Thursday, October 13, 2005

Today is Yom Kippur

Read up.

Though I still prefer confession.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are very different experiences. Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgment. G-d is judging me and judgment can make me feel distant from the Judge. In fact, the Hebrew word for a judicial "decree" is gezer, from the verb form, li'gzor, meaning "to cut." That is what judgment can do. It can make me feel cut off from the Judge.

In addition to being the Day of Judgment, Rosh Hashanah is a day to acknowledge the truth of monotheism. It's the day on which I recognize that G-d is the one and only King, and I am not the King. There is an infinite gap that separates the King and myself. Next to the Infinite, I am infinitesimal. This past year I did wrong and disobeyed the King's will, because I mistakenly thought that I knew better than G-d, and what I wanted to do would bring me more success and pleasure than what G-d asked of me. But now, on Rosh Hashanah, I realize how foolish I was to think this way. I realize that my true fulfillment can only come from obeying G-d — the one and only King Who created me and this world. I realize how foolish I was to reject His guidance and rebel against His directions. And finally, on Rosh Hashanah, I recognize that G-d's judgment comes from His love for me, and when I accept it, it is transformed into compassion.

Yom Kippur, however, is another story. Yom Kippur is a Day of Atonement, which is defined by love and forgiveness. On Yom Kippur, we get a glimpse of ourselves, our choices and our relationship to G-d from another perspective — G-d's perspective — and come to recognize how inseparably close we are to G-d. This is the transformational power of Yom Kippur.

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