When I was a little girl, I loved Yom Kippur. We lived near a synagogue and I enjoyed the sounds of the prayers and the songs of the worshippers wafting up through the neighborhood.
I liked the quiet in our house and with no cars on the road the whole street became our playground.
My father would spend most of the day in synagogue and there was always a festive atmosphere, yet calm and peaceful. Wearing his clean and pressed white shirt with a white tallit (prayer shawl) each word from his mouth on this day was sacred.
It was perhaps the only day he wore white cloth sneakers. It is part of the tradition which requires us to walk silently, humbly.
The one thing I could not understand as a child was how I could get through the day without eating. It seemed to me one of the hardest things in the world. When the evening prayers were finished and the Holy Day completed, and worshippers marched slowly to their homes to the festive atmosphere of the holiday, I expected that now my father would run to the get something to eat.
But no. He was comfortable. He sat down at the festive table waiting for the children to sit around. With supreme serenity he pours each of us a cup of tea, adds a spoonful of sugar and sets down a piece of cake. And slowly he eats little bites from the cake savoring every sip of the tea. Leisurely, with pleasure as though he has risen above this present world.
The day after
This is what I think about when I imagine the day after corona. The day we will be reborn back to ordinary life after a long time of fasting from so much of our normal lives and from those things we have grown so accustomed to having.
I hope that on the day after we will know how to receive what we have in a better way. More slowly, with pleasure and exaltation. With a sense of appreciation of what we have and not just what’s missing.
Can we give up our need to amass our possessions, which often comes out of fear that we might not have? Can we learn to live with proper proportions? A share that suits us? On the day after will we measure our words? Our reactions?
Will we see the world differently? Each other? How will we evaluate life? Our own lives?
The day is coming, and I hope we will walk into it as though we have come up out of the waters of baptism. Pure. Holy. Quiet. Humble. And mostly with a restored faith and deeper love.
Let’s enter the day after as though we are sitting down to tea and cake whose taste after fasting is just heavenly.