Thursday, October 2, 2014

Humility, The Beauty of Yom Kippur

Every fall, Jews all over the world come together for the holiest day of the year, our Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. For approximately 26 hours, we refrain from eating, drinking and partaking in worldly pleasures and instead spend the day in synagogue, often literally on our knees, asking God to forgive the sins we committed over the prior year.

Yom Kippur is a day of awe and judgment, but because God is loving and merciful He forgives all our sins if our repentance is sincere—with one critically important caveat: though God will “automatically” forgive all sins made against Him, He will not forgive sins we’ve made against other people unless those people forgive us first.

Thus in order for our sin slate to be wiped clean, we must spend the days leading up to Yom Kippur seeking out those we’ve wronged to ask their forgiveness.

For me personally, this aspect of the day is the most meaningful. Examining my relationships and apologizing to those I’ve mistreated is profoundly humbling. Having to acknowledge that there were moments when I was not kind or considerate, that there were times when I stepped out of line, and that some of my actions negatively impacted someone I hold most dear reminds me to stay grounded.

In this way, Yom Kippur is a tough but a wonderful day for it reminds us that the path to Godliness is not only paved with our relationship with God Himself, but also our relationships with each other.