A thought for Yom Kippur

Living in Israel is quite an experience, especially during the High Holy Days.

JEWISH WORSHIPERS cover themselves with prayer shawls  370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
JEWISH WORSHIPERS cover themselves with prayer shawls 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
It’s amazing to live in Israel. Though faced each day with trials and tribulations on a national and international scale, living here is a special experience, with a diverse population and as many opinions.
Living in Israel is quite an experience, especially during the High Holy Days.
The rush before Rosh Hashana is not only the rush to prepare, it’s the rush to have the right gifts for everyone. Yes, in Israel it is traditional to give each of your guests or each of your hosts gifts during the holidays. A gift for all, young or old, a gift for the cousin that you see once a year, and a great way to begin the holiday meal.
Yet through all the rush on stores, shopping for groceries in bulk because all of them will be closed, we find the time to think about what this past year has brought and what we hope for in the coming year.
The week before Yom Kippur gives us each time to look back and reflect, while at the same time having the opportunity to look into the future and ask what we want for the following year. Some will see the half-empty cup and others will go through this process in gratitude. We each have our individual traditions taught to us through generations.
I eagerly wait for the eve of Yom Kippur each year.
The streets are filled with rushed shoppers, the stores all close very early and by early afternoon a sense of silence encompasses the country. Even the dogs stop barking.
As the sun sets, the cars on the road dwindle down and the streets become silent. Neighbors in white begin their walk to synagogue.
It is beautiful.
During this unique time in Israel and in the entire Jewish world, I am often reminded of the “Ana Bekoach” prayer which many believe has special powers.
The poem has seven lines with six words in each line, 42 words in all composing the name of God. Seven lines for the seven days of the week.
The Kabbalistic prayer was written by Rav Nehuia Ben Hakannah centuries ago and is believed to be able to bring new and positive energy into our lives, to bring order from the chaos of our everyday lives, and to bring healing energy to the body and the soul.
Israeli singer Ovadia Hamama sings this beautiful prayer/poem so wonderfully and it is well known in Israel.
When I first heard Ana Bekoach on the radio, I assumed that it was a prayer from Yom Kippur. Later I would learn that it was from the Kabbala, and that the message is truly extraordinary. It could be that if it were published for the first time today, it would be called “new age,” because it speaks of energy, of positive energy and what can be achieved if we use this energy; it speaks of the energy of light within each of us, of our ability to live through giving and of overcoming the many obstacles that we are faced with along the paths of our lives.
In seven lines we learn that each of us can overcome obstacles. We each have the freedom of choice and we are able to choose every day of our lives. Our minds our wondrous and the freedom to choose our thoughts at any specific moment allows us to be unique in these choices. Whoever we are, we all possess this ability. We are able to choose how we would like to live our lives and choose the path. We can do our heshbon nefesh looking at all we lack, or we can choose to look at all that we are blessed with.
What has this year taught us? What do we pray for in the upcoming year? Yom Kippur is a great opportunity to look at ourselves and make decisions about what we will do in the upcoming year to make our lives better. We can use the energy and take action to use the energy to make a better life for ourselves, for our families and for our community. What will you do this year that will bring joy into the lives of others and joy to yourself? It’s for each of us to decide.
Ana Bekoach. Gmar Hatima Tova!
Karel Glazer loves working with people and is a Certified Life Coach and author.
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