Well, here it is. The final and holiest of the High Holy Days. Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement. The one day in the year when even the non-practicing come to some or all of the five worship services. The day when you confess your sins to God and man, resolve not to do them again, and pray that God acknowledges your sincerity before He closes the book on you and seals your fate for another year. The day when you fast all day, so the discomfort of your body reinforces the discomfort of your soul and helps you remember your sins.
Today I don’t need to fast to discomfort my body. Since about nightfall — that is, the start of this holy day — I have been running a fever, and my skin from head to toe, the roots of all my teeth, and all my joints have been racked with pain as if on fire. Nothing unusual about that, I always get that way when something is wrong. Today it means that right away I start the day with violating God’s commandment for this day. At least in the morning I have to drink and eat a little so I can take medicines that keep me going and others to relieve some of this pain. The violation is from the cautionary note on the meds that say “take with food.” Not a good start.
The year 5775 was particularly relevant to the significance of this holy day. After a few years of increasing involvement in secular affairs, I reached a point of frustration that affected my health and lead me to a decision that resulted in letting my friends down when they needed me the most. Of course some understood but to others I became a persona non grata, and who can blame them. But before I resolve never to do it again and claim a level of sincerity in that resolve that’s worthy of God’s forgiveness, I still have to put careful limits on the promises I make and the responsibilities I might still be entrusted with. I have to remain aware of my age and condition; the mind may still be willing but the body, well, that’s another story.
Originally I planned to spend the High Holy Days in study and reflection on the meaning of this holy day. When the secular political events during the week proved to be too distracting, I thought I’d make a contribution by collecting some notes on ancient biblical wisdom that is very relevant to today’s issues. Fat chance. Instead I answered the siren call of setting some facts straight (just the facts, ma’am…), and posted some blogs which I am sure will not be well received in some circles. Did I only throw fuel on the fire? I hope not.
Fulfillment of my original intention for these High Holy Days will have to wait. I’ll have to chip away at it throughout this year 5776. That’s one way I can claim sincere atonement.
G’mar Chatimah Tovah, and