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 the last two years, 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 fervour although thank G-d the corona pandemic seems to be weakening.
We are now back to pre-corona days (although masks are recommended for vulnerable people) attending 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. 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.
Here is a very powerful video (via DavidinPT), so fitting for Yom Kippur, based on one of the central prayers of the day, Unetaneh Tokef:
In the month of Elul preceding Rosh Hashanah, Sephardim hold special penitential prayers, Slichot, every night or early in the morning. The Ashkenazim join in the week before Rosh Hashanah. The prayers reach their emotional peak on the night before Yom Kippur. This was the scene last night at the Kotel:
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 link from a few years ago showing the empty roads throughout Israel:
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.
גמר חתימה טובה