Saturday, October 11, 2008

Take with you d'varim! - a follow-up!

I often have a strange feeling at the end of Yom Kippur. Of course, I am overjoyed at the feeling that our prayers have been heard and that our sins have been forgiven. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 425:1), in the gloss of the ReMa (Rabbi Moshe Isserless), that is is a mitzvah to begin bulding our sukkah as soon as the fast ends, in order not to pass over a mitzvah that comes to hand. This is surely a beautiful concept, and amongs its messages is the one that Yom Kippur is not an end, but a means to continue our relationship with God and mitzvot. However, this still leaves me with one issue - How do we ensure that the process of self-introspection and reflection that we have just gone through is not forgotten, and that do not forget the steps and prayers in which we were immersed in order to improve our behavior and actions?

When I was in Israel on Nativ, I was introduced to an amazing Machzor which has forever altered my High Holiday experience. Named ממך אליך (Mimcha Eilecha - 'From You, To You'), it's concept is brilliant - to provide a complete, traditional text surrounded by a plethora of traditional and modern commentaries, with everything from traditional, medieval and hassidic texts to modern poetry and short stories. Although it sounds like a lofty goal, I would love to see if anyone would publish a similar set in Emglish: a complete traditional Hebrew text, a translation that is faithful to the original, and texts to complement it from every corner of the Jewish experience, spanning time, place and outlook. While I do find the traditional liturgy and especially the piyutim (poems which complement the structured prayers) very meaningful, the readings and quotes in this Machzor have helped to enhance the meaning of my Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur experience.

On the final page of the Yom Kippur Musaf service I found a short bt very meaningful quote which hearkens back to my d'var torah for Shabbat Shuvah:
קחו עמכם דברים ושובו אל ה' -את הדברים שאתם אומרים בבית הכנסת, בשעת התפילה והלימוד, אל תשאירו שם, אלא קחו את הדברים הללו עמכם גם בצאתכם משם.
"Take with you words (d'varim), and return to God" - These words which you say in the synagogue, during times of prayer and study, should not be left there, but rather should be taken with you when you leave there."
- Malbim (19th century Russia)

I feel that this quote is the perfect answer to my search. There is a reason the Yom Kippur happens once per year, as it is the pinnacle of our relationship with God. But this day was and is not an end in and of itself, but a means to impact on how we choose to live our lives each and every day. Especially on Yom Kippur, but each and every time we daven or learn, we should not leave our words and prayers in Shul, but allow them to influence our daily lives. Judaism is not meant to be just a compartment of our lives, but the essence of who we are and what we believe in.

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