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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Hashem Elokeinu’

Yom Kippur

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Even Moses, who spoke with God one on One, was not allowed to see Him during his lifetime. “You cannot see my face, for no man shall see me and live.”

Ultimately, we shall all see God one on one, and face not only Him but also ourselves and the lives we led. Our desire to see Him will then be consummated and His existence will be proven beyond all doubt, but our ability to repent and prepare ourselves for that Day of Judgment will have passed.

And so one day a year God gives us the opportunity to come as close to Him as humanly possible and still repent. Yom Kippur is a dress rehearsal of sorts. We wear the shrouds in which we will ultimately face Him, and we discard the shoes we will no longer need. We don’t eat, drink or bathe as we stand alone before Him. We crowd the synagogue, just as the throngs of Israelites crowded the Temple, praying, fasting and waiting with bated breath for the High Priest to successfully complete the Yom Kippur Temple Service. For if the High Priest does not survive the day, Israel might not survive the year.

And before the silent and anxious crowd, the High Priest walks the tightrope between life and death from dawn to dusk. One procedural slip in the Temple service and it will be all over, just as it was for Aaron’s sons whose bodies had to be retrieved from the Holy of Holies. The High Priest’s task is not easy and the stakes are high. Single-handedly he has to juggle the performance of the daily Temple service and the special Yom Kippur service, darting as he does so back and forth between the Holy of Holies, the Temple Sanctuary and the Temple Courtyard.

Fifteen sacrifices, (two lambs for the daily sacrifice, one bullock, one ram and seven lambs for the Mussaf sacrifice, one bullock for the priests’ atonement, one ram for the people’s burnt offering, one he-goat for the people’s atonement and, finally, the scapegoat which is sent to die in the wilderness) have to be slaughtered and offered up by the High Priest on Yom Kippur.

The High Priest must, among other things, sprinkle the sacrificial blood on the altars, offer up the incense, burn the limbs of the animals on the altar, prepare the Sanctuary lamps for lighting, offer up the baked cakes of the High Priest, pour the drink offerings, confess his own, his family’s and the priests’ sins, cast lots for the two he-goats, tie a crimson ribbon on the head of the scapegoat, pray for the welfare of the people, confess their sins and read to them from the Torah.

Each of the five times the High Priest enters the Holy of Holies to perform the Yom Kippur service he must change out of his routine gold garments into his Yom Kippur white garments so as not to remind God of the sin of the golden calf. Each time the High Priest enters the Temple Sanctuary or Temple Courtyard to perform the daily Temple service, he must change back into his gold garments. And between each change of garments he must wash his hands and feet and then immerse himself in the cold waters of the Temple ritual bath.

The precision required and the time constraints imposed make the High Priest’s task almost humanly impossible. Indeed, according to the Midrash’s interpretation of Leviticus 16:17, when entering the Holy of Holies the High Priest was temporarily transformed into a ministering angel. We are told that when the High Priest finally emerged from the Holy of Holies, alive and well and having successfully completed his mission, he was swept up by the waiting crowds who celebrated with him deep into the night.

The Midrash relates that during Moses’s 40-day visit to the mountain of God, he overheard and memorized the angels’ secret prayer “Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuto Leolam Vaed” – “blessed is the name of His Glorious Kingdom forever.” When Moses returned to the Jews he taught them the prayer but cautioned them to utter it under their breath so that the angels would not detect the infringement. On Yom Kippur, however, when we most closely resemble angels, we are asked to recite this prayer out loud.

Perfect

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Daven brachos.

I hardly knew where the thought came from. I was lying in bed, so weak I could not move, too tired to contemplate getting up. But it’s better to say brachos lying down then not to say them at all.

It came out as a mumble, words that the tongue knew from childhood, mumbling from my mouth without my knowledge.

And then – She’asani kirtzono. I heard the words coming out of my mouth. They tickled my brain and touched my mind. Baruch ata Hashem Elokeinu melech ha’olam, she’asani kirtzono.

I’m sitting with my sister in the car, driving down the highway. The window is open, and her hair streams out behind her, wild and carefree. These are happy moments, moments when we let go, when we lose our shared pain, and share the thoughts that only our minds can know.

Mental illness runs in the family.

We are sisters, with our own brand of closeness. I understand her mind and she understands mine.

She turns the radio down, closes the window, and runs her left hand through her hair as her right smoothly grips the wheel. She speaks in a relaxed, speculative voice in the sudden quiet.

“You know… when I say she’asani kirtzono, it means to me- that no matter what my mind is, no matter what my struggles are- I have to thank Hashem for making me just that way – however I am; it’s a statement that He made me exactly according to His will.”

I stare at my big sister. Something resonates within me, drops into my stomach, carries a sense of… peace… through my being. To thank You, Hashem, our God, for creating me… according to Your will.

There is a tang in the air between us, an agony shared and known to both, that no one else might ever know as well. To know that your own mind can be your worst enemy, and to have to struggle with it… every day. Anxiety. Depression. Thoughts that you think are yours but come from the Demon within. A life perpetually confusing, challenging, and…painful, oh so painful.

But here, in the car, we sit in this shared silence, and we know, for the moment…

He has created me according to His will.

Lying on my pillow, the thought flashes through me-

It seems almost strange, it was so long ago – but in another lifetime, many years ago, these words bothered me. Why does a man thank God for the privilege of his extra mitzvos and we are left to humbly accept; “for He made me according to His will”…? It seemed so unfair… the whole thing felt so unfair!

That was a different lifetime.

In this lifetime, philosophical questions were a thing of the past, existential angst a joke, a laugh. Who had a head for philosophy? Who had a head for having a head? It was all I could do to hold onto myself, to keep myself alive, to struggle through each day and retain my identity. I would have traded all the questions and all the answers for one simple day of….

Peace of mind.

When Daniella told me what the words meant to her, that’s all it was.

No baggage, no fear of connotations of inferiority, no nagging sense of injustice. Years of pain and oblivion had wiped the slate free of…anything. Words were simply words. And now they meant…

This.

We sat there in the car, sharing in the silence, as only sisters like us could.

The lips had ceased their mumbling. I lay immobile, head pressed into the pillow, letting the words trickle through my mind again.

Blessed… are You, Hashem… our God, King of the world… for creating me according to His will.

I lay there on the pillow, no strength to move, and felt the remembrance of meaning touch my soul. It had been so many years since I had thought…anything. My mind was gone, and my heart was gone, and it felt to me that even my soul was gone. But the words touched me, somewhere, a tingle of a thought once thought, a shared moment of peace.

For He has made me… according to His will.

This- this useless mind, this sick brain, the terrible monster within me that makes each day inside myself a living hell-

His will.

I lay there on the pillow, and I cried, and I pushed my face into the softness to stop the tears, for it was Shabbos, and I should not cry…

And I felt a surge of pity for all the men trapped within their own minds, for they cannot say “she’asani kirtzono”…

But I, I know, for I can say; I am all, completely – every sick, useless part of me, according to His will

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/teens-twenties/perfect/2012/02/07/

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