So many hands, hearts and souls are outstretched this time of the year asking, begging, beseeching. It is expected of us that during the Yomim Noraim we are pleading with Hashem [Yisborech] to sign and seal us in the Book of Life and to take away any harsh decrees otherwise meant for us. Yet, it is likewise suitable for us to use this period to express thanks.
There are many kinds of prayers, all of which we use regularly, including, but not limited to, the words we speak from our lips and from our hearts on Yom Kippur. On this holy day, we give over: supplication, praise, contrition and appreciation.
In spite of that veracity, too often, we forget to employ the last of these types of prayer. We err in this way, even during this auspicious season when, in addition to teshuva and charity, our spiritual communications might mean the difference, literally, between life and death.
It behooves us to immerse ourselves in gratitude. From the prayers of thanks we give over, daily, in the ritualized form of the Birchot HaShachar, to the less regular and the more fleeting realizations of goodness, which we might intermittently have of the chesed that surrounds us, we are accustomed to expressing some measure of indebtedness. The former fills our minutes as regularly as does the Shema, while the latter colors our breath when we, for instance, view a sunset, a beautiful person, or a flowering shrub. Both are relatively ordinary parts of our lives.
Even so, there exist more than those aforementioned kinds of established moments for recognizing The Boss’ sympathy toward us. Reboyne-Sheloylem’s benevolence extends much farther than can any sensory delight we enjoy.
Whereas it is fitting to thank Him for our food, for the music we perform or witness, for the softness of our children and grandchildren’s kisses, for the perfume of our gardens, and for each and every sunset and sunrise to which we are privy, it is likewise necessary and appropriate to thank Him for every bit of willingness we find to face difficulties that daunt us, every bit of encouragement of which we are aware when we brush ourselves off following psychological faltering, and every bit of renewal we experience when an old year sloughs off and a new one takes its place.
The universe could have been fashioned in such a manner as to leave us without hope of change, of improvement, of personal growth. The tallies of our deeds, words and thoughts could have been destined to be lifelong, rather than year long. We could have, as well, been created in such a way as to be stuck in whatever mistakes in which we elected to engage.
However, with much love, Ovine-Meylekh built a reality in which it is and will continue to be possible to change, to get closer to Him and to live more of His will. That quality of the nature of being, if nothing else, is worth a lifetime of gratefulness.
Granted, Yom Kippur is a physically strenuous day. Folk get hungry. Folk get thirsty. Folk get tired from so much standing, bowing and sitting ever so still.
Also true that Yom Kippur is a frightening time. We are faced with are mortality, and to a lesser extent, although very significant, with the frailty of the certainty of our health, of our livelihoods, and of other facets of our wellbeing.
Nonetheless, Yom Kippur remains, at least equally, an exhilarating day. On this occasion, devoid of as many corporeal distractions as possible, we have a rare potential to lift our neshemot as high as possible and as close as possible to the Almighty’s throne.
In that place of Hashem, our large grievances are able to shrink to small ones and our small ones are able to become dust which, in turn, can be easily blown away. There, in the center of the universe, we can bask in the perfection that is G-d’s alone. We can warm our innermost essences as we prepare for another year of battling the yetza hora. Infused with Our Father’s tenderness, accordingly, we can evolve.
Yom Kippur might be The Day of Atonement, but this twenty-five hour period is, as well, the Shabbot of Shabbasim, the apex of an entire calendar’s worth of months, a singularity during which we are able to reach, with all of our hearts, with all of our souls, and with all of our might, to say “thank-you” to our creator. We ought to take advantage of the opportunity and we ought to do so. Twelve more months will come and go before we achieve this apex again.
May you have a meaningful fast! May you be sealed for all nature of good things! May you find this holiday a time of true thanksgiving.