Yom Kippur 5783
By Jo Strausz Rosen
Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, is considered the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Traditionally, we fast, attend synagogue and practice the rituals of introspection and repentance during worship services. Each year, we live, act, and strive toward our goals and achieve new levels of skills. Reflecting on our own experiences, we can look closely at ourselves, be mindful of what needs tending, be willing to look seriously at our faults, and rededicate ourselves to be better humans. In this vein, everyone should set aside time for self-improvement. A nightly exercise could be to review the day’s progress and declare whether we felt it was a pass or a fail in terms of our goals for ourselves as human beings. If we keep track during the year, perhaps it will be easier to recall the “fails” on Yom Kippur so we can reflect on them and repent them.
One of my Rabbis once said, “We should not be the same person the day after Yom Kippur that we were the day before Yom Kippur. We should be moving ahead to elevate our lives to a higher level.”
While Gd forgives us on Yom Kippur, we must also forgive ourselves and let go of our failures. We must keep our focus on what we have learned and how we can be better humans. It’s always easier to point the finger at others whose trespasses are obvious to us. Revealing our own to Gd takes courage.
The holidays remind us to use each meaningful moment for prayer to reflect on our losses and give gratitude for the goodness in our lives. How can we make a difference in the New Year?
From Temple Israel’s Rabbi Harold Loss this year on Rosh Hashanah, “We are called upon to consider not only the problems we face, our personal failures, but also to begin to look to the future with gratitude for our blessings and forgiveness in our hearts. Consider the power of gratitude…”
“On Rosh Hashanah, it is inscribed and on Yom Kippur, it is sealed.” May G-d inscribe us in the Book of Life for another year. Although none of us can know who shall reach ripe old age, it is within each of us to choose to celebrate every day we are given.
At Jewish Senior Life we honor our community and the ripened beauty in our elder residents. No matter the length of our days, the continued appreciation of the sanctity of life, the beauty and goodness in our world, of friendship and connection and above all, purpose, is possible. As we enter this holy season, let us continue to reflect on what we have. Whatever our struggles or transgressions, whatever our age, we can change the course of our future, through the Torah prescription of repentance, prayer, and charity.
Shanah tova u’metukah. May it be a good and sweet New Year for us all.