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Yom Kippur

The hard work is behind us.

We prayed, chanted, cried, healed, remembered, re-aimed our arrows of good intentions toward the target of new priorities, and reflected on trying not to deflect.

We focused.

During Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we listened and heard inspirational, sometimes challenging, and ever-genuine pleas, both verbalized and sung, from our rabbis, our cantors, and our fellow congregants. We marveled at our executive directors and professional staff and maintenance crews for the magic they orchestrated behind the scenes.

We got swept up in...

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Yom Kippur has concluded. The break-the-fast has been consumed, and the prayers about becoming the person we could be are now a memory. Now you – and every other Jew and Jewish family – must decide whether to kvetch or kvell.

Kvetching is that typically Jewish act of complaining.

We Jews love to kvetch, loudly and regularly, about things big and small. We kvetch about our families. We kvetch about our kids. We kvetch about our jobs, spouses/partners, the economy, and the government… everything. After High Holidays services, everyone seems to have something to kvetch about.

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Yom Kippur atones for transgressions between a person and God, but for a transgression against one's neighbor, Yom Kippur cannot atone, until he appeases his neighbor.

-- Mishna Yoma 8:9 

Once again, I am in awe of the way our Hebrew calendar brilliantly sets up the year, linking our emotional and spiritual sensibility with our material and earthly existence. During the past 40 days, we have had opportunities both to ask for forgiveness and to forgive, so that we are fully prepared to come before God on Yom Kippur, also known as Yom HaDin or Judgment Day.


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It is for good reason that Jews close Yom Kippur — just before the blowing of the shofar — with the triumphant cry from the wonderful passage (First Kings, Chapter 19) in which Elijah vanquishes the prophets of Ba’al on Mt. Carmel:  “Adonai, hu haElohim!  The Eternal One (alone) is God!”  We chant it seven times before we hear the shofar (the only time all day we hear the shofar on Yom Kippur) to signify the end of the most solemn holy day in our calendar.

Sadly, most Jews have no idea of this connection, but it is crucial! King Ahab and (even more so) Queen Jezebel — a name known...

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We journey through the Torah discovering truths. Sometimes we need to look hard in the Torah and in ourselves to discover the necessary truths to properly guide our actions. Sometimes the truth appears in the most unsuspected places. Leviticus is often thought to be the most boring and uninteresting book of the Torah. But, among the descriptions of the cubits of the tabernacle and the arrangements of the priestly garments are important lessons about how we deal with the inevitable sins of being human. Each year on Yom Kippur we read Leviticus Chapter 16 about sin and the scapegoat.

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