fastingToday, I am fasting.   Why, you ask?  It is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement on which it is traditional for observant Jews to fast all day.  Am I a Jew, observant or otherwise?  No, I consider myself spiritual but not religious but Judaism is as close as I’ve come to a religious landing place since I left my childhood religion at 18.  That is a result of raising my children Jewish, taking several classes on Judaism and attending services for about 20 years.  During those years we belonged to Temple Beth Sholom in Santa Ana and I became fond of the notion of a Day of Atonement during which you took stock of the previous year, atoned for you mistakes and started anew.  The Yom Kippur liturgy leads us through an inventory of the year, along with an ample helping pf praising God, thanking God and asking God for forgiveness.  My wife and I no longer belong to a temple or attend service, but for years we’ve gone to a park on Yom Kippur with prayer books in hand and read the liturgy aloud.   And fasted.

For most of those years, I have also participated in Al-Anon, a spiritual but not religious 12-step program for families and friends of alcoholics and the Steps have been a foundation of my day-to-day living.   The Fourth Step prescribes a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves to identify our defects of character and in Step 5, admitting the exact nature of our wrongs to God.   In Step 8, we make a list of persons we had harmed and in Step 9 we make amends.  To me the notion of making amends and atonement are similar.   It is more than an apology, it entails making up for any harm done if possible and committing yourself to not doing it again.   On Yom Kippur, fasting and taking a personal inventory in a beautiful place says to me this is not just any other day.  According to My Jewish Learning, repentance involves a critical self-assessment of the past year and the resolve to avoid lapses in sensitivity in the future. That requires discipline. Our fasting on Yom Kippur demonstrates our willingness to submit to discipline.   And at the end of the day, we get to break the fast, celebrating a fresh start of another year.  Everyone needs a little discipline and fresh start now and then, don’t you think?

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One Comment on “Fasting”

  1. barrythewiz Says:

    Beautifully written. L’shana Tova!

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