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the most important day of the year

09/09/2021 09:31:30 AM

Sep9

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

When asked about the most important day of the year, most Jews will probably answer “Yom Kippur”. Let’s examine for a moment what Yom Kippur is all about. We just began on Rosh Hashanah an intense ten-day period of reflection called in Hebrew Aseret Y’mei Teshuvah, Ten Days of Teshuvah. It is during these ten days that we are to seek out those we have wronged or may have wronged, and ask their forgiveness. It is never easy to say that you are sorry, especially if it is some time after the wrong has been committed. The hope would be that the attempt at forgiveness is sincere, the one you are apologizing to recognizes that, and accepts your Teshuvah. Teshuvah is ill-defined when we call it “repentance”, for it is much more than that. Teshuvah denotes that we have strayed from the right path, and God warmly welcomes us to return to the proper path. But the way to get to that path is by seeking out those that we have wronged and asking forgiveness.

We should have been utilizing the month of Elul for introspection, closely examining our deeds and identifying ways to become an even better version of ourselves for 5782. Teshuvah is a critical part of that process. By the time Yom Kippur has commenced, we should have completed that part of the process. Then why Yom Kippur? That’s the time where we acknowledge how we have failed God in the expectations placed upon us, and we perform Teshuvah before God. Indeed, a powerful day. But, I don’t think that it is the most important day. That day is…..the day after Yom Kippur.

If you have spent the month of Elul engaged in introspection, Aseret Y’mei Teshuvah seeking forgiveness from those that you have wronged, and fasted for 25 hours while performing Teshuvah before God, then the day after Yom Kippur should reflect a newer you, changed in some way. If one were to resume where they left off prior to the month of Elul, that all of this did not result in a better version of yourself, then why Yom Kippur? For those who think that Yom Kippur clears our slate, making room for more bad choices, because God will forgive us again next year, that is not how it works. Our sincerity is also noted, and one day, each of us will stand before the Heavenly Tribunal, with the ledger of our deeds representing us. God will ask us one question, and one question only: Why?

Why were you in synagogue on Yom Kippur, yet emerged unchanged? If we are conscientious and well-intentioned during Yom Kippur, the only possible end result is a newer you, freed from the shackles of sin that weigh us down. The best way to demonstrate that is the day after Yom Kippur. So I ask you: What will your day after Yom Kippur look like? What version of yourself will others meet on that day? And as God will ask you: Why?

May you be inscribed for a good year.

Thu, September 23 2021 17 Tishrei 5782