Yom Kippur is ultimately a joyous day, promising forgiveness, atonement and reconciliation for all who seek it. But in classically Jewish fashion, the attainment of such things hinges on genuinely confronting and addressing our deepest fears, angers and hurts. Yom Kippur, as one of my nephews remarked when I explained this to him, is not for “wusses.”
That is true, I responded, but it does work. And by the end of the day, it builds to a crescendo of personal empowerment that really explains the profound joy felt at break-fasts throughout the world, a joy far deeper than that which can be explained by a glass of orange juice or a bagel, no matter how much one hates fasting.
On Yom Kippur we invoke a God who is prepared to look back on the very worst of what we have done and say, “I forgive you.” That willingness creates the safety to address the messes in our lives, and even to be a little God-like ourselves, finding new reserves of understanding and forgiveness for those who have wronged us over the past year or longer.
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