When I was a small child living in England my parents took me on a trip with my brothers to the beach. It was a cold day as we walked to the train station to catch a train to the coast, but nonetheless, we were very excited! Until we arrived that is. You see the beach that we went to wasn’t exactly a sandy beach with beautiful palm trees and turquoise waters. It was actually a drab, cheerless beach made up of big rocks and cold, thick sludge.
I was young and a positive child so I eventually said to myself “O.K. This is what it is. I’ll make the most of it” and I waded off through the sludge in the direction of the sea. Unfortunately for me it wasn’t long before I got completely stuck in the sludge. I tried to pull my feet out but I couldn’t. I just sunk down a little further. I tried some more to pull my feet out, and my right foot did come out… but not with the shoe that it had been wearing, which remained firmly embedded in the sludge. Oy! I tried not to put that foot down so it wouldn’t get dirtied by the sludge… I stood there balancing on one foot like a wobbly flamingo for some time, until I lost my balance completely and fell face down into the sludge.
I sat there on the train going back covered from head to toe with sludge with just two little eyes blinking out at the world. I was a sludge monster! It hadn’t been a great day for me. In fact I felt really, really miserable!
As soon as we got home I ran to the bathroom and one of my parents ran me a hot soapy bath. I got in and all I can say is that it was probably the best bath of my life.
This is how I relate to Yom Kippur.
We arrive at the day, our neshama (soul) comes with whatever stains and gunk it has picked up throughout the year from the wrong choices that we have made, and then we get into the bath…
Now I have not come with this blog post to talk about what we need to do to get into the bath and get cleaned off on Yom Kippur (A.K.A. how to do the mitzvah of the day called Teshuva which involves verbally admitting our mistakes to our Creator, regretting them because they are keeping us from being our best self and then committing to a better path). If you’re interested I have left a link below to a 20 second infographic which has the steps… I have written this post as I think that sometimes 2 things can get overlooked as the big day of Yom Kippur approaches and so I want to mention them in the event that they will be of any interest…
Here they are…
1 – Fixing up stuff between man and man:
The process of ‘getting into the bath and getting clean’ on Yom Kippur (verbally admitting our mistakes, regretting them, committing to a better path…) helps us for mistakes that we have made between ‘man and G-d’. For stuff between ‘man and man’, like embarrassing someone, causing someone pain, damaging someone or their property or causing them financial loss in some way, we also need to get ‘their’ forgiveness (and pay them back if we owe them anything). Now is the time, in these days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, to go to people we have wronged and say “Yom Kippur’s coming up and I really want to say how sorry I am about …” so that when we get into the bath of Yom Kippur, the sludge stains caused by mistakes we made towards others (which Yom Kippur doesn’t help us for) will have already been removed.
Here are a few good questions we can ask ourselves: Is there anyone that I have caused pain to, embarrassed, damaged in some way or caused financial loss to? Who? When is the soonest possible time before Yom Kippur that I can sincerely try and fix things up with them?
2 – A supercharged opportunity for prayer:
The second thing that I think can get overlooked is that this time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is an eys ratzon. What’s that? It means that it is an extra special time for prayer. Our prayers are incredibly, incredibly supercharged during the 7 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and certain things that could cause impediments to our prayer’s effectiveness the rest of the year are overridden. It would be at the very least a tremendous shame to waste such an opportunity. Now is a great time to think through all the things we need help with, including our personal growth and our inner yearnings and to pray for them.
Here are a few good questions that we can ask ourself to help us focus on what we need: What do I lack that I need to have a successful year of real, sweet growth? What do I truly yearn for? — It might be good to write these things down and make a time, even 2 minutes a day, when you can pray for them during the rest of the days leading up to Yom Kippur.
I hope this post was of interest. I pray that you and your family are inscribed and sealed in the book of life for a sweet year ahead!
Here’s the link I mentioned above for how to get clean on Yom Kippur – It’s a 20 second infographic – http://www.aish.com/h/hh/yom-kippur/guide/Yom-Kippur-We-Can-Change.html?s=show
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