The call of the hour on Yom Kippur is this: a full day is given to us to realize that our lives are undeserved. Life is only great when it is earned through a dignified response.
It is Divine humor that tells us to live with absurdity, and supreme holy witticism that asks us to live with laughter. We are asked to enjoy the journey and realize that there is no arrival.
What is the source of religious passion? It is the awareness that something cannot become exhausted. To appreciate Judaism and see it as a blessing is to understand that just as the ocean is unfathomable, so Judaism transcends all interpretations. Understanding Judaism cannot be attained in the comfort of observing its laws or studying its texts. It occupies infinite space, beyond the limitations of the human mind and heart.
This awesome thought is the focal point of Yom Kippur. Am I worthy to have a claim on life? Or, have I been born but lost my right to live? This is by far the most important question for man to ask. The trembling of the earlier generations on Erev Yom Kippur was indeed that of great pachad (fear) – not fear of punishment or death, but of not rising to the challenge of living in God’s presence and fulfilling one’s destiny!
I would like to suggest that in the last few hundred years nearly all Jews have become marranos. Although no longer forced to convert to Christianity, or any other religion, they willfully adopt philosophies that estrange them from their Jewish roots. Alienation has become the very condition under which most Jews today live their lives. They believe that Judaism is outdated and needs to be replaced. Often they arrive at such conclusions due to a lack of Jewish knowledge and a greater familiarity with non-Jewish sources.
In former times, no hours were more extraordinary in our forefathers’ lives than those just before the onset of the awesome day, Yom Kippur. These comprised moments of such intense religious upheaval in the human soul that it was as if the world became a different planet, one in which all normal human needs and worries fell away.
In former times, no hours were more extraordinary in our forefathers’ lives than those just before the onset of the awesome day, Yom Kippur.
Kal Nidrei (1) is by far the most celebrated prayer in all Jewish Communities around the world and the most attended throughout the Jewish year. Tens of thousands of Jews who would otherwise never participate in a synagogue service will make sure
“On Rosh Hashana all those who came to the world pass in front of Him like a flock of sheep.”
Following a lecture by Rabbi Cardozo, I was thinking about the problem of converts coming before a beit din and feeling pressured to lie to the effect