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Monday, September 27, 2004

Yom Kippur

Yesterday, I was browsing at The Book Thing (one of my favorite places ever), when Russell, who runs the place, came up to me and said, "I have a weird question for you." Whenever questions are prefaced like that, I know I am in store for a question about Judaism. He asked me, "What do I say to people now that Yom Kippur is over? Is it weird to ask if they had a good fast? Can I still say Shana Tova?" I told him that was actually a really good question, because it is kind of weird to ask someone if their fast was good. I told him he can keep saying Shana Tova because the holiday season is still upon us. Then he threw out an interesting line that is probably not so appropriate for this blog (you can e-mail me if you are that interested) and left me to find wonderful, free books. So when I think about how to characterize my Yom Kippur, I guess the best word is meaningful. Which, honestly, was a surprise. I was talking to a friend Erev Yom Kippur and I was telling her that I didn't know what to expect this year. I have been feeling very distant from Hashem, so I wasn't sure how connected I was going to feel during my fasting and atonement. But for the first time in a long time, I really did connect. I cried my eyes out on Yom Kippur. Reading through the Al Chet prayer many times during Yom Kippur I realized a few things. The first is that I am human. I make mistakes. And those mistakes I make are the same mistakes as everyone else. If everyone wasn't making those mistakes, they wouldn't be part of the Al Chet prayer. Saying the confession over and over, I wasn't just doing lip service, I was really confessing the mistakes I have made over the past year. And Hashem was forgiving me for them. Which means I have to forgive myself as well. I often beat myself up for my imperfections and hold myself to a much higher standard than I hold others. I forgive others easily, but not myself. At the end of Yom Kippur, when the shofar was sounded, and my tears were dry, I definitely felt a weight off my shoulders. I know that I am allowed to make mistakes, confess them, be forgiven, and then move on. And that is what I plan to do. I was sent an e-mail this morning that I found very inspirational. The author said that at one point while she was single, she decided that she was going to be proud of her single years, she was going to make the most of that time of her life. That didn't mean that she would never have a bad day, but when she got married, she would know for herself that she grew and strived while she was alone. It is not easy being alone, I know I struggle every day with the pain of being on my own. But I hope that I can take that struggle and learn and grow from it and use it to strengthen myself.

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