And this shall be a statute for ever to you, that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your nefesh..." (Lev. 16:29) Rabbi Hiya opened [his discourse and] said, "my nefesh have I desired You in the night; my ruach within me I seek You..." (Isaiah 26:9) [To explain] "my nefesh have I desired You in the night": [if it means to say that my nefesh desired You at night] it should have read: 'my nefesh desired You at night'. What does it mean, "my nefesh have I desired You in the night"? "my ruach within me I seek You," should have said: 'It [my ruach] seeks You'. We have learned that G‑d is the ruach and nefesh of all, so Israel are saying, "You are my nefesh and ruach," [therefore] I have desired You, to cling to You, "I seek You" to find Your goodwill.

Rabbi Yosi [gave an alternate explanation of the verse and] said: At the time one sleeps in his bed, his nefesh departs, ascends and testifies concerning that person's activities of that entire day. [Therefore, when the nefesh leaves the body at night while he sleeps] the body says to the nefesh, "My nefesh, have I desired you in the night [and I await your return to me; when] my ruach is within me [during the day while awake], I seek [to serve] You" .

Another explanation for, "my nefesh have I desired You in the night..." The Congregation of Israel said before G‑d, "my nefesh have I desired You in the night," so long as I find myself in exile [considered night] among other nations, and my nefesh is satiated by all evil that is connected with the nations, "I have desired You" in order to return to my place [to the Land of Israel]. "With my ruach within me I seek You" means, even though they subject my children to every kind of oppression, the Divine Spirit does not depart from me [for I have not become defiled from sin] that they may seek You and perform Your commandments.

Rabbi Yitzhak said: Israel said before G‑d, so long as my nefesh is within me, "have I desired You in the night." What is meant by, "in the night"? The nefesh covets You at night [when malchut reigns and I sleep, for the nefesh's source is from malchut]. "my ruach within me I seek You," the ruach stirs within me [by day, when I awaken and tiferet reigns, for the ruach's source is from tiferet], I am aroused to seek You in order to do Your will. "For when Your justices are on the earth," at the time when justice [Zeir Anpin] comes down to earth to bring fragrance to the world [to sweeten the judgments]. Then "the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness" [the judgments having become malchut called righteousness], they are then capable of tolerating the judgments of righteousness and mankind will not perish as a result of it. When will "the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness"? When Your sentences are on the earth" [when the sentences, which are Zeir Anpin, descend to the earth to sweeten the world]. Rabbi Hizkiyah said, "my nefesh have I desired You in the night" refers to the Congregation of Israel [malchut which is the secret of nefesh], while "with my ruach within me I seek You" refers to the Holy One, blessed be He [Zeir Anpin, the secret of ruach]

BeRahamim LeHayyim: What does the above mean to you, and why is it revealed now?

It is easy to lose track of the focus, but the entire Zohar above is an exposition on Yom Kippur! The Zohar launches its discussion based on the word "nefesh" from the Torah verse concerning affliction of one's nefesh on that holy day. For we are real nefesh people, and on Yom Kippur we consume real nefesh food, nourishment from Above. We don't eat because we are fully nefeshy nourished.

When and if a Divine ruach stirs in you, STOP, LOOK, AND LISTEN! All of our earthly desires are hidden yearnings to bond with the spiritual. All earthly delights are our experiencing of the Holy Sparks that have fallen into this world. Our nefesh's thirst for the Living G‑d. Creating a sacred space for this experience is the reason for Yom Kippur, for all the Holydays, for ritual, for prayer.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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