For Or Ahavah, Yom Kippur is a time to retreat from the noise and demands of our everyday lives. We immerse ourselves in a place of nature and quiet where we do the deep spiritual work of the holiday. We observe the five fasts, abstaining from nourishment, leather shoes, sexual relations, bathing and anointing to the extent that each of us is able.
And for all of this, our withdrawal and our fasts, we receive a sacred gift on Yom Kippur. Our fasting does not take anything away from us. We, in a sense, loosen from our bodies and from the world of physicality and become very very sensitive to the movement and callings from our hearts and our souls.
The rituals contained in the Yom Kippur services offer a prescription for these kinds of experiences. They offer us a road map to a path of discovery of greater awareness of who we really are, what we really need, and what we truly can do to help our world.
We become keenly aware of some of what lies beneath the noisy static of our daily distractions. Our consciousness expands and we begin to listen to ourselves and to others with mind and heart and spirit through which we grow and integrate. We realize that we can be more whole and that the greatest path is the “path of the open heart.” (Rabbi Arthur Green)
Even though we cannot carry this capacity to the same extent once we reenter our daily lives, the heightened awareness and a heart that is open more widely remains with us, just beneath the surface, integrated into the foundation of our being. If we continue to pay attention, even if just occasionally during the day, we also can continue to grow in our integrity and our humanity. And I think that this is a message we are left with from Yom Kippur: Be better and do better. The rituals of the holiday have shown us how.
Shalom for now,