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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Yom Kippur Thoughts

I'm in a contemplative mood today, facing Yom Kippur this evening. I woke up to pouring rain, which just kind of set the stage. It's funny, because I remember that it also rained last year on Erev Yom Kippur. Guess it's a New Jersey tradition.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to start anew each year, but a bit troubled by the fact that the opportunity seems to go to waste. Each year, shiny, cleany and new, we set out for the year, cleansed of transgression. And each year, I fail once again. Don't worry, I'm not beating myself up profusely, I know that I'm human. But I guess I just wish I could look back and say, "Yes, I did a good job this year, I learned and was extremely careful not to hurt others." When the truth is, I wasn't so careful.

The Al Chet prayer, in which we pound our chests and ask for forgiveness from G-d, which we repeat numerous times during Yom Kippur, highlights many of these transgressions and mistakes:

"For the sin that we have sinned before you...
through harsh speech
through inner thoughts
through wronging a neighbor
through a session of vice
by showing contempt for parents and teachers
through desecration of the Name
through impure lips
through denial and false promises
with haughtiness
with the idle chatter of our lips
in judgment
with obstinacy
by gossip-mongering
through baseless hatred...

The list goes on and doesn't list nearly all the mistakes we commit during the year.

There's power in the fact that these transgressions are listed in the prayerbook - it makes you realize that you are not the only person who has faltered; and you are not the only one who is sorry. It forces you to focus and realize what needs to be worked on. And it forces you to take stock and realize that you are one among many. There is a collective consciousness that builds when a congregation comes together to confess these sins, and at the end of Yom Kippur, one hopefully finds the experience cleansing and walks away refreshed.

In the spirit of Yom Kippur, I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I might have offended or hurt through anything I have written on my blog. It was not my intention, and I am recalcitrant. Please forgive me

May everyone have an easy fast and a very meaningful Yom Kippur!

Update - please read this post.

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