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Happy Yom Kippur!
Mom with a View

Happy Yom Kippur!

Experience the joy of breaking free from the past and starting anew.

by

Most fast days are days of mourning for the Jewish people. When my children were young and allowed to eat I wouldn't let them have any treats on a fast day. "Something sad happened to the Jewish people today," I would tell them. "It's not appropriate to eat candy or other sweet snacks."

Not so with Yom Kippur. In fact on Yom Kippur the opposite was true. The children who were too young to fast were encouraged to eat something special. I wanted them to recognize that Yom Kippur is actually a happy day. I wanted them to understand that Yom Kippur is a day of joy and opportunity.

On other fast days, our lack of eating is a deprivation that emphasizes our mournful state.

On Yom Kippur we don't eat because we are like angels. We are soaring above the earth, living as souls, not tethered to the needs of our bodies.

On Yom Kippur, we are given a glimpse of who we can be if we don't fall back into familiar negative patterns and behaviors. Just for that day we transcend our corporality and touch the infinite (or at least we try to).

And we experience joy – the joy of knowing there are no limits to what we can accomplish and how much we can grow, the joy of knowing that we are not trapped by our past actions, the joy of the chance to start anew, the joy of our fresh beginning.

All the mistakes we made in the past are extinguished, are nonexistent. We can make fresh commitments (small ones) and new decisions (also small ones).

So it's a happy day. A cleansing day. A spiritually auspicious day. We know all too well the pull of routine, the inertia of habit, the rut of our usual patterns. This is our opportunity to break free, to (quoting a certain world leader) "push the reset button."

This is a day of joy because it is such a gift to us, such a kindness from our Father in Heaven. It is day of joy because it wards off despair and encourages hope. It is a day of joy because tomorrow we will really be different.

Published: September 20, 2009


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Visitor Comments: 11

(11) Shoshana - Jerusalem, September 9, 2013 5:35 PM

answer to #7 and to #9

We are not supposed to wait until Yom Kippur to do teshuva .

1 - Our Sages tell us "Do teshuva one day before you die. And being you do not know when this will be, you will spend your whole life doing teshuva".

2- In the daily Shemona Esrei prayer there is a special place to do teshuva and we are supposed to do this daily and even three times a day if need be. This is in the "Shma Koleinu" prayer "Ana H-shem, I have sinned before You," and then you state the sin. It should be in your Siddur.

3- Every erev Rosh Chodesh (except for Tishri) is called "Yom Kippur Katan", a little Yom Kippur, and there is a special prayer said in shul at Mincha, asking for forgiveness. These are stop- over stations on our way to Yom Kippur, the holiest day, when we are cleansed and forgiven.

4- Aside from the above, a person should accustom himself to immediately doing teshuva. For instance, let's say you forget to say a blessing before eating. So immediately stop and say, " I'm sorry. I know I did wrong, I won't do it again" and you are forgiven. You can also add, "I was careless and didn't pay attention. From now on I'm going to be more careful."

5- a person should never wait until Yom Kippur. How does he know he's even going to make it?

With best wishes that we should all make it and be inscribed for a good sweet year.

(10) Anonymous, September 29, 2009 2:24 AM

To #5

I believe you are mistaken. Y"K is a Yom Tov, and those who are not fasting should eat special foods, as befits a Yom Tov. I have friends who make a Shabbos cholent for Y"K for their children, so that they understand the specialness of the day, and that it needs to be treated with all the respect of a Yom Tov- for those not fasting, it means eating special foods that as Emunah said, reflect the joyfulness of this day of atonement. I always give my children special treats, and explain to them why. Y"K is NOT a sad day, it is a serious day, including a serious type of joy.

(9) Chileno, September 28, 2009 4:14 PM

I agree with Jacob (September 27, 2009)

I totally agree with Jacob, why waiting a whole year to tell God that we are sorry for our wrong deeds? As a son that I am, I have never waited a full year to tell my dad that I'm sorry for the bad things I do every day. ¿What is it that I don't understand?

(8) Yisraelah, September 28, 2009 2:40 PM

Wonderfully Said ...

I agree - the last two paragraphs are great. It put the holiday into a positive perspective when so many look at it as such a solemn day. Yes, it is a solemn day but it doesn't have to have such a negative aura around it. It really is a blessing.

(7) Jacob, September 27, 2009 3:37 AM

Reminder

A nice article, but why is it that we only have one day of the year to reflect on the mistakes of our past, when really, it is something we should do much more often? Why do we get so caught up in our day-to-day lives that we forget about this, except on the once a year when Yom Kippur rolls around again, and then straight after most of the time, we get right back into doing the same routine, habits and behaviours, because we know that it won't be for another year that we'll have to do Teshuvah? Shouldn't Teshuvah be something we do all year, not just from 40 days before Yom Kippur?

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