Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yom Kippur: A Year in Review

Yom Kippur. A day for introspection. A holiday dedicated to atoning for a year's worth of sins with the hope that you'll be reinstated in the book of life.

Praying and reflection are compulsory. Eating is prohibited. Drinking water is also disallowed (except for those with a medical reason). It's a day to be uncomfortable. And it's a day to wallow in self loathing.

Let's not kid ourselves. It sucks.

Sure, you can sugar coat it. Reflecting on the negative gives you time to think about being a better person and how you can go about achieving that ever-repositioning goal.

But let's face it. We have sinned.
We have lied. We have killed. We have gossiped. We have cheated.
Whether we did it intentionally or not, everyone has sinned (against g-d or against fellow man).

Atoning for it all communally reminds us that we're charged with keeping everyone in the right. "We" being the operative word.

Yet, all of those things will happen again next year--with or without a self regulating community.
We will kill. We will lie. We will cheat. We will gossip.

And it will all happen again year after year. So what's really the point?

Of the 613 commandments in the old testament, how many of them really bother you when you disobey? What of the old testament really strikes a cord of moral awareness?

It changes every year for me. This year I had a few thoughts that really stuck with me though, so I thought I'd share them...

First, a question by way of example. If two people are arguing and one is sticking to his moral principles and the other is hurt emotionally consequently, what's more important sticking to your moral guns or repairing the damaged feelings.

Second thought--reflecting on regret. Every year I struggle with this one. Does repenting imply regret? Is it false repenting or disingenuous to repent if you don't regret something?

Final thought here. People are allowed to break the fast for medical reasons, such as illness, pregnancy or being to small (children under nine aren't allowed to fast). But people who can't fast for medical reasons feel terrible about their inability to participate. Guilty. Really, not being able to keep the fast is a reminder that something isn't quite right. Aside from eating with them, how can we make people feel whole?

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