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An innocent look at Yom Kippur

ילדה מתפללת בכותל
צילום מתוך אתר הקרן למורשת הכותל

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

The innocence of children. It seems to me that this is what we need as Yom Kippur arrives. Yesterday, on a Zoom meeting of Nifgashot, a workshop for girls, the special answers I heard taught me a great deal.
I asked the girls what they felt now that Yom Kippur is almost here and they answered: Joy. "This is the day we enter filthy and come out clean," one of the girls wrote over chat. "This is the day that makes it possible to fix everything and start over. What's more fun than that?" Sometimes from a glut of Midrash, commentary, and quotations we lose the simple and joyful message of this day: "For on this day atonement shall be made for you, to cleanse you."
We spoke about the custom of accepting upon ourselves a new commitment in the run-up to Yom Kippur. I asked which little commitment each of them was prepared to make and to keep. The answers were simple and wonderful. "Not to speak lashon hara (insulting or negative speech) during the first recess at school." "Not to make friends with girls who ghost or bully other girls." "To take care of my little brother and sister more joyfully." "To wash the dishes when mother asks me to."
When I asked what part of the day they liked the most, there was a division between Kol Nidrei (recited at the beginning of the evening prayers) and Ne'ilah (last of the five Yom Kippur services), but one of the girls wrote: "Even though I sometimes break the fast because I am young, it is still important for me to make it to the Ne'ilah prayer." And another simply said: "The first bite of food after the fast. You feel like an angel."
May we all merit, no matter our age, to connect with the essence of Yom Kippur in a similar fashion.


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