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