Friday, October 7, 2011

Day of At"ONE"ment

I recently celebrated Rosh Hashana with my family.  We indulged in tzimmes, carmelized apple kugel, apples and challah in honey, and offered greetings of "L'shana Tova!" wishing that each and everyone of us has a "Sweet New Year."

Last year was hard.  Very hard.  On all of us.  I find it bewildering and somewhat amusing how we all wish for a good year to come, but we do nothing to change the circumstances that lead us to the same state we were in last year (or the year/s before for that matter).  When we fall into the same situations we feel that we have been cast into the wilderness by an omnipotent G-d, but the truth is that we never left in the first place.  That is where the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur comes into play.  On the days between the New Year and the Day of Atonement, we make restitution for past sins against our Creator and his creations, donate to charity, beg for sweetness, and fast, all to have our chance of a good year.  This is a custom that leaves me bereft and my soul feels deeply unsatisfied while sitting in the pews of a shul for 5 hours dreaming of food.

The truth of the matter is that I never feel that I alone am to blame for my circumstances.  I do what is right, I help others, I actively seek improvement in my life, I go to school, I say "yes" way too much, etc.  And what does it give me?  I am still sleeping in the same bed in my mother's house.  I still don't have a teaching job.  I still cannot afford to go to school full-time, and I am still without friends and a significant other.  Recently I read a book called The Fifth Mountain by the renowned author Paulo Coelho.  In the book, Coehlo writes of a poignant scene between the profit Elijah and the Lord on the Day of Atonement.  Elijah states that he has sinned against G-d, but that G-d has also sinned against him, leaving him homeless, loveless, friendless, and impoverished in a strange land.  Elijah uses this day to declare a truce with G-d.  That is where my opinion of At"ONE"ment comes into play. 

Earlier today, while reading Mr. Coelho's blog, I learned that this scene in The Fifth Mountain comes from a  Hasidic Jewish folktale.  For your enjoyment, and mine, I have included this tale in my blog.  It reminds me that we alone do not write our history or our future for that matter.  Without the Divine, we are nothing and have nothing.  However, the relationship with our Maker is symbiotic.  Without us, He seems very small and insignificant.  Today is the Day of Atonement, and I choose this day to be at "ONE" with my G-d.

On the Day of Yom Kippur
a Hasidic tale

On the day of Yom Kippur, Rabbi Elimelekh of Lisensk took his disciples to a bricklayer’s workshop.
“Watch how this man behaves,” he said. “Because he manages to communicate well with the Lord.”
Without noticing that he was being observed, the bricklayer ended his work and went to the window.
He took two pieces of paper from his pocket and raised them to the sky, saying:
“Lord, on one paper I have written the list of my sins. I have erred and there is no reason for me to hide that I offended You several times.
“But on the other paper is the list of Your sins towards me. You have demanded of me more than what is necessary, brought me difficult moments, and made me suffer. If we compare the two lists, You are in debt towards me. But since today is the Day of Atonement, You pardon me, I pardon You, and we shall continue on our path together for another year.”