Sunday, March 22, 2009

Holy Days

This week I have been reading about the High Holy Days: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I have always known the names of these days but I really had no clue about their meanings. Well, I knew Rosh Hashanah was the Jewish New Year celebration but I had no idea that it was actually strongly related to Yom Kippur.

The most interesting thing that caught my attention is the public confession on Yom Kippur. I think it is such a neat thing. I mean, it gives the confession some weight. It is so much harder to confess something in public and therefore it seems to be more powerful than to just confess for ourselves or to another person. It is powerful in many senses; most importantly, on the one hand it confirms the sense of belonging to the community, and, on the other hand it may be more effective in preventing one from the repetition of the same mistakes.

I have read that the Kol Nidre is such a powerful prayer that it even turned Jews back toward their tradition, despite of their previous desire to look elsewhere for spirituality. Now I understand everything because I have listened to the prayer and even though I don't exactly know what it speaks about, it speaks in a beautiful tone.

The idea of "twice-a-year Jew" is not completely foreign for me. I have heard about the "Chreasters" in Christianity from my friends. I guess it is the same idea, Chreatrers go to church only at Easter and Christmas (the two biggest Christian holidays), while twice-a-year Jews go to the synagogue at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the two major Jewish holidays). The difference, though, between these two is, I think, that while Chreasters go to church on these days due to some kind of external pressure (family, peers, etc) Jews go (even if only 2 times a year) because they feel they belong to the community, they share the tradition. I am not saying there is no external pressure in case of Jews or that it is exclusively the external pressure in case of Christians -- but mostly it is.

It is also very nice to know that I was born in the month of Tishrei, which is the month of Yom Kippur.

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