Several times during the year, the Jewish calendar places joyous and challenging holidays near each other. What lessons we take from this juxtaposition?
In the game “Truth-or-Dare,” I choose “truth” nearly every time. I’m not much of a dare-taker. Thus, if you and I were playing “Special Edition Truth-or-Dare: High Holy Days,” I would confess that the prayer Avinu Malkeinu provides me with both my second-favorite liturgical moment and my second-greatest pet peeve of the year’s liturgy. (Note: Even though I may have to repent for it, I will leave you in suspense about my favorite liturgical moment and my greatest liturgical pet peeve. Also, “Special Edition Truth-or-Dare: High Holy Days” is fictional, although I hereby declare copyright in the event Mattel or Hasbro comes knocking at my door.)
There are many elements which make the High Holy Days a unique experience. Often, congregations swell to double or triple their usual size, the musical settings of even common liturgy are different, and some might alter their dress by wearing either traditionally all-white garments or more formal wear than they would sport on Shabbat. Some congregations even have unique garments to dress their Torah scrolls in white.
There are people with hearts of stone; there are stones with human hearts.
-The Wall, by Yossi Gamzu
Guila remembers holding the prayer book for her father, who had cerebral palsy, every Yom Kippur. "What many might imagine to have been a dreary religious obligation was, for me, a highly emotional, touching experience."
Although we may not think of Judaism as a religion of confession, we often are called to profess our sins – privately, between oneself and God.
As a young girl, I was very compliant. If I was told to do something, I generally did it; if I was told not to do something, I usually didn’t. Of course, there were exceptions – ah, the motorcycle ride – but I think of myself as a rule follower.