Joyous Secrets of Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is a joy!

How can I say such a thing about a day that a fast day full of long and boring services?

Can you keep a secret? (if you read to the end, you will find that  I am revealing 2 secrets)

Yom Kippur is one of the most joyous days of the year.  It is the day we give our souls its annual bath.

Think back to when you were a child and had to take a bath after spending the day playing in mud puddles.  You came in the house and your mom told you you had to march upstairs and take a bath.

The Horror!

I don’t know about you, but I would argue and delay… anything to avoid having to get into the bathtub.

Of course once I got out, all squeaky clean and shiny, I felt so alive and happy to be clean.

The difficulty we feel on Yom Kippur is the same difficulty we feel as a child having to take that bath.

And the joy of Yom Kippur, at the end of Yom Kippur, is the joy of the child after the bath, feeling fresh and clean.

This is one aspect of Yom Kippur.  This is the not-so-secret, secret.

Are you ready for the secret secret?

Remember a couple of weeks ago, in my last blog post, I mentioned that Rosh haShannah is about planting your intentions for the coming year?

After you plant something, you need to remove the weeds to give what you planted space to grow.

Same with your intentions.

Yom Kippur is the weeding process.

Here is a way to do it:

Think about who you want to be at this time next year.  You might want to review what you planted on Rosh haShannah (if you planted your intentions at that time.  If you didn’t you can also do that on Yom Kippur morning and do the weeding in the afternoon).  Then imagine how this future you will respond to different people and things that happen in life.

Next think about how you currently respond to people and things that happen in life and make a list of the ways that are similar between the current you and the future you, and a second list of how your respond differently.

It is important at this point not to judge your actions.  There is no good or bad in any of this – there just is.

On Yom Kippur, ideally in the late afternoon (during the n’eelah service if you go to services), imagine you are having a private audience with the Divine Source of Life (whatever you wish to call it) behind locked doors.

Take the second list you made, the list of how you will behave differently between your current self and your future self.  This is the list of things you want to weed out of your life.  Not that they are bad; on the contrary, they are part of who you are today!  Rather, they just are in the way of allowing you to become who you wish to be and need to be weeded out to make room for your ways of being.

Share this list with the Divine and ask for help in weeding out these old ways and taking on the new ways you wish to be.

As a bonus, you can also ask for any help you want from Divinity at this time.  Open up and share; the doors are locked and it is just the two of you.

And enjoy the new clean you.

To find out how Succot continues this process, simply fill out the form below and you will receive emails when the Succot blog entry are made, as well as other ideas I share on this blog.

If you have and questions or comments, please leave them below. Thanks.


About the Author

Picture of Shmuel Shalom Cohen Shmuel Shalom Cohen spent 10 years studying Torah in Jerusalem. Six years ago, he started Conscious Torah to help Jews connect to their tradition in ways they didn’t think possible. Shmuel also started, and is the executive directory of Jewish Events Willamette-valley, a non-profit whose mission is to build Jewish community, pride, and learning. In his free time, Shmuel likes walks in nature, playing music, writing poetry, and time with good friends.

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