Sounds oxymoronic to those who know the holiday, doesn’t it? But – having just gotten off the phone with my mother-in-law – I feel obligated to tell the world that Yom Kippur is not a sad time. It’s not a rip-roaring celebration, exactly, but its pureness of heart is sometimes mistaken for the austerity of penitence. It ain’t that – at least not as I see it.
Yom Kippur is more of a cleansing – and it’s only as dark as your experience of that cleansing. Like a bit of analysis or an acid trip, Yom Kippur is a way of standing naked before the universe or, if you prefer the metaphor, God. Unless you really want to hang onto those false illusions, or unless you really need to believe that all the awful stuff you did to people wasn’t so very awful, you’ll probably experience it more as a relief than a punishment.
People aren’t to fast because it feels bad not to eat. It’s to be in a state of ritual purity – focused and clear. Again, think of it more like how you’d prepare to visit a shaman in the Andes to get “cleansed.”
So yeah, you might want to take a day to be really honest with yourself about the part you’re playing in this reality – to stand before your maker, so to speak – and look deep into those places you may not look at very much. It can be painful to look at one’s impact on others, since the balance sheet is so rarely in our favor. But there’s no need to go into this thing or frame it in gloom.
It’s really an opportunity to start over. To present ourselves to the universe in as pure a state as when we came in, and start again with a clean slate. The opportunity to do that, is a happy day, indeed.