A Drash for Yom Kippur 5773 (2012)
by Marc Mangel
Today is the day on which God answers when we call.
We are together as individuals, each uniquely different. We say the same prayers – and both individually and communally acknowledge our shortcomings.
But because we are individuals the prayers, meditations, and insights that come today with God’s answer will affect each of us differently.
But to be sure, we also share common aspirations that brought us here. We would like to be better people. We would like the world to be a better place. The purpose of Teshuvah [returning to our Godly person] is to help make this happen.
Teshuvah has two components: First, the remorse over what happened in the past. Second, the commitment to act differently. They are linked because the only test of sincere remorse is the subsequent behavior that is different.
The last Lubavitcher Rebbe said “To be contrite about the past without changing one’s behavior is a hollow gesture”
In addition to general guidelines, we need starting points for Teshuvah. Where do we find them?
We spent 7 weeks last summer in Tacoma, WA. Tacoma is located in Pierce County and the Shaliach there, Rabbi Zalman Heber, mounted a fund raising campaign for a new building. He built it as a replica of Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn and it opened in June 2012.
[An aside:] Remind Susan or me to tell you the story of the Dutch candlesticks at break fast.
The sanctuary of the Chabad House in Pierce County has 10 stained glass windows.
These windows represent the 10 campaigns that the last Rebbe organized as one way of making the world better. They are the starting points that we need:
• Tefillin [phylacteries that we are commanded to wrap around our arm and head]
• Tzdaka [usually translated as charity, but better as righteousness]
• A house full of (holy) books
• Shabbat candles
• Sanctity of the family
• Kashrut [eating kosher food]
• Love of the people Israel
These are campaigns in which each of us could be a spiritual soldier.
Imagine the Kol Tefilah Yom Kippur Experiment (KTYKE) in which each one of us took on a bit of one of the campaigns just for a week or two – or maybe even longer.
This is not hard to do, some examples are
Tefillin – if you have never put on tefillin, learn about them, or speak with one of the local rabbis to try it out
Torah – Try reading a bit of the upcoming Torah portion each day, or reading a Psalm a day, or try simply being rather than doing for just a few hours on Shabbat
A house full of holy books – buy a new holy book in hard copy or for your electronic device, or check one out of the Kol Tefilah library (but do that after sundown)
Shabbat candles– if you don’t regularly light Shabbat candles, try it for a couple of weeks
Kashrut – try to by an item with a Hecksher [a symbol that a Rabbinic authority has approved the food as meeting kosher standards] when you are grocery shopping to replace one that does not or go to Trader Joes and buy kosher meat even if it costs more
If each one of us did this for a week or two it would help us on the path to teshuvah and also bring more Godly energy into our world. And if enough of us did it long enough it would not be an experiment, but a movement – the Kol Tefilah Yom Kippur Movement and it could spread!
What about Tzdaka and Love of the Israel?
They allow us to jump start this process of Teshuvah. Imagine the power of each and every one of us sometime tomorrow gave to Tzdaka to a Jewish organization. Imagine the power of that.
Have any easy fast.