minutia press.
Yom Kippur

Well, my comment-to-original-post ratio remains high, but it's been awfully quiet out there. Tonight at sundown begins Yom Kippur or "Day of Atonement". It's a very introspective time, ending 10 days of soul-searching since the Jewish New Year. When I was a kid, I remember sitting in services and thinking none of the sins applied to me -- things like xenophobia, stiff-neckedness, that kind of thing. But since becoming an adult, the list hits far too close to home. Things were very simple as a kid, very black and white, but now they are very grey.

There's a prayer said or sung tonight called "Kol Nidrei" and it is written in Aramaic, the language Jews in the days of Jesus spoke, so that Jews of that day would understand completely what they were saying. The prayer says that all vows and promises made between now and next year are null and void and have no meaning. The intent concerns vows between oneself and G-d, but the prayer originated because Jews long ago had to say things they didn't mean, to avoid being killed. Some have taken this prayer to mean that you can't trust the word of a Jew, but that is nonsense. In this country, an agreement made under duress is void.

I guess the biggie about the hoilday is realization that one's potential can exceed greatly what one has done so far, and that can be a sobering thought.

It's an amazingly complicated thing being human. Unlike other species, we pretty much have to restrain ourselves continuously from doing what seems natural. Other species, they enjoy "load and go" "plug and play" programming. From Puma to Foosa, they don't get in trouble for doing day to day what comes naturally. But we humans---driven as we are to conquer, plunder, procreate---we must channel or repress these tendencies if we want to get along in our society.

To end on a positive note, one of my favorite Jewish proverbs is that one is held accountable for every joy one chooses not to experience in life. Not bad for religion, huh?


Wow. I really like that proverb.

Posted by: James at September 16, 2002 2:14 AM