in memory of
Kayla Rus bas Bunim Tuvia
One of the themes of Yom Kippur is that we are like angels. We wear white and we say “Baruch Shem” out loud. We stand in davening and refrain from eating and drinking. While it may sound good, one has to wonder whether it is admirable. There is a machlokes as to who are greater, men or angels. According to R’ Saadiah Gaon and the Zohar, mankind is greater by virtue of his free will. According to the rambam and ibn Ezra, angels are greater. According to the view that mankind is greater, why do we emulate angels on Yom Kippur? Furthermore, how are we to understand the idea that we only emulate angels one day a year?
The answer is that both mankind and angels are great, but in their own separate ways. The advantage of mankind is that we have free will and can choose the Torah. Angels have the advantage that they are purely spiritual beings who have a difficult time sinning. On Yom Kippur, we are saying we want to be like angels who are sin free since that is the theme of the day. In truth, both mankind and angels are great and each species has their own strength. It would be wise for us to learn from angels and try to be sin free. However, there is a deeper message as well. Just like we are supposed to learn from angels and admire them for their strengths, so too we should admire each other and learn from each other’s strengths instead of fighting with each other. This message is especially appropriate before yom kippur. May we learn from each other to get along before yom kippur so we could be zocheh to see the redemption in our time.