As I write this on the eve of Yom Kippur, I would like to do two things. First is give a brief overview for those who don’t know much about the holiday, and the second is share some of my own personal thoughts and introspection of this very important day.
Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. It is the culmination of a 10 day period that begins on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. This 10 period, known as the 10 Days of Repentance, is the time we are judged by God and based on what we have done till now, and the degree of penitence we show, our future year is determined. The book opens for each person as Rosh Hashana begins, and closes as Yom Kippur ends. Jewish people even greet each other in this time with the phrase that conveys the wish that one will be written and inscribed for a good year. We fast, which is not just food but liquid as well, for 25 hours, as it begins around the time of sunset and ends the following day at darkness. The fasting is part of the prohibition of anything that involves what is considered earthly pleasures, such as physical intimacy and the wearing of any leather, particularly leather shoes. The idea is that we should be so connected with our spiritual connection to God that we should put ourselves in a position where we won’t be distracted by the pleasures and physical needs we have on most other days.
There are 2 days in the Jewish calendar when we are required to fast for 25 hours. One is the 9th Day of Av, which is widely accepted as the saddest day of the Jewish year, and the other is Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish year. I once heard a Rabbi say the following when speaking of these 2 days and the law of fasting. On the 9th of Av who would want to eat knowing how sad it is and on Yom Kippur who is able to eat knowing what’s at stake? As I like to say about Yom Kippur, it’s for all the marbles.
Although I accept the points I’ve shared till now, I wish to share my own personal perspective, a perspective I am fairly certain was probably shared by someone much greater than I will ever be a long time ago. As scary as Yom Kippur is, and as important and solemn as the day is, it is also the greatest day of the year, for it represents the greatest gift from God. That gift is opportunity. The opportunity to stop and reflect with an open heart, to ask your fellow human being for forgiveness, and most of all to ask God to allow you to start over and put your mistakes behind you. It’s a wonderful and beautiful concept, and as the sun sets tomorrow, as awestruck as I will be, I will also be grateful. Grateful for another chance.
To all those who do, I wish you an easy fast, and to all of you I wish you the happiest, healthiest and safest days ahead.
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