Monday, September 21, 2015

Various Pre YK Thoughts

It's the night before Kol Nidrei night. Here's a post from nine years back (I shuddered as I wrote that number of years) about YK.


Yom Kippur is an unusual day, one could say that it's an extreme attempt to attain purity and forgiveness through isolation and separation that we are neither able nor expected to keep up on a regular basis. On the other hand, the day before Yom Kippur is the last typical day of life before Yom Kippur. How we live on this day is telling. Perhaps the reason why eating on Erev Yom Kippur is a mittzvah is that it's a litmus test: Do we consider our regular life activities, things like eating, to be a mitzvah, something holy that we do for G-d's sake, or is it an impulse that we don't even consider?


What's the difference between
clay in the potter's hand
stone in the mason''s hand
iron in the welder's hand
helm in the sailor's hand
glass in the glazier's hand
cloth in the draper's hand
silver in the smith's hand?
Seven is the nature number
It represents where we live
In time, place - within G-d
Yet we are each different
and we feel G-d differently
Some are navigated boats
Others raw creative clay
We are all in G-d's hand.


Why is Sukkot the next major holiday after Yom Kippur? Why do people start building the Sukkah immediately following the end of Yom Kippur? The message might be that the way out of all aveirot - mistakes is boundaries. Any "sin" we do is related to a breaking of boundaries, whether it's in our relationship with G-d, each other, or ourselves. A Sukkah doesn't need four extra high, super solid walls, just a minimal amount of protection. And everyone's Sukkah looks different. But everyone needs boundaries. As Yom Kippur drifts away may we each be blessed to build our own Sukkah. And may we be blessed with proper boundaries and be saved from making mistakes, particularly the same ones we made in the past due to lack of proper boundaries.


"Man's inhumanity against man."  That's what Irwin Berman said to his son Seth as he walked exited the theater after seeing "Bang the Drum Slowly."  That's what I'm thinking about now. So much of what he confess on Yom Kippur is man vs. man.  So much of our pain in this life is casused by us to eachother.

The words we pray are not meant to be incantations. Rather, they are calls to inner and outer change.  We're guaranteed for results if we do the 13 attributes of G-d.  That's what we're told, to do them, not simply to say them.


The Chernobyl Maggid explains that although zman usually is translated as time, it also means to prepare. The various zmanim in the Jewish year pave the way to have that theme carried through the year. Thus, freedom is initiated at Pesach, Torah at Shavuot and Happiness at Sukkot. It reminds me of the idea of ma'aseh avotsiman lebanim - that the avot allowed certain energies to be taken and run with by their descendants.


Yom Kippur By Philip Schultz

You are asked to stand and bow your head,
consider the harm you've caused,
the respect you've withheld,
the anger misspent, the fear spread,
the earnestness displayed
in the service of prestige and sensibility,
all the callous, cruel, stubborn, joyless sins
in your alphabet of woe
so that you might be forgiven.
You are asked to believe in the spark
of your divinity, in the purity
of the words of your mouth
and the memories of your heart.
You are asked for this one day and one night
to starve your body so your soul can feast
on faith and adoration.
You are asked to forgive the past
and remember the dead, to gaze
across the desert in your heart
toward Jerusalem. To separate
the sacred from the profane
and be as numerous as the sands
and the stars of heaven.
To believe that no matter what
you have done to yourself and others
morning will come and the mountain
of night will fade. To believe,
for these few precious moments,
in the utter sweetness of your life.
You are asked to bow your head
and remain standing,
and say Amen.


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