Today marks the tenth day of the seventh month. I don’t know what that means because it’s the twenty-eighth day of the ninth month on my calendar. But for my Jewish friends, it is the highest of holy days, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Even though it’s right there in Leviticus, Christians don’t really go in for that sort of thing. Muslims have Ashura, and Hindus practice prayaschitta, or penance. Even AA wants people to give amends to those they have wronged.
But, as in many things, the Jews don’t play. On this day, you don’t eat; you don’t work; you just atone for your sins. That’s it.
And I think that’s a great idea. I mean, come on, we can give up one day out of an entire year to make reparations for our sins or atone for those we have wronged.
But here’s the thing. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure one day is enough for me. Especially since I’m a little behind the curve on this.
I have to atone for 65 years worth of sins. I’m going to have to break this up a bit. It will probably take me a few years to catch up. I have wronged many people in my time on this planet and probably still to this day. And sins? It doesn’t really matter whose God you follow, they all have their list of things you shouldn’t do, and I’m pretty sure I’ve done almost all of them.
And that’s why Yom Kippur is the way to go. It’s every year. You know it’s coming. I could lie about being envious, but that’s two strikes I’m going to have to wipe clean. I imagine for young Jewish children, the threat of an impending Yom Kippur is akin to when we got threatened with Santa Clause for two or three months. Maybe if I had atoned, I would have gotten that pony.
I’ve said much of this in jest, but my meaning is heartfelt. I’ve known many devout people in their faith, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Hindu. (Don’t think I’ve met a Buddhist, yet). And they all share one thing in common; a feeling of inner peace and serenity that escapes most of the rest of us.
Maybe if we atoned now and then.
On Mondays, a group of us play Hearts in our neighborhood. One couple will be absent as this is their highest of holy days. They will be missed. I have known them for almost four years now, and I’m continually amazed at their kindness and generosity. Of the 88 other households in this community, they are the ones I have grown closest to, despite religious and political differences. He is the man I wish I could be.
I can’t imagine them having enough things to atone for that it would take an hour, much less a whole day. But, except for walking their dog, I know I won’t see them today. This makes me sad but also proud. Proud to know such a noble couple. Noble. I think that is the first time I have ever used that word in a sentence. Not the ‘of nobility’ meaning, although they may be for all I know. I mean the ‘ showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals,’ one. The one that should have their picture beside it in the dictionary.
In honor of my friends, I vow to take at least part of my day and spend it on reflection. Reflecting on all of the wrongs I have done in the past. It’s a scary proposition. I don’t know how far down that dark and lonely road I will get today. But I can make a start.
To all my Jewish friends and strangers out there, G’mar chatima tova.
To everyone else, I apologize for any wrongs I have shown you and hope you can forgive me.
But fasting? I don’t think I can do that one. Sorry.