Reflections On This Yom Kippur

Contributed by Gayle Goodman

We have Yom Kippur behind us now, but somehow it still stays with me. So many beautiful melodies pop up in my mind and buoy my day as I go about my normal routines. This year, I was particularly moved by the shiur with Rabbi Rosalind. I would like to further share a short but powerful poem of Yehuda Amichai that was in the study materials:

God’s Door Into the World

But through the wound in my chest
God peeks into the world

I am the door
of his dwelling.

And from S.Y. Agnon’s “The Days of Awe”: About a rabbi who was saddened when he did not know how to focus on the deep meanings behind the names for the shofar blasts after he lost the paper that contained the meanings. As he instead simply sobbed the notes, his broken heart was the “master key” to enter the palace of the Holy One.

I know that I am much more open, close, and deeply involved in prayers when I am feeling broken hearted, and these rang so true and were so moving.

As for not “getting” the text and being sad about it: I have been striving to feel more comfortable about the inevitability of making mistakes in my leyning since we came back from India. We were fortunate enough to participate in a Saturday morning service there, and I noticed that the leyners there seemed to make mistakes every line, be corrected, and go blithely forward. They didn’t even seem to be trying too hard to avoid mistakes. I was inspired.

But the day before Yom Kippur, I realized that I did not already know the parashah from previous years as I had thought and was nervous as I scrambled to learn it. I told my husband Michael about this, and he reminded me about the readings that suggested that I shouldn’t worry, that brokenness in my parashah was perhaps a way of coming closer to God.

Sure enough, I missed a trope note and got a word wrong. On the holiest day, I was able to have that opportunity.