Yom Kippur is hard. Yeah, the fasting is no fun, and there’s a lot of time spent on one’s feet (or sitting on hard pews, if you happen not to be the rabbi). The liturgy is heavy, and the realization of how far we have to go to be the people we want to be is often flat out overwhelming. But that’s not the hardest part, for me.
The hardest part is that, even uttered in holy space before a divine audience, the promises I make don’t feel binding. Not that I’m just giving lip service – it’s not that at all. It’s more that the God I believe in, the God to whom I address myself on these Holy Days – and others that are holy in different ways – is a Friend, a Mentor, a Guide and Loving Supporter. God understands my intent, but also knows the extenuating circumstances that get in the way sometimes, too. I guess I feel God might be disappointed by something I would (or wouldn’t) do, but God wouldn’t be devastated. We’d get through it.
This had been going through my head in these days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. And then, while driving one day, I hear the boy from the backseat: “Mommy, you don’t text while you’re driving, do you?” (We must have passed a PSA billboard. #lifechangeswhentheycanread)
Suddenly, I was thrust into soul-searching, and I settled on honesty. “I have texted while driving, yes. But I know it’s wrong. I shouldn’t do it, and I promise I won’t anymore.”
A pause, and then: “OK.”
“Al chet shechatati l’fanecha … for the sin I have committed before you, I’m truly sorry and promise to do better.” And with this audience, there are no excuses.