Save Animal and Man on Yom Kippur
What will we take with us to Yom Kippur? What justification can we offer in exchange for atonement?
The Ohr HaChaim Hakodosh says: "One of the defenses a person can present in the hope of being acquitted on the Day of Judgment is that he did not sin with a complacent heart." Even though he will be charged and punished for every gram of improper thoughts, still, his judgment will be lighter if he did not commit the sins wholeheartedly (Ki Siso 32 31).
Elsewhere it is written: "I deem it noteworthy regarding the korbonos, relying on what is written prior (Tanchuma Shofetim) that Hashem swore to stand the world and its creations on trial, and whoever says that Hashem is One Who overlooks, will have his innards [similarly] overturned (Yerushalmi Shekolim 85:1). If so - if the sinning soul is to die, how can it bring a sacrifice and be atoned?" (Yechezkel 18)
"Apparently, from the aspect of justice, this is correct, because when a person sins, he forfeits his status of human being, as Chazal said (Sotah 3a): 'A person sins only if seized by a foolish spirit' which renders him akin to an animal. When he repents, a human spirit returns and elevates him from the status of animal to that of man. Is it proper to execute such a person instead of an animal?" (Vayikra Shemini 9 8)
During these days, especially on Yom Kippur itself, we must arouse that inner point within us and leave that level of animality and return to the level of man. We must rekindle the truth which burns within us, that G-dly part inside, the truth which was not spoiled or sullied through the pollution of sin. From there will burst forth remorse to uproot evil and allow the mind and intellect to reign, together with a resolution to abandon the sin in the future. This is why we pound our chests in vidui, "...over the sin which we sinned unknowingly."