Saturday, September 30, 2017

You Don't Have to be Jewish to Learn Something from Yom Kippur

First, my thanks to the more than 13,300 folks who read my most recent blog post. I've never had that many readers, even when I've blogged about Rush on other occasions. And I do understand that I get the most readers when I blog about Rush.  But while I love the guys and always will, there are also some other topics that interest me.  Today, I was thinking about the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), perhaps the most serious day in the Jewish religion, and one of the most widely observed.  But this isn't just a post about religion.  It's also a post about spending 24 hours without media.

Yom Kippur is a day when many Jews (even some who aren't particularly observant) refrain from eating for 24 hours; they also go to synagogue, study the sacred texts, and ask God to pardon them for the wrongs they've done in the previous year. And they also turn off their devices.  No smartphones, no tablets, no internet, and of course, no social media. That may sound horribly boring, but in actuality, it can be a very spiritual experience, and one that I recommend.  Instead of having Twitter fights over the latest silly thing that [insert name of politician here] just said; instead of posting a photo of your adorable kid (or your pet, or your new tattoo, or the amazing restaurant you just went to), you get to spend 24 hours being anonymous to the outside world, without any need for an online persona, without any need to find the right meme, or locate some arcane fact on Google.

A day without media (and especially social media) gives you a chance to humble yourself, and to appreciate what's all around you, including the everyday stuff we often take for granted. Weather permitting, you can take a walk and look at the sky or watch the birds. Since you don't have to be anywhere for a while, you can read a book, or just sit and talk with someone-- texting is not allowed, so it's an opportunity for face-to-face communication, which is often a lost art these days.  And speaking of lost arts, you can also take the time to listen--  it's amazing what you can learn just from listening.     

I used some of the time to think about forgiveness-- one of the most difficult things in life (and I admit this affects me) is letting go of being angry at certain people. On Yom Kippur, we ask for God's forgiveness, but we also have to agree to do some forgiving of our own.  We have to apologize to those we spoke harshly to, those to whom we were unkind.  I thought a lot about that: we've all had our share of petty disputes over the past year, both online and in person. Holding onto those negative emotions doesn't really solve anything, and yet so many of us still do it.  Today was a good day to agree to forgive, to agree to start over.  That was a promise I made, and I will do my best to keep it.

It was also a good day to think about gratitude-- in the high-stress, busy life most of us lead, we don't spend much time being grateful. Instead, we're tend to focus on what's going wrong:  we're upset that someone cut us off in traffic or [insert name of politician again] has just said something outrageous, or we hate our boss, or we wish everything wasn't so expensive.  Maybe we find some escape in our favorite music, or our favorite TV show, or the latest YouTube video of a dancing cat, but we don't always take the time to think about what's good in our life, rather than being irritated by what's bad.  So, I spent some time thinking about gratitude, and I probably should do that more often.

One of the things I'm grateful for is being alive. When you're a cancer survivor, as I am, it's no joke to say that every day, and ever year, is a gift.  So, I'm grateful I've made it through another year on the Jewish calendar, and hopefully, I'll still be here when the secular calendar changes to 2018.  I'm also grateful I was able to write these words-- we can all debate what freedom of speech means, but it's nice to live in a country where expressing ourselves doesn't usually result in being thrown in jail. I'm grateful to have a husband who appreciates my good points, while forgiving my faults; and I'm grateful that people, be they Rush fans or not, think my words are worth reading.

So, that's what I learned on Yom Kippur:  24 hours without food isn't as daunting as it sounds (I do it every year, and while it's sometimes a challenge, I keep thinking about people in other parts of the world who have no choice in the matter, and it puts everything in perspective). Similarly, 24 hours without media isn't so bad either-- making the time to turn off all the noise can be very fulfilling, both spiritually and otherwise.  Reading a good book, whether about religion or any other topic, is also very fulfilling.  And making time to forgive, and time be grateful-- that's worth doing on a religious holiday or any other time.  Thank you again to those who read my blog, and whether it's to find out Rush news or to engage in discussions with me about politics or media or whatever, I appreciate the opportunity; and I appreciate all of you.     

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Donna, and YES, one anybody can learn from. Great blog! Respect.

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