This is Safat - a mystical city in Israel -- with the sun setting on a summer evening. Tonight is Yom Kippur and so I offer this lovely photo along with wishes for a happy and healthy year whether you are Jewish or not.
Last year I wrote about the holiday - I'm repeating it here because it says most of what I feel and believe about this day.
September 26, 2006
If you're Jewish this is a particularly important time of year. We just celebrated Rosh Hashanah - the New Year - and now are in the ten days between the New Year and the Day of Atonement - Yom Kippur - the holiest day -- the day of repentance. It's interesting to have an opportunity once a year to examine one's life and seek improvement. Where I grew up most people were Catholic and so I know a bit about Confession in those terms, but what we do is a bit different. We must seek forgiveness from those we have harmed - and take responsibility for our sins. It is our duty to give extra charity and to fast and to seek a better self beyond the confession of past transgressions. If you take it seriously it's a valuable exercise.
I have been fascinated in my now three year adventure with a more religious lifestyle - to notice the similarities between Judaism and 12 Step programs. I'm involved with Al-Anon - for people affected by the alcoholism of others - but here are some of the 12 Steps from AA - they are remarkably similar to redemption within faith:
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
I guess it makes sense - there's a reason AA works and it's probably got a lot to do with the same phenomena that enable us to find true penance on Yom Kippur or the other rituals of penance in other faiths.
Anyhow, it's a beautiful fall day, I'm working on my penance and the privilege of a new year - and wish you all the pleasure of the autumn sunshine and a peaceful heart.