A Yom Kippur Message

October 3, 2014 by  
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Rabbi Shlomo Meir Kluwgant, the president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australia sends a Yom Kippur message….

Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant

Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant

Imagine for a moment, if you will, coming to Shul on Rosh Hashana opening up the Machzor (prayer book for high holy days) and finding it to be a book full of empty pages; how would you fill them up? What would you write on these empty, clear, white and pristine pages? On this holy and awesome day, the Day of Judgment when you are afforded the opportunity to ask G-d to fulfill your needs, your wishes, and your heart’s desires for the year ahead, what would you be writing, what would you be asking for?

Let’s agree on wishes for life, health, wealth and peace so we can get them out the way. What is next? How would you possibly fill all those remaining empty pages?

Moving on to Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, the day of repentance, where we get to ask G-d to forgive us our sins and iniquities. Imagine once again a book of blank and empty pages. Which sins would you be asking G-d to forgive you for?

Which sins bother you enough to arouse a sense of guilt and sorrow, true remorse and commitment never to repeat them again.

True there is no person on the face of the earth who is perfect and free of all sin, of all trial and tribulation; everyone has their challenges. Yet if we skim across the sands of time and history since the very writing of the machzor itself, or the formulation of a standardized prayer, the same words are repeated and regurgitated each and every year, while the circumstances and nature of the needs of the generations change again and again at an ever increasing rate.

Ultimately, prayer is more than just words on a page. It has been coined the “service of the heart”, it pulls on strings far deeper and stronger than those binding the pages of our frail prayer books. True prayer is essentially the very essence of the supplicant, emanating from the deepest recesses of the soul.

So, the question now becomes, how do we reach so deeply inside ourselves to transform or transpose such profound and spiritual matter into words on a page.

To begin the journey of understanding the answer to this question, one must first consider our greatest impediment – the loss of language. Our ability to communicate honestly and meaningfully with ourselves, our family and friends and indeed with G-d Himself has become seriously diminished.

It doesn’t end there either. Not only do we have difficulty communicating our thoughts and emotions, we exist in a world of duplicitous and contrary massaging. This confused messaging from parents, teachers, and society has so deeply impacted our humanity that were we to stand face to face with the Almighty Himself, we would be left in a state, bereft of communicable dialogue.

In these ten days of repentance let us begin the journey home by asking ourselves the questions that count.

What do I need? What do I want? What do I desire? How can I improve? For what do I have to repent? The true answers to these questions, although different for each of us, have a commonality in that they are the true and real language of the soul; of life itself.

A beautiful story is told of a young man who spent many years studying Torah and Talmud, he even dabbled a little into Kaballa, the mystical and esoteric aspects of our faith. One day he ran out from the study hall into the street; he was hysterical. “I refuse to learn another word until someone, anyone will explain to me the meaning of it all”.

After many years of learning and devotion, he was left with more questions than answers.

No one in his town was able to help him, no one had the answer to his question. One of his closest friends feeling his pain and how distraught he was, accompanied him on a length journey to visit a wise rabbi in hope of finding reprieve for his friend; an answer to put his aching heart to rest.

When they reached the town they proceeded to the rabbis house to find him immersed in study. “What is the meaning of all this?” cried out the young perturbed student. “Rabbi, please tell me the answer, as I can find no rest.”

The Rabbi looked at him, for a moment the pain of this young man was mirrored in the eyes of the rabbi, who then began to smile and gave the young man a soft smack on the cheek. “Why have you hit me rabbi, why have you not answered my question?” The rabbi looked at the young man for a short while and then said to him, “you have such an incredible question, why spoil it with an answer”.

The rabbi’s response sums it all up in just one sentence. What unites the Jewish nation is our questions, what separates us is our answers.

This year let us take a moment to consider our questions, let us take a moment to be bothered about them, to be clear about what it was and what it is that brings us back to the Synagogue each year. Let us begin our journey towards the answers by uniting in our questions.

With prayers and wishes that we all be inscribed and sealed in the book of long life and health to enjoy it.

G’Mar Chatima Tova


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