Sunday, September 23, 2007

Happy post Yom Kippur post

I hope everyone had a great Yom Kippur. I had meant to post before the big day asking forgiveness for all those I have offended or upset through this blog (and there are many of them - mostly unintentional on my part, and I hope they have forgiven me already before now, but if not...). But of course, like every year, I ran out of time.

So, please forgive me if I have offended you in any way. This blog was supposed to be fun and educational, not insulting or offensive.

juggling frogs has an excellent 'blogger's vidui' which is clever (and I wish I'd thought of it).

I was speaking to my brother who said that since they have moved house they don't have so many bikes on Yom Kippur. I remember the wikipedia entry for Yom Kippur included the following:

Over the last few decades, bicycle-riding on the empty streets has become a new "tradition" among non-secular youngsters, especially on the eve of Yom Kippur.[3] In the non-religious sector, Yom Kippur has thus become the "Festival of Bicycles" ("חג האופניים").[4]), with the sale of bicycles rising in the weeks before Yom Kippur, and companies advertising children's bicycles as "Yom Kippur specials."

But it still shocks me that this is what Israel has become. Then brother Michael pointed me to the following article, which is even more shocking:

Cross-Currents » Atonement Monopoly

At first I thought it was a joke. A Jerusalem shopping mall recently issued a glossy magazine supplement featuring its latest glitzy fashions. In the centerfold, in honor of Yom Kippur, was a Hebrew-language article entitled, “How to make it through the fast day.” Among the suggestions were the usual pre-Yom Kippur precautions: lots of water, no caffeine, many carbohydrates, and so forth.

What struck me was a sub-section called “Additional Tips for an Easy Fast.”(Free Hebrew lesson: the word for “tips” is tippim.)

It is possible, it informed us, to have a pleasant Yom Kippur even without eating. Among the best ways to take your mind off food is to watch some video, play enjoyable games like Monopoly, do some light reading, and meet with friends and family.

Don't get me wrong. I think it is wonderful that even people who don't know the diffence between monopoly and a machzor are fasting. Who knows what that can do in shamayim. We begin Yom Kippur (before even saying 'Kol Nidrei') with the words that we permit even the sinners to join us on this day in prayer. On Yom Kippur nobody is to be left out, and whatever anyone does is all for the good.

But what does it say about Israel as a Jewish country if Yom Kippur is now the 'Festival of Bicycles'? Would you find advice in any other country to watch videos on Yom Kippur?

Isn't it sad that some people spend the happiest day of the year (according to the mishna in Ta'anis) escaping from the reality of that happiness and trying to escape from the 'suffering' of the day. I know that we all watch the clock to a certain extent and count the minutes until dinner, but there are moments during davening of pure inspiration. I find it sad that all that people are left with is the suffering of the day without the joy and happiness of repentance.

I know Israel was never meant to be a 'Jewish' country. The goal of the founders was to make a secular country for Jews. The problem for them was that there were certain religious values and practices that the people were just not prepared to give up (like fasting on Yom Kippur). So what was left was less than nothing. A need for religion and ritual, with no means of expressing it and no framework.

This 'confusion' shows up in many different aspects of Israeli life. Baruch Hashem most people can't give it all up (and most do a lot more than that). But at the same time the traditional values and religious practices have been thrown out, so what is left? Bicycles.

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