Yom Kippur: it is time to give up the coffee and fast
I enjoy my morning coffee as much as the next person. I look forward to it before I even go to bed the night before. The warmth, taste and the little moment it affords me before shifting into gear for the day is a welcome pause at the beginning of each day.
On the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, Oct. 3-4 this year, it’s our custom to fast for the day’s entirety. That is from sundown on Friday, Oct. 3, until sundown on Saturday the fourth.
While I miss that cup of coffee in the morning, and by about two in the afternoon the caffeine headache has fully set in, there’s something sacred about this self-denial. While fasting, to many, may seem antiquated as a spiritual practice, it forces the mind, body and soul to experience life, even for a day, a bit differently.
By fasting, we are forced to embrace the challenging prayers and themes of the day without the benefit of a full stomach and that Java. As the day begins, the Jewish tradition invites us to fully embrace our human frailty in the coming year.
The prominent prayer for the eve of Yom Kippur is called Kol Nidre. Its words force us to recognize that despite our best efforts in the coming year, we will not achieve all our goals. It creates a moment of realizing the human condition of being imperfect. From there, the prayers, community study and themes weave a message that while we are imperfect, while we may not achieve all we set out to accomplish; and while there’s no contract for tomorrow, there’s much we can control. We have the ability to conduct ourselves with integrity and character. It’s within our grasp to create dialogue that is honest, fair and compassionate.
As human beings, our behaviors, demeanor and tone go a long way in reflecting our inner being. On Yom Kippur, when we seek forgiveness and grant it in return, when we deny ourselves the nourishment of food, we are forced to contemplate and reflect without that cup of Joe. It moves us to overcome our material needs for just one day and recognize both how weak we become and how challenging it can be and that we can prevail. This is the power of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement; this is the power of fasting to achieve a better self.
As Temple Bat Yam marks this solemn and festive time of year, we invite anyone to join our observance of Yom Kippur.
You can access our calendar of events and services at http://www.tbytahoe.org or by calling 530-542-1211.