It’s almost here.
Experiencing Yom Kippur on its own terms can feel heavy, guilt provoking, and oppressive. That’s only true when you let confessing your (already existent) faults somehow morph into being major Issues. The truth is that Issues (and their cousin, Baggage) are there whether or not you deal with them. Confessing that they are real is the first step towards putting all the luggage down.
The process begins the day before Yom Kippur. When you eat, of course the taste, smell and texture of the food talks to your body. This is how Hashem designed His world. Now, let them talk to your soul as well. Let yourself say the blessing and mean what you say. If, for instance you take a coffee as you head out, when you say, “Blessed are you……who brought everything into existence through His word” and think about the implications of these words, the effect is to atone for the sins that you may have done that involve food in the course of the year. Impulsive eating, non-kosher eating, eating without a bracha, all build your identity. They make you see yourself as a smart animal, not a truly human being in God's image. You say a bracha and it all changes. This is what brings you into the spirit of Yom Kippur. You have taken a basic simple activity – eating - and treated it as you should instead of separating you from Hashem, eating led you to Him. It became a bridge instead of a wall.
THE BAD NEWS
If you ignore your faults, they continue existing. They lead you to disliking yourself, and worse still, living with hopes of somehow escaping at least briefly the tedium and stress of life.
THE GOOD NEWS
Your faults are what makes your life real, challenging, and (believe it or not) happy. You make choices and the good ones take you further than you ever could have gone without it being tested. The angels are static. They are compared to soldiers standing at attention, always ready to move at the commander’s word. You are mobile. The person you were yesterday maybe you, but it may or may not be the finished product. Humans are “walking” constantly. The main challenge is noticing that you are actually making choices, and that the choices you make today are authoring who you will be on your last day. There's increasing evidence that the payoff of working past age 65 may go beyond income. Some studies have linked working past retirement with better health and longevity. A 2016 study of about 3,000 people, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, suggested that working even one more year beyond retirement age was associated with a 9% to 11% lower risk of dying during the 18-year study period, regardless of health.
A 2015 study of 83,000 older adults over 15 years, published in the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease, suggested that, compared with people who retired, people who worked past age 65 were about three times more likely to report being in good health and about half as likely to have serious health problems, such as cancer or heart disease.
Other studies have linked working past retirement age with a reduced risk of dementia and heart attack. You may be wondering why I am sharing this info with people who are 40 years too young for it to have any practical application. The reason is that it seems to me that fear of work is on the rise.
T'shuvah is work! It’s the kind of work that generates fulfillment, and gives you guaranteed success (since t'shuvah “works” even if you fail in the future, as long as you are being real when you endeavor to change, you broke down a fence. There is no guarantee that you won’t rebuild it, but there is a guarantee that you became closer to Hashem by at least trying to tear it down.
THE BEST NEWS
The holiness of the day is often felt at its very first moment, when you go to shul for Kol Nidrei. Annulling vows is important, but you may be wondering why it feels so deep, so awesome. The reason is, the Kabbalistic work Matok MiDvash says, is that this brings about a parallel annulment so to speak of Hashem’s vows, In the second paragraph of SHEMA you read about Hashem’s covenant. He will draw us close with peace, prosperity, and a lifestyle that resonates with your sense of How Things Should Be.
You will get to a place that says that Hashem will never give up. He will push you to the wall again and again until you can bring yourself back to Him to His Torah.
THE BEST NEWS OF ALL!
Hashem is on your team, willing and ready to make your journey less difficult, more challenging, more invigorating, more peaceful all at the same time.
Love and gmar chatima tovah,