Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is upon us once again. It begins in a few hours time here in Israel, when we will be entering a 25-hour fast to pray for forgiveness for any wrongs we have committed towards G-d. It is a day when we must ask forgiveness from our fellow man if we have wronged them, forgive those who have wronged us if they ask to be forgiven, and pray that Hashem will seal us in the Book of Life. This year, as with last year, that prayer, along with the line in the Avinu Malkenu prayer: אבינו מלכנו, מנע מגפה מנחלתך- Our father, our King, prevent a plague among Your inheritance, will be recited with extra favour.
We are almost back to pre-corona days, when we would attend services with day-long prayers, composed of beautiful, spiritual and emotional prayers and songs, being held in shuls and community centres throughout the Jewish world. This year attendance in shul is contingent upon having a Green Pass showing either vaccination or recovery from covid, or a negative PCR test. In addition, despite the heat (although it is slightly cooler than it has been in previous weeks) some windows and doors will be left open despite the air-conditioning to ensure fresh air flow.It has been recommended – though not required – to curtail the prayers because it is difficult to sit inside all day wearing a mask.
We should count ourselves lucky because in many countries shuls have been closed altogether.
In Israel, traffic comes to a complete halt throughout the country, even in the most secular towns, and a serene and holy calmness pervades throughout the land. Even the international airport and public transport close down for the day, starting from a few hours before the fast until an hour or so after the fast ends.
Here is a thought-provoking video from the late and very lamented Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z”l about finding your purpose on Yom Kippur:
In the spirit of the day, I would like to ask forgiveness from anyone whom I might have offended or hurt.
To those who are fasting I wish an easy and meaningful fast.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish my family, friends and readers Gmar Hatima Tova – May we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a year of good health and blessings, and may Hashem bring an end to this plague.
גמר חתימה טובה