A prayer for Yom Kippur:
To those I may have wronged, I ask forgiveness.
To those I may have helped, I wish I had done more.
To those I neglected to help, I ask for understanding.
To those who have helped me, I thank you with all my heart.
Today is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. The Torah tells us to abstain from an assortment of physical pleasures such as eating or drinking, wearing leather footwear, bathing or washing, turning on lights, and driving. The reasons for such abstinence are (a) “when our connection to God is brought to the fore, we are compared to angels, who have no physical needs” and (b) we demonstrate the extent of our regret for our past misdeeds. (Source: chabad.org)
Instead of focusing on the physical, the majority of the day is to be spent in the synagogue, devoted to repentance and prayer. We weren’t raised in a religious household but Dad would go to temple for the High Holy Days. Dad would fast, and Leslie and I would attempt to do the same. Mom didn’t fast and Leslie and I would stay in our room and not watch television. (We didn’t abstain from TV because of its entertainment value; it seemed there were more food commercials shown that day!)
When Dad came home from temple and finished his hours-long nap, and when it had been close to 24 hours with no food or water, Leslie and I would write notes (“feed us!” and “it’s time!”) on index cards, tape them on pencils, and form a picket in line in front of Mom. That was her cue to start making our dinner of salmon croquettes and noodles with cottage cheese. We did this year-after-year and Mom reacted each Yom Kippur afternoon as if she’d seen the picket line for the first time. What a special memory!
So this Yom Kippur, I ask for forgiveness and understanding, and I thank you with all my heart.