Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Lately, we have been talking a lot about High Holiday prayers – about where and how long to pray – and about prayers versus protests, but we don’t say much about the essence of prayer itself. Perhaps if we direct ourselves to the message of Yom Kippur and if we internalize it we will argue less about tightening the lockdown.
Because what in fact are we saying in those prayers with which we are so concerned? Primarily, that we need to take responsibility for our mistakes. “We have transgressed, we have betrayed” – we and no one else. The essence of Yom Kippur is confession. This is not about another sector of the population, this is not about certain politicians, nor the corona czar. We, myself included, are at fault.
Yet after the awareness of our own guilt, we should not sink into a morass of guilty feelings, but rather understand that it’s possible to improve ourselves. Yom Kippur makes it possible to reset our systems, erase our past failings, and begin anew. Yes we made mistakes, we messed up, we lost our way, but we still have a chance to save ourselves. The gate to atonement is open.
These are not just flowery words written in the prayer book, but the real purpose of the holiest day of the year: to take responsibility and begin to repair what needs to be fixed. It seems to me that precisely at this moment in time, the State of Israel urgently needs Yom Kippur.