Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sealing Your Fate

Yom Kippur is a day filled with so many emotions. We are, in many ways, stripped from our families and friends. We stand in a room filled with people, utterly alone. We pray alone despite the other voices near us. Each was judged, their fate decided on Rosh Hashana and then comes Yom Kippur when the decree is signed by God, no less.

No less; no more. In the space of 25 hours, God will sign our fate for the coming year.

Fear - did I do all I could do? Who ever does? We are human beings, not angels, not God. How could we possibly do enough to warrant the blessings we need to survive? We need a place to live, we need food. We need enough money to buy all these things - clothes, help our children, electricity, phone, car...whatever. We need companionship and love...how many people have we driven away in anger? We need health and safety, protection from the elements but more, protection from our enemies.

How many have we judged this past year when we have no right to judge others? How can I, imperfect beyond imagination, the ultimate fraud, go before the Holiest of Beings and believe I have a right to more blessings...or even the same blessings I was given this past year? Will this be the year I stop fooling God and He sees me as I really am?

Hope - No one can fool God and so He must see me as I am, flaws and all. Am I a worse person than I was last year or the year before? If I was "good enough" to squeak into a year of living, won't I pass this year again? He gave me so much last year...blessings of a solid marriage and a man who still says "I love you" in almost every phone conversation we have; children that grow more beautiful, more responsible each year; grandchildren that defy all words...and a new one this year, so precious, so sweet. For all that I try and don't succeed, doesn't the trying mean something?

Faith - God sees all. God knows all. This journey called life that I am on has a plan to it and God will help me continue that journey. I have been blessed so many times, in so many ways. I have come home to a land that was always mine - God brought me here while so many others have not yet experienced that blessing. I have five children, three have found those that love them as no other. Blessings pour down from the heavens; we have to have faith that God watches over us and no matter what other countries do, God sees all. God knows all. God has promised to protect Israel.

Wonder - How is it possible to have such a perfect system as we do in so many ways? I always marvel. We celebrate Rosh Hashana even though it is the day on which God inscribes our future for the year to come. We sing and hug and smile and eat, despite the solemn words that remind us on that day, God decided who would live and who would die, who will be born into our lives in the coming year, and who will leave us. Who will rest and who will wander. It's a solemn, inspiring, terrifying prayer that goes right to my heart every year.

A friend's father died hours before Rosh Hashana came in...that was decided a year ago, inscribed and signed. That I would be sick for weeks this summer and feel stronger and so much better just as the holidays come to Israel...that too was decided. God knows all. God sees all. And we live our lives from moment to moment, never knowing what the next could bring.

Last year, I was driving one minute, sitting in a destroyed car the next. I never saw the man who passed the red light and smashed into my new car, sending it flying across three lanes of traffic only to crash into a thick traffic light pole. That's what life can be like, is like, for so many. Perhaps for everyone.

Sometimes in the middle of the night, I imagine the worst...a policeman coming to my door. It happened once early in the morning when everyone in the house was asleep. I opened it and my brain began thinking. Lazer is in bed. I was just there and then I went through my children thinking who isn't home. Frantic in those split seconds before it registered that the policeman was asking if I was a member of the family who lived here five years ago.

The alarm on their car was blasting away and neighbors were complaining. The only address the police had was this one...the people never updated the Ministry of the Interior's database. Breathe. All is fine.

Rosh Hashana and now as Yom Kippur approaches, that's what life is about...uncertainty, that moment of stark terror...and the calm as your life returns and you accept that Yom Kippur is not so much about sealing your fate as promising your future.

Prayer for the Soldiers of Israel
Whatever the future holds, it is what God intends for us. We can't always understand or like the path He takes us on. But there is a reason for all actions. It is at moments like this that I think of two families - both victims of terror attacks; both lost young children to barbaric murderers seeking to glorify Allah.

Both transformed their sorrow into something amazing. Both families began working to help others - one runs a fund that cares for children with developmental problems and is a constant and loud advocate for fighting terror; the second created and runs an organization dedicated to helping other families learn how to cope, to live, with the devastation of losing loved ones to terror attacks.

Last night at the Kotel
On the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur before their children were murdered, they never would have imagined the paths their lives would take. Knowing this, comes the fear and the hope and the faith.

As Yom Kippur draws near, in a few short hours, we will close the computers, the phones. The buses will all stop; the stores will all close. Israel's airport will shut down - no planes in or out. The umbrella of silence we pull down each Shabbat is nothing to the one we place over ourselves on Yom Kippur.

In a city up north, residents received a reminder that they are asked not to drive on Yom Kippur and if, for some reason they have to, they should call the police for an escort. Other than security or medical reasons, Israel is about to close off the world for 25 hours. Much of the world will never notice; but it is an inspiring thing to see, here under the umbrella.

We will fast; we will pray; we will contemplate how we can try next year to be a bit better, a bit kinder, a bit slower to anger. We will forgive our friends, our neighbors, our families, ourselves, in the hope that in doing so, God will forgive our imperfections.

And we will find, in the hours and minutes before the Gates of Heaven close again, the hope, the wonder, and even the fear and take it with us into this new year with the knowledge that God knows all. God sees all. God protects Israel.

G'mar hatima tova - may you and your family be inscribed and sealed in the book of life for a good year, a sweet year, a healthy year. May your family know no sorrows, no hunger, no need. May God watch over our sons and daughters, the soldiers of Israel...God, please help me...over my Davidi...in the year to come. 


peter dominguez said...

Thank you for sharing this with me , when reading I felt as if there was a romantic relationship with the creator of the Jewish holidays and those who observe them.
Dios te quide.

Rickismom said...

Shana tova!

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