By the time you read this, we will be enjoying Sukkot and getting ready for Simchat Torah — my favorite holiday.
We each have favorites (even though we enjoy and celebrate all) and personal reasons for those choices. Right after Yom Kippur, I read in Tablet Magazine an article I had to share — or at least the first two paragraphs. Etgar Keret wrote about atoning for a lie he told when he was 4 years old.
The point of the story was that it is never too late, an important lesson especially after Yom Kippur. We don’t need to wait until next year to apologize. However, I am sharing his words here because his opening sums up why Yom Kippur is his favorite. It is a message that will make us think all year long. So here is Etgar Keret Sept. 30, 2014 Tablet Magazine article titled “It’s Never Too Late to Atone?
“Yom Kippur was always my favorite holiday. Even in nursery school, when all the other kids liked Purim because of the costumes, Hanukkah because of the latkes, and Passover because of the long vacation, I was hooked on Yom Kippur. If holidays were like kids, I once thought when I was still a boy, then Purim and Hanukkah would be the most popular in class, Rosh Hashanah would be the most beautiful, and Yom Kippur would be a kind of weirdo, a loner, but the most interesting of all.
“When I think about that now, ‘a kind of weirdo, a loner, but the most interesting of all’ is exactly how I saw myself then, so maybe the real reason I loved Yom Kippur so much is that I thought it was like me. The thing is that even though I’m not a kind of weirdo anymore, definitely not a loner, and grown-up enough now to understand that I’m not the most interesting, I’m still in love with that holiday.
Maybe it’s because Yom Kippur is the only holiday I know that, because of its very nature, recognizes human weakness. If on Passover, Moses and God settled accounts with the Egyptians, on Hanukkah Judah Maccabee beat the crap out of the Greeks, and on Israeli Independence Day we fought bravely against the Arabs and won our country, on Yom Kippur we’re not a heroic dynasty or a people, but a collection of individuals who look in the mirror, are ashamed of what demands shame, and ask forgiveness for what can be forgiven.
“And maybe that was actually the quality that attracted me to Yom Kippur from the very beginning, that it is the most private of all our holidays, a day when you stand alone before your deeds and their consequences without TV, without bustling cafés and restaurants, without stores crammed with merchandise, without all the rest of the day-to-day noise that makes them more palatable.
“It’s the holiday when you come face to face with your life as it is, and there’s no stupid reality show to divert your attention, no news updates, no chocolate-chip ice cream cone to offer you some consolation.”