Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Yom Kippur - A Question of Faith

"The overarching theme of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is 'change:' to change from what we were before and to become new individuals. The motif behind it all is accountability. We are responsible for our actions. We do not live in a vacuum. What we do or say has an impact and a resonance in the world." Rabbi Emanuel Feldman

The Jewish Holy Days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur give us an opportunity to clarify for ourselves our most critical priorities. Not just spiritually, but in our everyday lives. Our goals and values. How to achieve them. And how to make a meaningful contribution to others and to our world.

This is a time for significant inner initiatives. And it's an opportunity for us to recreate ourselves, to strengthen our ties to our faith and to each other in the year to come.

It's not easy. But it's so important. Take a look around at the world today. If each of us simply took responsibility to make our own part of it a little better, it would be a start.

Tonight begins the most solemn and holy day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur -- the Day of Atonement -- 25 hours of prayer, reflection, repentance and, one hopes, forgiveness.

Many people find it helpful to ask themselves some basic questions in order to affirm--and remember--what is truly important and who we ultimately want to be. Below are some questions to ask yourself, any time of the year.

There's value here for everyone who wants to be a better human being. And it's not always necessary to know the answers -- what's important is to ask the questions. Thursday I'll be asking myself these and other questions. And seeking my own brand of spiritual inner guidance.

When do I most feel that my life is meaningful?

How often do I express my feelings to those who mean the most to me?

Are there any ideals I would be willing to die for?

If I could live my life over, would I change anything?

What would bring me more happiness than anything else in the world?

What are my three most significant achievements in the past year?

What are the three biggest mistakes I've made in the past year?

What project or goal, if left undone, will I most regret next year?

What are my three major goals in life?

What am I doing to achieve them?

What is the most important decision I need to make this year?

What did I do last year that gave me the strongest feeling of self-respect?

What are the most important relationships in my life?

What can I do to nurture those relationships this year?

If I could change only one thing about myself, what would that be?

If I could change one thing about my spiritual life, what would it be?

And finally...

If I could give my children only three pieces of advice, what would they be?

This one I'll answer here. Because I believe if we all followed this advice, the world would be a better place.

1. Respect yourself, and others.
2. Be generous and kind.
3. Always be guided by your most honest instincts.

See you Friday.



Blogger lfa tai chi blog said...

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3:31 PM  
Blogger David Goldenberg said...

Your blog post has more meaning than all the Kol Nidre services I have ever sat through. Thank you for taking the time to delineate these wonderful ideas.

I would like to add that to forgive is divine, and cleansing; being judgmental serves no purpose; fear is wasteful and unnecessary.

As for the children--you said it all.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall being told as a child that Yom Kippur prohibited how many steps could be walked during the holiday. Has this tradition been forgotten, or was it never a practice?


2:35 PM  
Blogger Sally Swift said...

Sarah, that's one I've never heard before. I've done my fair share of reading up on the Holidays and what they mean, but this is new to me. Which is not to say it's wrong. I'm certainly no expert. Maybe can help.

3:19 PM  

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