Yom Kippur: The Light of the Righteous

אור זרוע לצדיק

A light is sown for the Righteous”

Kol Nidrei night has finally. It is now the moment that we have all been waiting for. The Yom HaDin that we have all eagerly counted towards is upon us. The shul is full and the chazzan stands at the bimah flanked by the Rav and another prominent member both holding sifrei torah all dressed in white. By now emotions are running high as every member of Klal Yisroel has finished wishing each other forgiveness and well wishes for the New Year. It is at this point that the Chazzan begins his intro to the Kol Nidrei with the holy words אור זרוע לצדיק – “A light is sown for the Righteous”.

What can we learn from these hailigeh words that will inspire us to truly live a better life, and why is this recited just before the awesome moment of Kol Nidrei?

Rashi and the Radak (Tehillim97) explain that the reward for mitzvos and the personal perfection that is their result is like seeds sown in fertile soil. This is an optimistic message of inspiration that can be focused on as we prepare to climb the “Har HaShem” this coming year.

Perhaps we can offer another explanation that will connect Kol Nidrei with these words:

The Pirkei D’Rabi Elazar shares with us the incredible story of what transpired with Yonah while he was inside of the fish during those three days. It was as if he had walked into a huge shul. The eyes of the fish were like the glass windows, all lit up brilliantly like the sun, with a dazzling stone hanging from its innards providing a special light. Upon the stone, the words אור זרוע לצדיק – “A light is sown for the Righteous” were written. Through that stone he was able to see everything in the Lower and Upper Worlds.

There are a few parallels that we can mention. At this point, Yonah announced that נדרתי אשלמה – What I have vowed, I will fulfill.” For now, our first connection with is that we say Ohr Zarua leading into Kol Nidrei to think of Yonah’s final decision to keep his neder/word.

Although on a basic level this fits well, there have been many other great people that have kept their word. Perhaps there is a deeper lesson.

The Abarbanel tells us that Yonah’s entrance into the stomach of the fish is reminiscent to a baby’s existence in the mother’s womb; Yonah was being reborn at that moment.

The gemara in Mesechta Niddah (30b) teaches that a candle is lit above the head of the fetus which allows the baby to look from one end of the world to the other. We also know from the gemara in Masechta Chagiga (12a) that the original light of the world carried this same feature. However, that light was hidden away for the Tzaddikim. From here we can derive that it was this very light that Yonah in his rebirth was utilizing, hence the possuk, אור זרוע לצדיק – “A light is sown for the Righteous”, referring to this special light that is reserved for the tzaddik.

The gemara in Masechta Niddah (30b) also tells of the very first shavua/oath that each and every one of us take. We are all adjured to swear that we will be a tzaadik and not a rasha.

I would like to suggest that as we enter into the holiest moment of the year, angelic and completely pure; we are reminded of these events. We are told, אור זרוע לצדיק- at our very beginning, we looked into the light that is reserved for the tzaadik, envisioning a glimpse of the possibility of what our future may entail. We then say the Kol Nidrei- at that moment we are reminded that while looking into the candle, we made a promise to strive to greatness, righteousness and holiness. These were the dreams hopes and aspirations of each and every one of us before coming into this world.

כי אדם אין צדיק בארץ אשר יעשה טוב ולא יחטא- For there is no righteous man on earth who does good and sins not (Koheles 7:20).  But of course, life happens. Dreams are dashed and promises are broken. The clouds form and our clarity is gone with the wind.

It is specifically now at the clearest moment of the year, we are told “gaze again at that light”. Let the light of the tzaddikim be a vision of greatness that is within our reach and can be achieved. The goals that we set shall not just be enough to “get by”; we must think big! We must think tzidkus.

Let us keep in mind that HaShem only asks us to make this promise because He knows that we can.

This year, let us not sell ourselves short by taking aim at a goal that is low. Let us set our sights on greatness and in that case, as the saying goes, “if you aim for the moon and fall short, you will still end up in the stars”.