I recently read that we sometimes refer to Yom Kippur as Yom HaKippurim. This is not just the Day of Atonement (singular), but a Day of Atonements (plural). What can that mean? We seek forgiveness for ourselves. We seek forgiveness for our families. We seek forgiveness for the sins of our relatives, now deceased (for instance pledging Tzedaka in their memory). There is an interesting Midrash that as we seek forgiveness from God, God also seeks forgiveness, faith, trust and understanding from us.
The Almighty knows that we do not and cannot fully understand God’s ways. As parents we may ask our children to do things our way, to trust us because we know better and to have faith that one day they will come to understand. Even more, we tell them that one day they will thank us for what we have required of them or how we may punish them. Yet, we ask them to forgive us for the stress, anxiety or even pain we may cause them as we help them to grow into mature, contributing adults in our society.
Has anyone ever used the cliché expression that this hurts me more than it hurts you? Is it hard to imagine God asking us to trust that whatever is inscribed and sealed for us in the Sefer HaChayim is for our own good? If God has given each of us responsibility for completing the work of creation and helping bring holiness and betterment to the world, is it hard to imagine God asking to be forgiven for imposing such an awesome responsibility on us?
My prayer is that each of us and our families will be inscribed and sealed for a year filled with the love of the Almighty and God’s love of each of us, a year of Torah, mazel (the stars aligned for us), brachah (blessings), hatzlachah (success), parnasah (livelihood) and gezunt (good health). I pray that each of us will be up to any challenges that God may present. Let us be partners with God in God’s work, just as we ask God to help us in our own lives. My prayer is that we will develop a deep appreciation for all of the blessings in our lives and take nothing for granted.
If you have not experienced Neilah at Adat Shalom, I encourage you to do so this year. The warmth and special holiness of the final moments of Yom Kippur are palpable. The Doors of the Ark are open and everyone has the opportunity to approach with private intensity.
Just as the doors of the Aron Kodesh are open, the Gates of Heaven are manifestly open for our most heartfelt prayers, especially when they include thoughtful prayers for the well-being of others. Our Sages tell us that one of the highest forms of prayer is the selfless one. Who do you know who needs blessing and healing? Who doesn’t? There is awesome power in the giving of sincere blessings to others. Thus the expression: “One who blesses others will be blessed.”
G’mar chatimah tovah! Easy fast,
P.S. Even on this Shabbat of Yom Kippur, there will be an opportunity for Torah Study. At 3:00 p.m. Adat Shalom holds its annual “Ask the Rabbi.” Rabbi Bergman is most approachable and accessible, but this Yom Kippur tradition is a congregational favorite. So come prepared!
P.S.S. We say that Teshuvah, Tefilah and Tzedaka have the power to transform any potential harshness of our destiny. As we are partners with God in Tikkun Olam, please remember to bring Tzedaka and food items for Yad Ezra to Kol Nidre services.