These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Yom Kippur Wrap

Posted on October 9, 2011 by Shibley

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I will be the first to admit that Yom Kippur is one of my favorite days of the year. Between the liturgical poetry, the beautiful nusach, and the freedom from caring about my appearance, or physical sustenance, the experience is a catharsis of emotions and senses.

Even with all of the positives, I found myself doubled over the chair in front of me as neilah (closing service) headed toward its conclusion. This year, I decided to stand for as much of Yom Kippur as possible. I believe that the tfillot are more participatory and experiential than any other day of the year, and I was trying to take advantage of that element. I wanted to make an attempt to stand before Gd, since if I was in court I certainly wouldn’t be sitting as I plead for my fate. I also saw it as a method by which I could afflict myself just a little bit further.

Back to being doubled over the chair. The standing on very hard stone floors, coupled with the lack of food and water were taking a small toll on my body. My back was aching, knees sore, head seeming to float slightly on my shoulders, tears in the corners of my eyes. However, the harder I davened, the more the discomfort abated, or became less noticeable. Once neilah was completed and maariv began, all of those aches returned.

I do not claim to have found the secret to prayer. But the task now becomes taking that full body experience into all of my davening, and by extension our davening. Any ideas?

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