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The key word is repentance. This is how Rabbi Rubén Saferstein , professor of history at the ORT, and an outstanding member of the Judeo-Argentinean community defined the meaning of the High Jewish Festivals.Between Rosh Hashanah (New Year 5781) and Yom Kippur (Day of Forgiveness) , from September 18 to sunset to 28 with sunset, are ten days where women and men meet with faith and love to “repair daily offenses and misunderstandings” In times of distancing a message of approaching for future days.
Ruben Saferstein: From the New Year to the Day of Forgiveness are hours of reflection and repentance. Days of response to God. One makes an introspection of the acts performed during the year, which is why the New Year is also called “Judgment Day”. This sets it apart from December 31 from the Gregorian calendar. We do not throw rockets or do parties, but they are days of silence and thought although at assorted family tables.
By thinking, we help each other with a Book of New Year's Prayers and the Day of Forgiveness called Majzor . In the first part it also includes the supplication that we are inscribed in the Book of Full Life. That is why you can greet on New Year with the “I wish you a Good Firm”. Then, on the Day of Forgiveness, we pray for that signature to be initialled.
RS: These are different prayers. Well known among us, one of them is a very hard one and accompanies the traditional Kol Nidre . This prayer was written by a German rabbi from the Middle Ages who was tortured and flagellated forced to leave his faith. Mortally wounded writes a reflection on God's verdict. And ask, who's going to live? Who's going to die? Who is going to have a disease? Who will die old? Who will live with dignity? He ends by saying that repentance, prayer, and a life within justice, attenuate the verdict. Thus the word repentance emerges key on these dates.
I explain to my students that these ten days are very special to resume a relationship with others. Whether they are Jews or Christians, parents and children, brothers and siblings, friends or partners, we all have differences and, pandemic through, it is a good time to apologize in a cafe, or via streaming. These sacred dates speak of rapprochement and not of distancing. And they talk about the repair of daily offenses and misunderstandings .
RS: These are days of much reading of the Bible, especially of the Pentateuch and the Book of Prophets.For example, at noon on the Day of Forgiveness we resumed the prophet Isaiah's reading, chapter 57 and 58. There we reflect on the sense of fasting of twenty-four hours right at the time we start to be hungry. Isaiah does not criticize fasting in act but hypocrisy. And how social classes, and people, religiously fulfill the fast but then in the shops and industry they are engaged in scam and deceiving. The prophet rejects this hypocritical fast and urges that they distribute the bread to the hungry, or to take the needy into their homes. Let them do social justice.
Likewise, in the afternoon it is customary to read the Book of the Prophet Jonah; remember a mission God gave to the prophet to leave the people of Northern Nineveh and repent its inhabitants of mistakes and bad behavior. Like several prophets in the Bible, they at first do the opposite, and Jonah goes west. After a random trip they arrive in Nineveh and they see that people had already repented after reflecting on their bad deeds. Then the city is saved from the wrath of God. This reading teaches to take the right path of repentance. Again the key is repentance.
RS: They should help such special days but I'm not that optimistic. I hope we understand, in these months of solitary confinement, what we do wrong to get to this situation. And let's build a less selfish society, we all hope it will be a before and after, and to live in a better, more supportive, fairer society. The pandemic is so cruel socially and economically that it is a hard lesson. However, some who violate health standards seem not to understand, or do not live in community. In the line of Yom Kippur, let's reflect and think about the other.
Publication Date: 28/09/2020
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