Sundown tonight marks the beginning of Yom Kippur. Translated it is the Day of Atonement and it is the most solemn of the Jewish holidays. It is the last day of the Ten Days of Repentance which began on Rosh Hashanah. According to scripture, each person's fate for the coming year is inscribed by God into "The Book of Life" on Rosh Hashanah and "sealed" on Yom Kippur. On the ten days in between Jews are commanded to seek forgiveness for any wrongs perpertrated against God or others. Yom Kippur is the day when public (in Synagogue) and private confessions are made and at the end of the holiday, one considers themselves absolved by God. If anyone apologizes to you for their actions, you are required to forgive them. I'm surely simplifying here (and Natalie, feel free to correct me on any of this) but I've always taken these to be the basics of this holiday.
As they often do on days as solemn as this, my thoughts have turned to my many blessings. In a time as unsettled as ours now, it feels especially important to teach my boys to believe in something. I don't claim to have the answers, and I believe in guiding them to make their own choices. But I was raised Jewish and the traditions are ingrained in me. So we simplify. We talk of what we are sorry for. We speak of what we plan to do differently in the coming year. We are thankful and mindful and we make resolutions.
Some of the apologies are the same every year: I'm sorry I lose my temper too quickly. I'm sorry for not paying enough attention. I'm sorry for not working harder and helping more with the finances. Many of the resolutions carry from year to year: This year I will read more. I resolve to spend more time talking to my husband. I promise to try and order take-out less and put the laundry away quicker.
At temple last week the children were asked what they were thankful for. One small boy said that he was thankful for his feet so that he could run. Simple, but true. When it was his turn, Jake said that he was thankful for his life. I guess that kind of sums it up. My list is wonderfully long, but in a nutshell, my ten-year-old got it right.
Whether you celebrate or not, I wish each of you a year filled with blessings and the strength to live up to your resolutions.Read More