I read recently 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 for a strong, vibrant and peaceful Israel under God’s sheltering protection.
I pray for a strong, vibrant and peaceful United States of America to stand as an example of freedom, liberty and hope against tyranny and oppression in so many places around the globe.
I pray that each of us will be up to any challenges the new year presents.
My prayer is that we will develop a deep appreciation for all of the blessings in our lives and take nothing for granted.
Let us be partners with God in God’s work, just as we ask God to help us in our own lives.
It may not be easy to fast, but most matters of true and enduring worth are not obtained with ease. Or, if easily obtained, they may not be fully appreciated or truly valued. May you be so focused on the meaning of Yom Kippur and so intent in achieving its purpose that the day seems short.
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.
G’mar chatimah tovah! Easy fast,
P.S. This Yom Kippur, there will be 2 opportunities for Torah Study (in addition to the readings in the worship). After the Rabbi’s Drasha, Ruth Bergman will teach us. Then 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.