Sunday, October 01, 2006

This is from the top article in this morning's Arutz Sheva (newspaper):

Yom Kippur Gradually Descends Upon Israel by Hillel Fendel

Bus & train service, radio & television broadcasts, commerce & office activity and other signs of a modern country will gradually close down today, marking the onset of the solemn day of Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur - Hebrew for "Day of Atonement" - is a day of fasting, prayer and introspection. The country will essentially be closed down from sundown Sunday until the same time on Monday, with no public transportation, public electronic broadcasts, stores or services.

Can you imagine the whole country shutting down? A poll showed that 80% of Israelis fast on Yom Kippur - that's way higher than the religious population. I went up to the mikolet this morning to get some things, but thought better of it when I saw the lines. But outside at various tables were people collecting tzedakah for their organizations from people who did Kaporah before the holiday. That's where you wave some currency over your head (if you're too creeped out by waving a chicken, like we are) and ask that your sins be expiated by giving the money to tzedakah. Everyone's scurrying around, buying supplies for their sukkahs and otherwise preparing for tonight and the next week.

Last night we turned the clocks forward; it's always done in Israel the motzei Shabbos between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. David will go to daven mincha at 2, and then we'll eat our seuda when he gets back. The good news is that the fast is over by 6 PM tomorrow; the bad news is that Kol Nidrei begins at 4:15 this afternoon. I'm looking forward to davening in the shul we were at for Rosh Hashanah. I can just imagine how beautiful the singing will be, and how the prayers will become more fervent at the day goes by tomorrow. I'm in the last row (in the main tent; some women are in an adjacent tent) by the mechitza, so I'll have a lot of privacy when it get emotional. This past year we had so many changes take place in our lives. The last few months have been an introspective time for me; wondering what is going on with Israel, with the Jewish people, with my own personal teshuva, with the suffering and challenges of my friends and family members.

Over Shabbos I finished a book by Elie Wiesel, a book about suffering. By the last page I was in tears, and then I thought of all those closest to me, and some I don't even know so well, and I thought about all the illness and emotional and spiritual challenges Hashem has given them and it really hurt. I want to scoop everyone up and say, "Come here! Come see the beauty here! Come feel Hashem every step you take, everywhere you look!" And I know it just isn't going to happen. But I truly believe that Hashem has a Plan for every single person, and whatever they're going through, it's the right path for them. Who am I to say that the challenges He's given them won't make them into the kind of individuals He wants them to become? But I can still daven for them and pray that He makes things easier for them, that he grants them good health, that he grants them vision and goals and courage and strength.

We had Shabbos meals this week at two totally different homes, and each one was very special. Here, at the Shabbos tables, we talk about ideals and concepts and philosophies. Sure, we talk about the mundane as well, like how to get to somewhere on the bus or the easiest way to get through the bureaucracy of getting a driver's license, but even that is imbued with the knowledge that we're here in The Land, that everything we do is filled with holiness because we're here. I'm sure it's different for people with small children. I know that everyone's experience here isn't like ours, but it's the way it is for David and I. And when we start working again, it may start feeling like the same old, same old. I hope not.

Have a meaningful fast, and may all your dreams for the coming year come true.

No comments: