts it effect, its power of Atonement, based on its unique essence, its "itzumo shel Yom." The human being responds by attempting to transform - better, to recapture, his own unique essence, his "atzmus." He attempts, on this Holiest of Days, to become like a "malach," an "angel," to cleave onto the Ribbono shel Olam, the Master of the Universe, to the point where the physical aspects of his being are overridden and he becomes, if only for a few moments, a spiritual being. It is for ourselves that we implore Hashem to "let us through Your Gates", "NaVoa She'arecha."
As the time of sunset approaches, we plead, "Yachbi'enu tzel Yado tachas kanfei HaShechinah," "May He conceal us in the shelter of His Hand, beneath the wings of the Divine Presence."
As year 5759 on the Hebrew calendar begins, let us hope that both interpretations, each of which finds support in the text of Neilah, will be fulfilled for us beginning with this Yom HaKippurim. May our ability to "daven b'kavana," "to pray with appropriate focus and attention," for we are indeed standing before G-d at the time of prayer, be enhanced, and may Hashem help us as well to become better servants before Him, and better brothers and sisters to our fellow human beings.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU[http://184.108.40.206/footer.html]