I’m sitting with a blank page before me and a million words to choose from and I have no idea what to write.
What can I say about the day of atonement?
How can I put into words my feelings about Yom Kippur?
Maybe I’m supposed to deliver a rousing message, like an indignant rabbi sermonising. Maybe I’m supposed to ask the world in general for forgiveness (G-d knows I need it). Maybe I’m supposed to dwell upon memories of Yom Kippurs of the past, and share my hopes for those of the future. But I can’t really do any of that. For me, Yom Kippur never was a day. When I was a child, it never registered in my mind. When my family began observing the chagim, Yom Kippur was conspicuously absent, because it couldn’t be celebrated with food or joy. We were wrong. It is a joyous day, believe it or not; at the very least, joy is hidden in there somewhere. Joy and confidence because Hashem will forgive us. He will. At least that’s what Chabad.org tells me. I’m not so sure. Spending Yom Kippur alone, on an island of Torah observance surrounded by assimilation, is certainly going to be hard. But this year, I want to change my perception of the day.
How did you used to view Yom Kippur? Have your feelings for it changed over the years?