The view from my veranda

Yom haKippurim 5771


16th September 2010.

The time for reflection is over and the time to beg forgiveness is upon us. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

If I have at any time offended you, albeit unintentionally, please forgive me

Forgive me for hasty judgement of our enemies, and for pre-judging people for their apparent alignments rather than their beliefs.

Forgive me for judging people by my standards and not their own.

Forgive me for expressing anger at our enemies rather than seeking solutions and anger at those who do nothing to defend themselves, ourselves or Israel. I sometimes forget that G-d understands human nature far better than I, He is slow to anger and does not expect the bigot to become lenient, the felon to reform or the killer to love, overnight.

Forgive me for not saying thank you enough. Thank you for friendship, loyalty to Israel, kindnesses; thank you for standing up to those who denigrate our amazing Israel.

We in turn have to forgive those who spoke untruths, scandal and hearsay about those we love and the country we love, if they are conscious enough to ask our forgiveness and thank G-d for true friends.

Praying for forgiveness and beating our chests it is not enough. Chanting is meaningless unless our prayers include the will to transform ourselves into better human beings and our world into a better world.

An awesome quiet will fall over the entire country, marking the uniqueness of this day. No cars, buses, trains, motor cycles; even the uge cement factory of Ramleh is open just 364 days a year. The only sounds to break the silence are the whoops of children as they cycle down empty roads and of course the ever diligent ambulances and doctors who are on call even on Yom Kippur. Homes attain an unfamiliar but welcome quiet as the television stations fall into silence too.

It was this silence that was broken by the sounds of telephones, whispered orders and cars in 1973, the Yom Kippur War broke out. Men in prayer shawls ran home to change into IDF uniform to fight an even higher cause – the survival of the State of Israel. Israel’s neighbours attacked relying upon our unreadiness as a nation at prayer not at war. Maybe our fervent supplications were sufficient for Him to heed our prayers or maybe He was angry at our attackers for intruding upon on this Holy Day with their fanatical aggression, but we won that war. So while asking forgiveness, thank G-d for giving us the strength to fight for the State of Israel. 

Just as Anwar Sadat waged war on Israel on Yom Kippur 1973 then bravely came to Jerusalem to speak before the Knesset, arm in arm with his former arch–enemy Menachem Begin, to create a lasting peace, so I pray that this coming year 5771 of the Jewish calendar we will see our enemies declare peace not war and finally recognize us as a Jewish State.

Gmar Chatima Tova