Thursday, October 9, 2008


Today is Yom Kippur, the most somber, most holy day in the Jewish religion. It is the Day of Atonement, when, for 24 hours, Jews seek forgiveness for their sins of the past year, and as the holiday closes at sundown tonight, make their final plea to be inscribed in the Book of Life. To make sure that there are no distractions from this solemn task, and maybe as a bit of punishment because none of us are without sin, Jews fast from sundown of the evening before, to sundown today.

I am thankful for religious guidance that instructs me to be a good person every day; most religions do. But I am especially thankful for the opportunity, once a year, to contemplate what kind of person I have been, and what kind of person I want to be. And absolution does not come at a distance; prayers can only do so much. Ultimately, if the sin is against a person, as opposed to the environment for instance, one must seek forgiveness directly from that person. It is a simple dynamic, but oh, so difficult. Think about it. First one must admit wrongdoing; and then one must seek out the victim of that wrong and ask to be pardoned. Again, I am awed by the simplicity, yet difficulty of this task. But for me, it is the simple human communications that seem the most challenging, but most important in my life.

Before now, I gave fleeting thought to the Book of Life. I took for granted my excellent health, good fortune, and believed that the other wonderful trappings of my life were there because I worked hard for them. But that has all changed. All over the world, the words "who shall live and who shall die?" are an integral part of Yom Kippur services. I now tremble at this momentous determination; no matter how this judgment is made, or who makes it, at this time next year I wonder if will I be joining my fellow Jews in seeking atonement for the sins of another year past? Seeking to again be inscribed in that Book of Life?

My road to recovery from surgery has hit some bumps and I am struggling with a fever, and finding pain meds that work well enough without debilitating side effects. The services at my synagogue stream online, so I am off to pray remotely. Gotta love technology.

No matter what your religious beliefs, wishing that all of you are inscribed in the Book of Life, and that you each find peace within your families, friends and communities.


patti said...

And peace to you, Elyse.

I love you.


Chris Cleary said...

24 hours wouldn't be enough time for me to atone for my yearly sins. I couldn't be Jewish.

Betsy said...

Rejoice in your spirituality! So many do not benefit from that connection. I wish you peace and grace on your holy day. Keep the faith. God is with you all will go well.

Burton said...

Well Elyse, you were not the only one pleading for your inscription in the book of life today. I assure you that you are on Mishaberach lists near and far -- even in Baytown! Looking forward a bit to Passover, I say, Next Year in -- wherever you want to be! XXXOOOBGM

Martin said...

You were on the Mishaberach list at Bet Haverim,too-much to my surprise and concern. And I ran into Eric and was able to learn a little about what you've been going through. Please know that now that I know, you are in my thoughts and prayers. We always wish the ones we care about "a healthy and happy New Year" I especially wish good health for you...soon.
"long-time love"

Lenore and Scott said...

As Rabbi Mossman would ask, "Do you know what is the most important day in the Jewish calendar?" Of course, most people would answer Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, or Shabbat. Rabbi Mossman's reply was "the day after Yom Kippur." I miss him :(