As fulfilling as it was to engage in Shavuot programs, a lot weighs on me. With COVID-19 continuing to ravage Black communities and racist violence all over the news, I almost feel like it’s Yom Kippur instead – the time when Jews are supposed to be most aware of their own mortality.
This week, I tell a friend I’d love to chat but actually I have to run Yom Kippur services are starting soon and I’ve got to repent for my sins before the gates are closed. She laughs. “Well, you’re gay, so you’ve definitely got a lot of repenting to do.”
As we turn to the start of a new Jewish year, perhaps we can be inspired by the all-too-familiar customer satisfaction survey to evaluate our spiritual lives.
As the High Holidays approach, once again I am reading S.Y. Agnon’s Days of Awe. As much as the book means to me, though, the person who gave it to me means more.
In theory, no one wants to be that person who can’t let go, who refuses the request for forgiveness. But is it really possible, or even right, to forgive everything?
Aside from a date, what can these two events possibly have in common? Strange as it may seem, there are a few points of comparison.
The Lord, the Lord is gracious and compassionate, patient, and abounding in kindness and faithfulness, assuring love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, and granting pardon. -Exodus 34:6-7
Turn the Torah scroll.
Turn back to Genesis
for the Rosh Hashana reading.
As the Torah scroll is rolled,
one person is on one side
pulling forward -
back to the beginning.
One person is on the other side
releasing the past.
Shabbat Shuvah is the Sabbath between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. The name is derived from the opening word of the haftarah reading that urges us: Shuvah Yisrael ad Adonai Elohecha, “Return, O Israel, to the Eternal your God.”