Tag Archives: yom kippur

Yom Kippur Memory

I bless my kids every Friday night before kiddush. It moves me every single time. Sometimes to the point of tears. It’s my reconnection with the boys after busy weeks of to-ing and fro-ing. No matter who is mad at who, who let who down, who’s grounded or had their phone taken away – Friday night bentsching is sacrosanct in our home.

There is a tradition that Erev Yom Kippur we bless our children too. For some, this is the only time of year they bless their children. For me, on this day, thanks to Rabbi Artscroll, I bless them with the long version of the blessing, found in the Yom Kippur machzor.

When I was 16 my father was very sick here in Monsey. He was at the Good Samaritan hospital for treatment and we had been told he was close to death. We flew in from the UK to be with him. It was this time of year. My parents had been divorced for a long time by then and I had little to no relationship with him.

We went to see him Erev Yom Kippur, and he wanted to bentsch us. My father, in my memory, had NEVER bentsched us, never taken the time to reconnect, and until that moment I had never felt that I missed out.

My brothers went forward one by one, and my father placed his hands on their heads and intoned from memory :

Image from aish.com

Then it was my turn. My father had no idea how to bless a daughter. We scrambled around for a siddur so that he could find the right words. But the damage had been done. I didn’t hear the blessing, I didn’t feel it – truth be told, I didn’t want it. My father, who had not been present for most of my life, just proved to me, in that moment (in my mind) how little he thought of me.

I was 16 and I was hurt. My father died 3 years later, and at the ripe old age of 19 I had just got to the point of wanting to know him and to know who he was. Maybe he felt just as bad at that moment – maybe he just didn’t know how to tell me. I will never know.

I remember my father every time I bensch my kids. At this point, I remember him without the anger and resentment I used to feel, but still with sadness at what might have been.

Don’t Forget These Fasting Tips

Tips to Ensure an Easier Fast. [Originally posted in 2009]

Gmar Chatimah Tovah!

Forgiveness is Freeing

Think about it. When you are angry it takes up a lot of your energy. It colours everything that you do or say. Until that anger is dissipated it eats away at you. Sometimes that anger never goes away.

A few years ago, before Yom Kippur, I called up my ex. We had been separated / divorced for 18 months but time had not healed me that much. I was so fed up of being angry and looking for hidden meanings where there were none, looking for more excuses to hate him. I told him that whatever had been in the past, I forgave him for. I did not want to fight anymore, I did not want to hold on to stress and tension. I didn’t just say the words. I meant them. We had both been hurt, and I asked him for forgiveness too. I spoke from the heart. It was at that moment that I truly started to heal. Letting go of what was done and said, and taking away the power from anger and resentment – I felt as if a ten ton block had been lifted off of me.

It was a short conversation, but one I will always remember. I went into Yom Kippur that year with a lighter heart. Yes I still had much to atone for, after all, none of us are perfect, but I knew that this new single mom arrangement would be ok. I felt lighter and refreshed.

As we head into Yom Kippur tomorrow night, I want you to think about the grudges you still bear. We all have them in some way, shape or form. Perhaps it is time to try to heal the wounds, perhaps it is time to try to work out a way to let the bitterness go.

I forgive those who seek to harm me in any way and have harmed me in the past. I forgive those people whose mission in life, it seems, is to cause upset and hurt in my life and the lives of those I care about. I will pray for them over Yom Kippur that they find it in their hearts to forgive themselves and find the strength to move on with their lives in a positive manner. I ask forgiveness from those whom I have hurt albeit unintentionally.

My wish for you, dear readers, is that you have a meaningful Fast. May we all be sealed in the book of Life.

Gmar Chatimah Tovah.

Yesterday – my troubles didn’t seem so far away!

I spent the weekend in Monsey with my KoD. We had an awesome Shabbat and a very meaningful Yom Kippur together, our first. For the first time since I can remember I made it to shul for shacharit and stayed till 2.15pm! I didn’t have the caffeine headache which was awesome.

Yesterday, I planned to leave first thing. Man tracht und Gott lacht. (Man plans and God laughs). Yep, you guessed it, car wouldn’t start. Again. Nightmare. I needed to get back to my boys AND we had our immigration medicals today and I didn’t want to push them off.

We had a couple of local boys over to build the sukkah so together with the KoD they tinkered and pushed and rolled and tinkered with the car some more. I was fast running out of time – I needed to be in Montreal (I had typed “home” but that would be Monsey). The engine just wouldn’t turn over. The battery was fine. The engine just wouldn’t catch. So frustrating.

So of course you all remember the story with my new Town and Country not being allowed into Canada? Yeah. So I have this amazingly awesome car that I could be driving instead of a 16 year old pain in the neck – but I can’t bring it in to Canada. Time is tick tocking away.

After much discussion we decide that I will see if I can drive my Town and Country to Plattsburgh, leave it there, and have a friend pick me up and drive me the rest of the way, over the border. I sent out a mass email to all my Montreal people and within minutes my phone was ringing with people offering to help in different capacities. It was truly humbling to feel the outpouring of support from my friends. This is what Community is about.

I loaded up the van and off I went. Thankfully I had an uneventful drive. It was great listening to Sirius comedy radio all the way up. I arrived in Plattsburgh and went to the Days Inn, where previously they had allowed us to park overnight in their parking lot when we had the initial issues with the van. Pffffft. The manager was not rude, just ungracious. Pay for a room and you can leave the van here. Go park at the Price Chopper.

I texted the KoD – he told me to try a different hotel / motel. I drove to the Best Western. Parked the car, went in. Two ladies were behind the desk. I turned on the tears as best I could, explained the situation to them, there were some other Canadians there who commiserated with me about the Canadian border laws – and the Best Western said “sure, no problem”.

I sat in the car and waited for my ride to arrive. Within hours I was safe and sound getting squishes from my boychikles. I put them to bed. And started to work on getting us back to Plattsburgh, so we can be in Monsey for Sukkot.

I fell asleep with a major headache and woke up with it still. I hate not knowing what the plan is. One passenger with one suitcase is so much easier to pick up, than five, with suitcases and sleeping bags and stuff. It’s now 7.44 am and I am hoping the be on our way to NY within the next 24 hours. Bus and train is out as there is no way I can manage all of us and our stuff. I tried renting a car – either they don’t do one way rental, OR their drop off point is 20 miles away from where I need to be and they don’t have pick up service. OR they have no cars available.

Right now it is too early to call private car services – I really don’t want to have to pay a lot of money, but it looks like that is our only option at this point in time. I just want to get to our car safe and sound, and get the boys to Monsey in one piece. And perhaps not go broke (or insane) in the process.

And last night, as I am sitting in the car in Plattsburgh the KoD called me. He figured he would try the van one more time. (We were waiting for mechanic to call back). Yep, darn thing started. I should have been happy to hear this news but it just made me cry that much harder. Why could it not have started in time for me not to have to go crazy in order to get back?? I know God has His master plan, but please…..clue me in sometime?

Anyhow, laundry awaits, we have to prepare for our medicals and pack up. We will get to NY, its just a question of how. I have faith.

Silver lining, silver lining, silver lining, silver lining……

ETA (10 am) I have managed to sort out a ride for us. Mr CarMan once again steps up to the plate and he doesn’t even want me to cover his gas money. The world has some special people in it!!

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Some thoughts on Yom Kippur

The Kosher Academic reposted her post on Yom Kippur, and I commented there but I wanted to expand on her thoughts and mine.

I do not fast well at all. There have been fasts that by 3 in the afternoon I am vomiting and dry heaving. My head is pounding from lack of fluids, I am weak and dizzy. One year I even had a dream (hallucination?) that I was wrestling with the devil, but won in the end. That was one of the most vivid dreams I have ever had, and it remains with me to this day. I do not fast the smaller fasts, reserving my energy and strength for Tisha B’Av and Yom Kippur.

KA questions the idea that “it’s better to fast and spend all day in bed than to not fast and be able to concentrate and pray and really repent.” I have the same question. During my previous marriage my husband was told by the rabbi that it was more important that he stayed home and looked after the kids, than was in shul davenning, if I was unable to adequately care for them (the kids) and had to stay in bed. My fast, his fast and the rabbi’s fast were just as important even though we spent them differently. The emphasis seems to be on the fasting aspect being much more important than the atonement and repentance aspect. Can someone explain that to me? How can we introspect when we cannot focus?

On Yom Kippur there are 5 major prohibitions, and the idea is that doing without these 5 things makes us more able to be spiritual. No leather shoes, no food or drink, no sex, no ablutions and no applying of lotions. We are supposed to suspend our need for anything physical so we can attain a high level of spirituality and oneness with our God. When I am busy dry heaving I do address God – but I am not sure this is what He meant when He told us in the Torah to fast. We are supposed to be like angels on this day – which is why we suspend those 5 actions – that’s not what I feel like.

As I mentioned the other day, there are people who are well able to transcend the physical, the chazzan who can still be standing by Neilah and puts his heart and soul into his service, those who fast well. Honestly, unless you are a good faster, I do not understand how putting your body through suffering brings closeness to God. There have been some years when I have barely opened a machzor during the day of Yom Kippur. The holiest day of the year and I barely prayed. I laid in bed in abject misery calling to God to just end my suffering in one way or another. I feel much closer to God on Rosh Hashannah in shul than on Yom Kippur. Is it just me, or do others feel this way too?

KA posits that

“[the reason] I think [is that] it’s a communal activity on Y”K. That we are fasting and praying as a community. The Teshuva – repentance – is done on a communal level. That doesn’t mean that there is no point to individual teshuva or fasting, but that the few people who need to stay in bed and aren’t really able to participate in prayers – or all those parents who spend the day exhaustingly taking care of the kids, entertaining them, feeding them, etc., but are still fasting, are still participating in the communal act of teshuva. This idea, in my mind, would be that G-d knows that their intent is to participate as fully as they are able, but their ability is limited by their individual circumstance.”

Is she right? Totally sounds as if she is to me. As we know, there is strength in numbers. A person can daven on his own, but gets more schar for davenning in a minyan. If all the Jewish people are fasting, then as a nation as a whole we are spiritually uplifted. Most Jews will fast on this day. From the ultra religious to the most secular. This is a day that is observed as a fast by the majority of Jews. And many of them won’t be in a shul praying for most of the fast.

I know I am kind of rambling here – I really want to understand the deeper meaning to “and you shall afflict yourselves” and I want to have a more meaningful fast. One of the traditional greetings before Yom Kippur is “have an easy fast” – shouldn’t we be wishing people a “meaningful fast”?

Let me know how you see Yom Kippur and if you have any insights that can help us poor fasters understand better why we need to do this.

(For tips on how to have an easier fast click here)

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Be Quiet, for God’s Sake!

I don’t know about you but I like the whole davening in shul thing. I like the liturgy, a touch of chazanut, a shtickle Carlebach niggun, a good speech from the rabbi, and I am uplifted. Add in a decent kiddush after services, and I am good to go. I usually only get to shul Shabbat morning, so I really cherish my shul time.

Every shul is different with what level of background noise it will tolerate. I have heard of men being bodily ejected from shul because they were flapping their gums too much. Some shuls insist on silence only during Torah reading and the rabbi’s speech, other shuls there is a constant hum of conversation.

I can socialize after shul. Catch up on the latest gossip or shoe sales or sports stats or what-have-you. To me, that’s what a Kiddush is for. Why do people find it necessary to talk during shul? That is your time to pray to God.

“Sorry, God. Hold on a minute, God, Jay has to tell me what happened on the ninth hole erev Shabbat, I wouldn’t disrupt this one way conversation unless it was important”.

Seriously, have we become so jaded that talking in shul is normal? Look, I am not perfect, and have been known to talk in shul, but I really do try not to. There are some people, though, that spend the entire davening deep in conversation with their neighbour, barely pausing to daven the swiftest Amidah ever before they resume their discussion on the healthcare system, how they think Tiger Woods scored that hole in one, or that cute blonde that just walked in, or the rebbetzin who is looking a little heavy around the middle again, and her baby is only 11 months old!!

People! You are standing in a house of worship! You have come there to daven, to pray to God, to thank him for your abundant blessings and ask him to cure your aunt Millie and put more money in your bank account. Yet, in the middle of all that praising and supplication you press PAUSE so you can chit chat? Who do you think you are? No one tells God to wait. No one, not even Moses, can get away with that.

What if, in the middle of you talking to your neighbour, God decides He wants to talk to you? You won’t pick up on that because you have closed your spiritual pathways to talk to your friend. Hey, maybe God wants to tell you what lottery numbers to play this week but you are too busy talking about the Yankees that you won’t get the message. He wanted to answer your prayers but you let Him go to voice mail.

How hard is it to stop talking in shul, except to God? In a courtroom no one dares to speak. No one, or they are in contempt which means a fine. Or prison time. Or both. And the Judge is a human being, yet no one would dare make a cellphone call in the midst of a legal argument. The idea of talking in shul should be just as terrifying if not more.

We are standing there in front of God, and communally we are showing Him major disrespect. I would like to be able to daven in peace in shul, not be disturbed by inane chatter, whispering and giggling. Not have to hear the Gabbai pound on the Bima and say “we shall only continue when there is silence” – there should be silence as a matter of course.

We are coming up on Rosh Hashannah, and of course everyone will be silent in shul, as they will on Yom Kippur. We are being judged, of course we are going to be quiet. Come on, what a crock! God knows that we talked in shul last week and missed all the leining. God knows that we are going to talk next week in shul and the week after, and that we have no intention of shutting up in shul. Except the Day of Judgment. Because, you know, maybe we can pull the wool over His eyes. Give me a break. Stop talking now and stick to it, and concentrate on your prayers. Maybe, just maybe, you will reconnect with your inner spirituality. It won’t bring you the Maserati you have been dreaming of, but maybe you will sleep better at night.

I know that I am making a commitment to be quiet in shul from now on. I want to connect with God. I don’t want to just say words, I want to mean them and reflect on them. Don’t you be the one in shul to ruin my kavannah. God has a lot more up His proverbial sleeve that I have.

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Tips to Ensure an Easier Fast

Tips to Ensure an Easier Fast (from the OU website)

By Ira Milner RD

While some people fast with little difficulty, most of us expect to feel more or less bedraggled after only a few hours. If fasting means headaches and assorted misery for you, it might be the fault of what you eat or drink beforehand. A few simple precautions in planning your pretaanit menu could make all the difference.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Water has been called “the indispensable nutrient” for a very good reason. Although a person can live without food for weeks, a few days without water would be fatal. Water makes up approximately 60 percent of the body’s weight and is involved in practically every bodily function. Among its essential tasks, it transports nutrients and oxygen through the blood; maintains body temperature; lubricates the joints; cushions a developing fetus and serves as a medium for the thousands of crucial chemical reactions taking place in the body.

Much of the discomfort commonly experienced during a fast may be due to avoidable water loss. Treat yourself to a leisurely glass of a non-caffeinated beverage several times a day well before a planned fast. Providing the body with enough fluids to function properly is a daily business. Your recommended intake is six to eight 8-ounce glasses (or their equivalent) per day, but that should be upped to eight to ten glasses the day before a fast. (Because the elderly tend to have less developed thirst sensations than younger people, they should be especially careful about getting their daily quota of water.) Don’t worry about drinking too much, since the body is highly efficient at getting rid of what it doesn’t need.

Beverages are not the only source of water. Even foods you might consider dry contain some water. Most fruits, for instance, are more than 80 percent water; bread, around 35 percent. Eggs consist of 75 percent water; meats, between 40 and 75 percent; vegetables, from 70 to 95 percent. Although coffee and tea also supply water, the diuretic properties of caffeine make these beverages inadvisable at a pre-fast meal. Diuretics produce water loss at the cell level and therefore ultimately increase the body’s need for water.

Decrease Protein

Most Americans consume far too much protein, averaging 2-3 times more than needed. A growing body of evidence suggests that high animal protein intake can be a contributing factor in heart disease, certain cancers and may pose a problem for those suffering from kidney disease.

Eating excessive amounts of protein may also be counterproductive before a fast. Since protein attracts water, too much of it may actually leach water from the tissues. In extreme cases, dehydration could result because the unneeded protein pulls out water that will later be necessary to remove the waste products of protein synthesis from the body.

Increase Starch and Fiber

Sugars (including honey and corn syrup) are simple carbohydrates. Starch and most dietary fibers are considered complex carbohydrates because they are chemical chains of many sugar molecules. During digestion both starch and sugar break down into glucose — the simplest form of sugar.  Consumption of complex carbohydrates helps to ease the pangs of a fast because they take longer to break down in the digestive process.

A diet of reduced intake is best supplemented with additional complex carbohydrates. Increasing those carbs will also help the body retain water.

Your best bet before a fast, then, is to load up on the following foods: breads and cereals (especially wholegrain); pasta, rice and potatoes; vegetables with edible skins, stems, and seeds; legumes; fruits (especially those with edible skins and seeds); nuts and popcorn (without the added fat and salt it makes a great, healthy snack).

Decrease Salt

No real news here. When you eat salted foods, the sodium in your blood level rises. This not only stimulates the brain’s thirst receptor (which triggers the thirst sensation), it also affects the body’s water requirement, because water is needed to remove salt from the body. So even if you can’t live without pickles and other salted delicacies on a daily basis, try to resist anything very salty before a fast.

Avoid Caffeine

If you regularly drink more than two or three cups of coffee a day—or if you are a caffeinated cola fanatic—consider tapering off several days before, so that by one or two days prior to the fast you will not be consuming any caffeine at all. Although caffeine isn’t technically addictive, the body becomes accustomed to its stimulant effects. Suddenly abstaining from caffeine after an extended period of even moderate intake will probably produce the characteristic “withdrawal headache.” The diuretic properties of caffeine, as mentioned earlier, will aggravate you further by increasing your need for water. Finally, you can minimize water loss by being careful not to exert yourself too much the day before a fast. Exercise only moderately, and stay out of the sun as much as possible.

By following the suggested recommendations set forth, some of the discomfort experienced on a taanit can be alleviated.

The Basics

Include:

Eight to ten glasses of water (or other, non-caffeinated beverages)

Small portions of animal protein.

Large portions of starch and carbohydrates (whole-grain breads and

cereals, pasta, potatoes, legumes and unsalted popcorn).

Vegetables and fruits with edible skins or seeds.

Avoid:

Coffee, tea, caffeinated sodas

fried, salted, or spicy foods.

Menu Suggestions:

Liberal amounts of plain water, 100 percent fruit juice, seltzer, and herbal tea (teabags rather than bulk tea are preferable)

Whole-grain challah.

Chicken (broiled, baked, grilled, boiled).

Rice (preferably brown) and lentils or limas.

Lightly sautéed or steamed mixed vegetables (zucchini, summer squash, snow peas, carrots) or tossed salad with romaine or other dark green varieties of lettuce.

Cakes and lots of fresh fruit.

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Yom Kippur Reflections

They did it again, my boys. They humbled me beyond belief with their excellent behaviour over the Fast. I always think that I could not possibly be prouder of them, and they unknowingly strive to prove me wrong!!

 

We had a wonderful seudat mafseket together – and I bensched my boys before leaving for shul. Bensching them on a Friday night always brings a tear to my eye, so you can imagine how emotional it was for me bensching them before the most awesome day of the year.

 

We arrived at shul, and separated. The boys were sitting together on the other side of the mechitzah, and thanks to the newly installed one way glass mechitzah I was at least able to see what they were doing, and what was going on in the service. At one point I was quite concerned, as I only saw Pigeon (with his hat brim turned up – it so annoys me LOL), and I knew Puffin was in the back room with some little buddies. After a while I found Duckie and Woodpecker – they were sitting with a family friend, who had seen them look a little lost, so he took them under his wing, and made sure they knew the place. I was so grateful! I knew they were in safe hands so I was able to get back to concentrating on my davening.

 

What a blessing it is to be able to pray to our G-d freely, without worry of being caught or persecuted for believing in Him. I was thinking about that today. Our ancestors at one time or another suffered for being Jewish and serving G-d, do we even realize today how very lucky we are, that we can take the day off work, go to shul, and not have a second of worry about being “caught”? Do we even appreciate the freedom of religion that we have?

 

This morning the boys left for shul, each being responsible for themselves, and Duckie taking care of Puffin, making sure he was ok. My middle two sons fasted till 1 pm, at which time they came home with Puffin, to eat and to rest up a little. They were here till 5, but were so quiet and so well behaved that it was almost surprising when they came to say they were leaving to go to mincha. Puffin wanted to go back to shul too, so I let him go. When they all came home after the Fast was over they told me how amazingly well Puffin had behaved in shul – he was so proud of himself. The boys set up for the Break Fast meal, wouldn’t let me lift a finger. Pigeon was so thrilled to break his fast on my chicken soup. He said it was miracle cure!

 

Again, I have to acknowledge my community for keeping an eye on my boys during davening, making sure they didn’t feel alone, or lost. It was beyond me to make it to shul today, but I knew that the boys would take care of each other, and that our friends in the shul would be there for them if needed. They were offered the choice to stay home with me, but they chose to go to shul to daven. They wanted so much to be part of the service. They not only did me proud, but they did themselves proud.

 

Now we get to look forward to Shabbat and next week comes Sukkot. I am so excited for Sukkot – although this time of year it can get very chilly out there. Especially up here on this frozen Canadian tundra of ours!!

 

I hope you all had a meaningful and easy fast, and may we merit to be spending all future holidays in Jerusalem with the coming of Moshiach. Amen!

Turning over a new leaf

With Yom Kippur fast approaching I wanted to share my new year’s resolutions with you. I don’t usually make resolutions, because I resolved not to keep them as it’s generally too hard and I have been a completely lazy bunny in the past. However this year I feel inspired from within.

 

I have resolved to not curse or swear, even inside my head or under my breath. I am finding it not as difficult as I thought it would be, but it makes me hyper sensitive to those around me who don’t have their colourful cursing quashed. Nothing like a reformed curser…

 

I also want to try my hardest to leave Lashon Hara and Rechilut behind in the dust. There should be no room for it in my life, but sometimes the temptation to gossip proves just so delicious. I need to withstand that temptation. If anyone has any tips on how to bite their tongue in this regard, I would very much appreciate it.

 

I had a very thought provoking conversation with a friend today, about the Ashamnu’s. How many of us have ever taken the time to look through them, and decide that next year we want to be able to say I don’t have to beat my chest for that one – I worked on it, and I vanquished that aveirah. Wouldn’t that just be an awesome feeling?

 

For me, for some reason, I feel the need to work on the aveirot that we do with the mouth,  tongue, speech etc. I guess included in this is not yelling at the kids, something I rarely do, but hey, I am a person not a robot and am so not perfect. But there is a line I use on my perfect kids when they show some speech related imperfections, and I guess it was time to stop and think about the words that I actually used. “you kiss your mother with that mouth” and “you daven to Hashem with that same mouth”. We can use our mouth for so much good – prayer, kissing booboos better, encouraging people, advising, supporting, consoling etc. Isn’t it better to do good with ones mouth than yell, badmouth, denigrate and the like?

 

I am so not a holy roller, folks, I just want to improve myself. Who is up to the challenge?

 

Days of Awe

 

Awe – “an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime <stood in awe of the king> <regard nature’s wonders with awe> “, from Merriam Webster’s online dictionary.

 

Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur are around the corner. These have been called the Days of Awe forever. On these days we stand in front of God and pray to be forgiven our transgressions, and to be blessed with being written in the Book of Life.

 

Nowadays, the kids come home with lovely songs about dipping apples in honey, and the sounds the shofar makes etc, which gets them involved in the holiday, but as grown ups, do we often stop to think about the AWE of these days? These are some of my thoughts:

 

My recent trip to Israel, combined with my experiences over the last few years have fused together this year to fill my soul with what I feel is awe. I am so excited and nervous to face the Almighty on Rosh Hashannah. I cannot wait to pray to Him with a full heart, with an open soul. I feel that for perhaps the first time in my life I come to Him ready to receive His decree and to accept it in the spirit in which it is given. My telepathic pathways are open and buzzing with impatience. I have so much I want to say, but more than that, I have so much that I want to understand, that I want to feel, that I want to BE.

 

I am sitting here with tears rolling down my face as I contemplate the holiness of the days before us. I am thinking about how to improve myself as a person, as a mom, as a daughter, sister, friend. I am wondering what it is that God wants from me, from Hadassah, His child. I want to be the best Hadassah I can be, but I am not sure I even know how. We all know that we have a destiny created for us, and it’s up to us to do our bit to fulfill it, but how? How can we fulfill that when we are not told what it is?

 

At 120 when I am called before God after my time on this earth He is not going to ask why I wasn’t more like Sarah or Rebecca, Rachel or Leah, our foremothers, nor like Ruth, or Esther or Naomi. No, He will want to know why I wasn’t everything Hadassah should have been. I want, I want so much to be that person that knows who she is and where she is meant to be in her life spiritually. I want to feel that I am accomplishing what I need to as a Bat Yisrael. I want to be everything that’s good and right in this world, so that in my zechut my children, my blessed sons, will be healthy and happy and will have all they need to be God fearing Jews, to observe Hashem’s commandments and to live their life as was pre-ordained for them.

 

How can I, a simple person, ever hope to achieve the spiritual level that I wish for myself? I am human. I am flawed. I know I have my strengths and my gifts, and I thank God daily for those, but we are told to strive for perfection in our Avodat Hashem – how? How is that even possible in this day and age?

 

I should be trembling as the shofar blows – I know what teshuvah I need to do, and I am trying to do it. But teshuvah only goes so far – it’s not worth anything unless we continue to work on ourselves and improve.  If I tell God that I am sorry that I behaved in a certain way – how can I continue to behave in that way after Yom Kippur? It makes a mockery of the whole thing.

 

I pray that God gives me strength to do a pure and honest teshuvah, that He blesses me with the internal ability to grow spiritually every day that is given to me.

 

I wish you all a Ketivah VeChatimah Tovah – may you all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.