Tonight is Kol Nidre. Tomorrow is Yom Kippur. As a young lad in a Conservative Shul, whose family only went to services on the High Holy Days, there was a sense of dread that came along with those words. It meant fasting, and repenting and sitting in a room for hours and hours… I would be bored out of my mind, looking for every excuse to sneak outside and hang with my friends. There were no “kids” services back then… at least I don’t think there were… so I was faced with all I did wrong, and what I would need to change. It was judgement… it was ominous.Yom Kippur still has a gravitas for me… there IS a heaviness… and yes, there is a judgement… but there is also a light… a bright… and as I continue to learn more and study, I see both the power and opportunity there is in this holiday. It is like the debate we had at the Yeshiva in Jerusalem over the word “fear.” Do we fear G-d or be in awe of G-d? Our particular group found the word awe more inspiring and positive, and easier to get behind. And while I am not a fan of fear or using it, or even the word, as a way to keep us in line, I do now see that both are valid and significant.
Like G-d Himself, Yom Kippur is a day of fear… AND a day of awe!
Is it fun to sit with all the things you promised to do but did not? No way, regret is a horrible thing… a bitter pill… but that time can also inspire and educate and be a visceral reminder to not do it again. Yom Kippur is not only about asking for forgiveness, but giving it, as well… and especially to ourselves.Most importantly, Yom Kippur gives us the very real opportunity to RETURN… to ourselves and who we were… to the dreams and goals we had… to the loving and kind and open-minded person we used to be… to the REAL YOU… to OUR SOUL… and to HASHEM. This makes this day filled with LIGHT AND HOPE.
Now, we need to remember that EVERY day can be holy, can be filled with miracles… EVERY day offers us the opportunity to start again, forgive and learn and move forward. Yom Kippur happens to have a special energy, a unique quality that makes it even Holier, even more powerful. On Yom Kippur the extra prayer service makes the day itself a door to atonement. The Five services matching the Five Levels Of The Soul. Thanks to Rabbi Avi Rabin and the Mensch group at Chabad Of West Hills for this Shiur/Class on this matter.
According to the lesson, we bond with G-d in three ways. The first is by living out our potential and performing mitzvos. The second is the inner and deeper connection we can have directly with Hashem. The third is simply because we are Jewish, and thus one with G-d. That seems like more of a pass, so we’ll set that aside for the moment.
The first two I know I need to work on and do more with. Yet, it is just as important to not beat myself up. I… we all… need to realize that we are diamonds waiting to shine. We are more than we think we are or thought we were. We are NOT broken. With each and every day, we have a chance to do mitzvot. And with each and every day we have a chance to do more.Let us not be afraid of the things we did not do… or have done and regret, but be afraid of losing our connection with Hashem. The fear should be for us and that amazing connection and relationship. Let us also be afraid of losing the connection with ourselves… but let that “fear” inspire us to action and fulfillment.
Dwell in that for a bit. The loss and frustration… Do it in a controlled and open way. Let it resonate and work its way through your body… and then turn it into awe and possibility… love and action. Let us find the bright and the light… and let us return… to all we were and all we can be. Every day is a miracle, so be humble and grateful. Tomorrow is a miracle’s miracle… one step even higher. Use it to inspire. Use it to return… return… return…