Thursday, October 23, 2008

Intense Versus Sad

Now that the Jewish Holidays are over, hopefully life can return to normal. I enjoy the Holidays but it is a bit much. I do have some reflections on the different holidays that I will be posting over the next few days (or weeks). Today I will start with Yom Kippur.

It is amazing to me how many people misunderstand the significance of this day. I was planning a lesson for Hebrew School and was looking at some YouTube videos. I look at the discussion that surrounded one of the videos about Yom Kippur. The comments were indicating that this was the saddest day on the Jewish Calendar.

Yom Kippur is intense, it is serious and it is important, but it is not a sad day. Judaism does have such a day, that day being Tisha B’Av. Yom Kippur, however, actually has a positive tone. The idea of Yom Kippur is purification, asking G-d for forgiveness so we can start the year with a clean slate. It is like the student who begins fresh at a new school. Instead of having the baggage follow you, you begin anew. That, certainly, is not a sad day.

It is true we deprive ourselves on this day in a number of ways. We are even told to afflict our souls. Still, a shehechayanu is made on this day (and it is only made on joyous occasions. We are told that we will be forgiven. So, I certainly disagree with the idea that Yom Kippur is the saddest day of the Jewish year, or even just a sad day.

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