Tuesday, October 4, 2011

High Holidays

My New Year's Resolution- to blog more consistently. I've been pretty good about posting four times a month, but I really want to try and get consistent with one blog post each week.

Anyway, on to the fun stuff. This holiday season causes a lot of trouble for a lot of people. A lot of people don't know how to face God on these days because of all the sins they've committed and because they haven't spoken with the Almighty in a while, and because aince we were little, at least my friends and I, were taught to be in fear of these days. Dread the long prayers, be fearful that God will slam his book shut and seal us in the Book of... notlife (is it the book of death? I don't think that was ever explained to me). This year, more than ever, I take the perspective of - what kind of religion is this? That taught us to fear our lives on it's holiest day? That taught us to pray and cry that all be forgiven for we are terrible people? No one is perfect, no Jew, no person, no one is perfect and no one is perfectly evil. So why do we sit there in shame and fear?

On Rosh Hashana- the day is simply about God. Acknowledging the divine presence in our lives, if we choose to do so, and remind ourselves and the Lord that we believe in the divine presence in our lives, whether or not we speak to God every day or whether or not we follow every law that Judaism prescribes for us.  On Yom Kippur, I have learned to acknowledge my wrongs, my shortcomings and the like. But I have also come to believe that God knows all these things I've done, God knows the inner workings of my heart, what I believe and what I do not believe, what I feel badly about and what I don't think was so terrible. And in Yom Kippur prayers I look for areas of my life that I'm not so proud of, things that need improvement, and places I can do better. And saying these things out loud, or silently to God, helps my introspective and growing process.

So on Rosh Hashanah I renew my connection to HaShem- I believe in the Almighty's existence and that I respect and understand God's presence in my life and in the world. and on Yom Kippur I look at my own actions and behaviors. Where I find fault, I admit them and think about how to improve them. Where I find good, I am thankful that there are areas of my life that don't need improving. And when I think about being gay and religious, I simply say "I'm doing the best I can". 

8 comments:

  1. When I was young, I was taught that there were three "books"- Sefer HaChaim (book of life), Sefer HaMavet (book of death), and Sefer HaBenoni (book of the person who falls in the middle). While I was, like you and your friends, taught to live these days in fear, I don't think I was ever taught that I would end up in the book of death. I think my teachers very much emphasized Sefer HaBenoni to my fellow classmates and me. It seems pretty harsh, on the part of your teachers, to teach you to fear the book of "not life," as you phrased it. Not just harsh, but potentially incredibly damaging.

    Although I can't say I'm exactly surprised, given the state of Jewish education in general.

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  2. I think that's beautiful, Ely. Thank you.

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  3. I feel exactly the same way about Rosh Hashana/ Yom Kippur.

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  4. What a wonderful, beautiful post. Really moving.

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  5. We learn from the Book of Nechemiah that one should celebrate and be happy and joyous (isn't that another word for gay!)and feast on Rosh Hashanah--so you are in good company there.
    Gmar hatimah tovah

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  6. fiddler57@yahoo.comOctober 27, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    I would like to point out that Rosh Hashana is not just recognizing Hashem's role in our lives but recognizing Hashem's Malchut... sovereignty. I'ts much more a challenge than just the recognition... I"m curious about your thoughts about this Eli... Thanks, and yasher koach on your blog!!!
    Michael

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