The Day of Atonement is at hand! Yikes, ominous phrase. I prefer my father’s version, the Day of At-ONE-Ment.
Over time I have begun to feel that Yom Kippur is a day I must get ready for, a day that requires preparation beforehand. It is always something I was aware of in Judaism but I have felt that need to prepare intensify over time. This year however (and by year I mean 5772) the preparations have been difficult…as in non-existent. Unfortunately my school and the High Holy Days do not mesh well (even though I now live in New York City AKA the other Jewish homeland). I find that as Yom Kippur approaches my mind floods with the actions, inactions, thoughts and conversations that I have come to regret over the year. Yet before I can open the valve to release them I remember the paper I have not started, the meeting that needs an agenda, the article that I have yet to finish reading or the inboxes (yes multiple) that continue to grow. On certain Jewish holidays and on Shabbat (Sabbath) it is ideal to eschew all such stressful issues and allow yourself to breathe…but breathing is just too far down on my Google Tasks list.
Perhaps that is the purpose of Yom Kippur; the Day of AtOneMent is the day to release the valve. As we daven (pray) in our starved and occasionally smelly stupor (I am sorry HaShem [God] but this is how it feels sometimes) perhaps our body and soul’s reaction to this state of being, which includes an excessive amount of standing for those with low to no blood sugar, is that release. As we allow our bodies to do what they do (otherwise known as bodily functions) we release the regrets we have been holding in. As our brains lose some of their cognitive force (as a result of starvation, have you picked up on that yet?) so go the grudges that we have been overanalyzing. As our bodies sway struggling to determine whether they are following the rhythm of the prayers or simply losing their balance perhaps the aches and pains of the year settle. Yom Kippur is a time to reboot.
This year I have found myself feeling especially spiritually vulnerable as I truck through the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe, which fill the time between eating apples and honey and salivating when you see dust). Finding balance is always difficult but for the past couple of weeks it has been an especially elusive goal. I choose to view these difficulties as a call to embrace the reason HaShem (or whomever you believe did so) granted us this day.
I suppose it may not be appropriate to make ALL of my apologies in this public setting. However I would like to say that there is a great deal that I know I need to improve on in myself and as I have been on that journey some people are left neglected or hurt. In the midst of this mildly ‘quippy’ post I would like to offer a sincere sentiment. I have hurt others, some I know of and some I do not. I have held on to grudges, which are in fact nasty things that produce nothing positive. I have hidden and allowed myself to lose sight of what is important. It is time to strive to keep my eyes open and my awareness sharp.
I hope that this year is what it needs to be for everyone and that we find our footing, achieve our dreams and add some new ones.