I’d like to wish all my Jewish readers an easy and meaningful fast this Yom Kippur.
The past couple of years have been unprecedented in modern times and leaves a lot to think about and pray for over Yom Kippur.
I wrote 2 short essays for the Jewish Press’s Word Prompt section and I think they can fit nicely with my feelings on the past year:
Word Prompt Essay on the word “Forgiveness”:
As someone who has been blessed to be able to see so much of Hashem’s beautiful world, I have learned some valuable lessons along the way about true forgiveness.
When I travel I can clearly see how everything is bashert. Whether it’s a fuel shortage that caused our kosher Antarctica cruise to detour to the Falklands where we learned and printed the Tanya with a Jew, or choosing a slower customs line that caused me to be in a taxi that was just behind rather than inside a deadly riot, or a missed connection that forced us to spend a Shabbos in Japan and do a mitzvah with a Jew in Tokyo, it’s Hashem who chooses our experiences and the people we meet. What appears to be a missed opportunity becomes life changing.
Sometimes we have negative interactions and we forget that it’s Hashem who orchestrated it for his own reasons, which are ultimately for the best.
When I focus on the Hashgocha Protis rather than the “problem”, and remember that Hashem engineered the encounter for my benefit, it becomes easier to let go. By doing that, I can not only forgive, but be thankful for everyone I encounter and the lessons learned.
Word Prompt Essay on the word “Hope”:
We all hope for peace in Israel and Moshiach. But hope itself isn’t enough.
Rabbi Akiva was famous for saying, to love your fellow as yourself is the basis of the Torah. And yet, his students perished because they didn’t respect one another.
We’ve been through a year of plague, where everyone is related to or knows someone who perished. We’ve bickered about everything from masks to vaccines. Anyone stricter than us is a fascist and anyone less strict is a murderer. Did we learn to be any kinder, to respect one another, or love your fellow as yourself?
And then on Lag B’Omer we watched 45 more souls tragically pass away.
It’s certainly nobody’s fault, but how can we overlook that they were crushed because there was no space for one another?
It’s time that we learn to truly love one another as yourself and make space for other people and their opinions. We can disagree, but it can be done respectfully. The 2nd Bais Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinas shinam. Let’s work on ahavas chinam and surely, we won’t have to hope, but we’ll be celebrating together as the 3rd Bais Hamikdash descends upon Yerushalayim.
A DDF member who lives in Melbourne shared pictures with me of the massively increased police presence in his neighborhood on Erev Yom Kippur. They are there to ensure that Jews don’t go to shul on Yom Kippur, even if they are fully vaccinated and wearing masks with small crowds. The same ban applies both indoors and outdoors. Violators are subject to massive fines.
Who would have thought that in the year 2021 life could come to this?
Rabbis and Doctors there urged for an exception to be made with precautions being taken to mitigate risks, but it fell on deaf ears. That’s despite the fact that the city has allowed indoor boxing matches to proceed.
While here were planes carrying kaparos overhead last year, the lockdown is even stricter this year, and the pilot wasn’t able to get to the airport as you’re not allowed to travel more than 5 kilometers from your home.
And so if you go to shul this Yom Kippur, have in mind to include our brethren down under, who are locked down for a 2nd year in a row, in your prayers.
May all of our prayers be answered with unmasked blessings for revealed good and all of us should be inscribed and sealed in the book of life!