This has been a tough year for me no doubt. Breast cancer round two has been a most unwelcome event in my life and today, on my day of atonement, I feel a little bit lost as to what to do. Despite being Jewish and feeling so to my core, I have not practiced the rituals of Judaism much in my life and feel very confused today.
It is not only Yom Kippur, it is the Sabbath. I don't practice the weekly sabbath meal on Friday nor do I attend synagogue. The question is, does this make me a bad Jewish person? Does this make me less of a good person because I don't actually do these things?
I am not in synagogue today. I don't belong to one nor have I since my children were bat mitzvah'd. I feel as though I need to be there today yet I am home just after a round of chemotherapy and not feeling so great. I will not fast today as I never have due to daily medications (particularly now) that don't allow me to go 24 hours without food. I am supposed to cleanse my body and purify it by not eating today. I can't.
So, this morning I awakened feeling as though there should be things I should be doing that I know I will not. I know I am not alone. One of my daughters had to work today and she is filled with guilt. My other daughter is home with me trying to fast; we'll see how that goes. But the issue of the day is this: will I continue to be inscribed in the Book of Life if I do not practice the rituals of this holiday?
Last week I prepared a festive meal for Rosh Hashana and spent the next afternoon with dear friends who belong to the Chabad movement. They have taught me much about Judaism that I have not known and for that I am grateful. I did "Tashlich" for the first time in my life. A ritual that involves the casting off of sins at a body of water. I felt really good accomplishing this task and participating in the actual events of the day.
But what about all the other holidays? These are the highest, holiest days. Technically since it is the Sabbath I should not be on my computer nor should I be typing which is considered work. Am I sinning by bearing my soul today? This year I have asked many questions of God; will they not be answered if I do not practice all the rituals of the day?
Throughout my life I have felt my Judaism to my core. I am proud of what I am and who I am. Yet I wonder, particularly now having gone through this second bout of illness if my lack of practice has caused God to question my faith.
I pray every single night. I don't pray for riches or "things", I pray for the health, safety and the well being of my family. On certain holidays such as Passover, Chanukah and Rosh Hoshana I prepare the meals; I follow tradition. I try to be a good person; I believe in Karma. But the question of today is is this enough?
I know that there are other Jewish people that only attend synagogue on the "High Holidays" we are in right now. They do not observe otherwise; does that make them hypocrites? Am I a hypocrite because I don't observe more closely?
I don't want to view myself this way. I don't want to believe that my lack of participation in the rituals of the holiday will cost me my health and well being. Today is a day of repentance. THE day of repentance. And the sins of my past year are hopefully going to be forgiven. They're not so bad; I gossiped a bit more than I should and I swore a lot. I followed the ten commandments pretty close.
So on the highest of Holy Days, I can only continue to hope and pray that despite my lack of participation, I am recognized by God as a good person who will be given the blessing of forgiveness and life for another year. And that my family will be given these gifts as well.
God, are you listening?
Read more on other days when I am not so serious :) Subscribe!!
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