I love the image above- the image I painted for Shabbat Shuva. I used this painting (based on artwork by Ben Shahn) for last week’s reflections on the Shabbat preceding Yom Kippur.
It exemplifies the grandeur of Yom Kippur. The shofar is a central and defining sound of our supplications to Gd. Jews of all colours and races, Jews with different traditions and approaches to life gather and recognize Yom Kippur in their own way. The menorah represents the religious objects that guide us through our observances. Above all we see the hand of Gd, immersed in flames. The strength and power of Gd are beyong our simple understanding but still we strive to get closer to Gd.
The second day of Yom Kippur, during mincha (the late afternoon prayers) we read the Book of Jonah. It’s a great adventure story. Jonah warned the inhabitants of the town of Ninevah that they would be destroyed if they didn’t change their evil ways. Evreryone- from the King to the animals(!) fasted and prayed in order to avert the punishment. They did repent and change their behaviours and Gd pardoned them.
The text refers Gd’s attention to all living things. Gd cared for the inhabitants of Ninevah who weren’t Jewish. The message is that we, who are created in the image of Gd, also are to care for all living beings around us and treat all living beings with compassion and understanding.
The story of Jonah also shows each person’s struggle with him or her self.
That is Yom Kippur. A conversation between oneself and Gd. It is an accounting of behaviour and motivation. Each person’s path and value is different and we must each examine ourselves- not judge others.
I hope you have – or had- a meaningful fast and meaningful prayer. May this year be one of health, peace, love, and joy for you, your family, and the world.
גמר חתימה טובה וצום קל