אל יפטר אלא מתוך דבר הלכה
Rabbi Yisroel Salanter zt”l during a moment of heartfelt tehuvah before kol - nidreh on Yom Kippur cried bitterly and exclaimed “Woe to us that the halachah is like Rebbi over his friend but not over his friends”.
He then elaborated. Rebbi believed Yom Kippur is mechaper without teshuvah since the day in itself is mechaper. However the Rabanan understood that the day is mechaper only with teshuvah. R’ Yisroel Salanter further added. “If we would pasken the halacha is like Rebbe over his friends we wouldn’t fear from the “אימת הדין” because the day in itself would be mechaper our sins even without repenting. The halachah is in favor of Rabanan when there is a dispute between them and Rebbe so teshuvah is necessary for the kapara and without it there is no kapparah. Therefore we are obligated to do a genuine repentance and then we will merit the day’s kaparah”.
R’ Yisroel also explained the Gemara in Kesubos קג)). A bas-kol announced on the day of Rebbi’s passing that all those present at Rebbi’s funeral will merit the world to come. Why specifically on the day of Rebbi’s passing a bas- kol declared this but not the passing day of any other Tannah?
He clarified that the Zohar says on the day a Tannah would pass away it was called his ‘הילולא’. On that day it would be ruled in the heavenly court according that that specific Tanna’s opinions and psakim.
The Yerushalmi says (יומא פא) ”Just as Yom Kippur is mechaper, so too the passing of a tzaddik is mechaper on klal yisroel”. If so, according to Rebbe who believed that Yom Kippur is mechaper even without teshuvah, so too is the passing of a tzaddik mechaper even without teshuvah- just like Yom Kippur.
As the Yeshivah in Shomayaim paskened like Rebbi on the day of his passing this included his opinion that the passing of a tzazadik is mechaper even without teshuvah. Hence all those present at the time of his passing merited a kappara and thereby the world to come.
(אורח ישרים כתובות קג)