October 07, 2008

Wrestling With Atonement- Yom Kippur Kraziness

I am willing to bet that few people have written a post about Yom Kippur while listening to Wild Cherry's Play That Funky Music. It is not really the sort of music that one thinks about as setting a proper mood for introspection but it happens to be what is playing on iTunes right now. In another moment I'll shift gears and put on something more appropriate, but this will work for now.

In a relatively short period of time the sun will rise and set and rise and set and another Yom Kippur will have come and gone. And so I find myself sitting in the dark contemplating what it all means to me and what I have learned.

I'll start out by quoting from Moments When I feel Closest To G-d:

"I have written a number of times about my struggles with G-d, how I Yelled
at G-d
and the challenges I have had with davening. If you are really interested you can read more here, here and here. There are probably a couple more links but that is enough time shilling for my own blog.

If you are here you are probably interested in what I have to say or trapped beneath a heavy object and unable to do move away from the keyboard. If you are trapped and without an internet connection I encourage you to search for meaning in what I say, I do all the time because what is the purpose of living if there is no meaning in life.

That is not really tongue in cheek, it is just my wry sense of humor saying that we all need to find a reason to be here and that it is an individual thing that does not have to mirror your neighbor."
I used to dislike Yom Kippur immensely. I didn't really find meaning in it. It was a day that seemed to be predicated upon enduring being uncomfortable. I didn't find the davening to be significant, meaningful or interesting. Most of the people around me spent the time in shul complaining about something and few had anything positive to say.

At some point that feeling changed, but I can't say when. I have been trying to figure out when and what changed, but it is like grabbing smoke. The harder I try the harder it is to determine. So if you'll bear with me I am going to to just ramble a bit.

Unetaneh Tokef grabs me
"On Rosh Hashanah it is written and Yom Kippur it is sealed
How many shall pass on and how many shall come to be;
who shall live and who shall die;
who shall see ripe old age and who shall not;
who shall perish by fire
and who by water;
who by sword and who by beast;
who by hunger and who by thirst;"

Part of me shrugs my shoulder at it all. It is easy to blow it off and say that people die, earthquakes happen, fires burn and the world goes on. Certainly I won't say that divine punishment is the reason for natural disasters. Neither will I say that some people die early because of some unknowable divine plan. That is not how I roll.

But I have come to appreciate setting aside time to sit down and take a hard look at my life. It is not always easy to engage in that sort of introspection, to take a hard look at the good and the bad. And that is what I do.

I try to take time to consider who I am. I am a flawed individual. There are many things that I need to improve upon. It would be unfair, unreasonable and unwarranted to suggest otherwise. I have made mistakes that I am very sorry for. I have traveled upon some dark roads that I wish that I could have avoided.

I don't expect to find salvation by admitting all my sins. I don't believe that with a few words they can all just be forgiven and washed away. That doesn't make any sense to me. Neither do I believe that I should engage in endless self-flagellation for them.

What I will try to do is the best I can to improve. I'll do what I can not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to try and be better for the future. A large part of that effort will be spent on trying to help my children avoid the pitfalls that I fell for and into. It was a challenging year, but that is how it goes.

So here we are at the end of the post. Have I learned anything more about myself? Nope. Not sure that I have done much other than babble. But I am a believer in the exercise so if I am still blogging you can expect to see this kind of post again.

And for what it is worth, if I have offended or upset you my sincere apologies.

G'mar Chatima Tova. I wish you an easy fast. May you be inscribed and sealed.

1 comment:

shirasimcha said...

G'mar Chatima Tova to you too Jack :)