A little Yom Kippur video from your friends at PunkTorah.
by Patrick Aleph
Every year before Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, I make a blog post of every sin I have committed in the previous year…a socially networked vidui. This ritual of mine stems back to a debate about whether sins should even be announced publicly (which might have consequences) or privately, where they might have less impact on the person who seeks teshuva (return).
At any rate, my theory has always been that the government, non-profit organizations, multi-national corporations and Facebook have all of our sins logged somewhere in a massive database, so announcement of sins in public is really not that big of a deal. So here it goes.
Patrick Aleph’s 5770 Vidui
Shellfish. Not intentionally, but when you go out for sushi with people who love shrimp, accidents do happen.
Being A Crummy Friend. Several times this year I disappointed people. It’s mostly because I never answer my phone, or my phone is dead and I forget to charge it. I don’t push hard enough to maintain relationships with people when I really should. This is a major character flaw on my part and something I really need to work on. I also need to go to more of my friends’ shows…or just go out more in general. It’s a myth that someone who works for PunkTorah would party a lot. I’m actually, painfully domestic. Also, I don’t make myself available to people like I should.
Putting Work Before Life. I’m not always the best at balancing work and life. I know that’s not really a sin itself, but it does cause a slippery slope because you start to neglect everything else. Too tired to go to synagogue (keeping the Sabbath)? Too stressed out to call your parents (honoring your mother and father)? It all comes together in one big stew of personal disappointment.
Lashon Hara (Gossip). I’m a blogger, so it comes with the territory. But on several occasions, I spoke about people in ways that I shouldn’t have. It’s judgmental, rude, and in practical terms, always comes back to bite you. Especially in a small community like the Jewish community, talking smack about others is just plain stupid.
Meat and Milk Mixing. Couldn’t find any vegetarian food in New Orleans at the Birthright Israel Next National Convention, so I ate a sandwich that (I discovered as I was eating) had cheese on it. Oops.
Placing Blame On Others. I’ve had a few instances where I was so overwhelmed by life that when something wasn’t going the way I wanted (and of course, I am the center of the universe, no?) I decided the smartest thing to do was to place blame on others. I feel sorry about that.
Quickness To Anger. I tend to bottle things up. For as much as I tell people to be honest with me, I’m really bad about not talking about the things that matter to me. I tend to assume that if I have to make the point of telling people what I want, then those are people who don’t care anyway and that it’s useless. So I suppose this is a two-part confession: a confession that I need to chill out, but that I also need to give people more credit.
Not Living Up To Expectations. Adult ADD makes me get involved in too many things at once. Other people aren’t like that, so when I’m unable to live up to what I set out to do, on a certain level I forget, “ok dude, you should hold back making plans until you know you can actually follow through.” I think I’m better about this, but at the same time, it makes me feel like a jerk because when people come to me and ask me to get involved in things, I have to say no. It feels like a no-win situation sometimes. But nevertheless, I’m working on it.
Facebook. ‘nough said.
Greed. I really need to give more tzedakah. I think this is a common problem among people in the non-profit world. We assume that since we work in a “need based” field, our whole lives are a tzedakah. But they are not. That’s a cop out. I also tend to chase after money. It’s a psychological defect created by years of self employment and living on the edge. I’m fine now. Time to lay that Yetzer Hara aside.
Well there ya have it. Now it’s time to smack my chest and starve.
What do we as Jews do that makes us so deserving of G-d’s praise and warm light? What have we done in order to wear white on Yom Kippur and not deem ourselves hypocrites within the halls of our shuls and the streets of our communities? White is such an unflattering color! Yet, this white symbolizes purity and stands as the visual indicator for a new chapter in the book of life. It becomes more interesting when you see people wearing white clothing and leather kippot. As if they are fooling Hash-m or a moderately educated child who emerged from basic Sunday school class.
We wear white in hopes to be inscribed in the book of life. How do we get there? How do we get to that point where we get another year? If we die, does that mean we did not follow Halakah so closely that we are doomed? Elderly people hang in the balance less that someone who defaces a Torah or commits an act of haste? Then every bully on the school yard would drop dead after hanging the poor wimpy kid upside down to take his milk money. The jails would be empty because Hash-m realizes tax money should go to innocent and hungry, so He would “take them out”. It does not seem to work this way.
So there they are… all the Jews in Los Angeles, the mid west, New York, Israel, South Africa and all the scattered Diasporas around the world. What are they wearing? White! On Kol Nidre, we present our case, or our attempt to correct what wrong doings we have made in the past year, to the “court”. The whole congregation stands before Hash-m. Again, this is ironic, seeing that your avyerot are individually done, but as a community Jews stand together. This is another visual. It stands as a reminder that we are a unit, not just an individual. That what one Jew does, can and very much will, affect another. Many of the times, when we commit our acts of injustice, we as Jews forget that in many daily situations we are the only Jews someone from an outside community may know.
Our children, what good does it do for them to wear white and see the rest of the community doing so? As Jewish people, we have brilliantly found ways in which to say a ton without speaking. This is like when your mother only says “Oy!” after you have brought someone home to meet her and she is displeased. Or, it’s when you pass the kuggel interrupting a bit of Leshon Horrah that’s happening at the table. It’s nonverbal! Your kids hear you enough all year. Sometimes as parents or adults, we take pleasure hearing our own voices. In shul, every adult wearing white is standing in solidarity. It says for many, “Today is important. Today I came prepared. Today I acknowledge G-d.” Rarely do Jews agree, so to speak together sets a precedence.
For those of you who haven’t prepared for the Holy Holidays, it’s okay, you have time! However, let you be encouraged to stand before your G-d in white. It does not promise you inscription nor does it promise you praise and blessings, but it does mandate the community to pick up the visual testament of the Jewish faith. Without white attire, Yom Kippur could look like any other day. It is only correct to offer it the purest contribution your heart can provide.
Be true to the streets