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My first meaningful Yom Kippur

daveningFor many people including me Yom Kippur is one of the most dreaded days of the year. As someone who cant even sit through all of shul on shabbos, Yom Kippur is one of the closest things to hell on earth for me. The repetitive prayers that seem like they will never end and when they finally end, its not time for Kiddush, its time for another viduy clopping or slichos or something that begs forgiveness from the almighty and powerful lord who knows that I am full of crap anyway, I know I am going to do all these sins again, most probably right when I get home.

Countless Yom Kippurs have gone by that didnt mean anything to me, I can remember promising God that I would throw away my porno collection, only to buy a whole new one 2 weeks later (it was never planned but I am sure God knew) and all those Yom Kippurs I promised God I would start going to shul every day and making zman krias shema and being dan lkav zchus and all that good interpersonal mussary type of stuff only to royally screw up on my first day.

I have struggled for years with Yom Kippur and the concept of repentance for things I didnt regret and would do again with fervor, I felt like such a moron in this sea of people crying out to be forgiven, while I was faking, was I the only one faking? Or were other people asking these same questions. One year I decided to ask someone the question of whether or not it was worth it to beg for forgiveness for something I had enjoyed and would do again, for many reasons I dont really succumb to guilty feelings I like to do things that seem right, but guilt never gets to me, mussar and chassidus definitely work for me though.

The person who I asked this to, explained that Yom Kippur wasnt the same for everyone, for people like me it could be davening so you could someday be on the level that Yom Kippur was not so abstract, or on the level where you could ask for forgiveness. It was interesting and helped me out in many ways. I still hated Yom Kippur and the only reason why Rosh Hashanah was bearable was because I could think about all the brisket and tzimis I would eat while sticking it out through shofar.

I cannot tell you exactly what happened for I still do not know, but this was the first Yom Kippur that I stayed in shul the entire time. It was also the first Yom Kippur that I enjoyed davening and wished there was more and it was my first time standing for of Neila. For those who know me well, you know that this is next to impossible yet it was so easy and went by so fast its inexplicable.

It may have been the fact I paid for my seat, which was wedged between two people, but one of them agreed to let me have the end seat next to a library of seforim with some good mussar books for me to read during repetition parts. It may have been the fact that I havent had the pleasure of davening in real yeshivish minyanim as of late and I miss them so (based on the readers assumptions one may come to believe that I have some sort of disdain for the yeshivish community but the yeshivish community is actually the sect of Judaism I like most) yeshivish minyanim are my favorites and especially in a setting where I can wear what I want and dont get stared at.

This year also marked the first time I davened for clarity and for God to give me emunah and bitachon, I really didnt daven at all for monetary needs (regardless of the fact I am jobless and have to find something soon) it was kind of interesting actually normally davening for things is concrete but this year it was very abstract. I cant say I was thinking God the whole time I thought of some great posts during shul and thought about where I could do shows and where I would hike or bike in the next few days I also thought of fall foliage and the upcoming winter root vegetable season. I also thought about where I would spend simchas torah, thanksgiving and the first snow storm ski days.

I would like to thank Eli Gray whos copy of Derech Hashem I read during shul to give me chizuk. I am not sure if he was at Rabbi Groeners for shul, but he came up to me a few weeks ago during shiur to say he was a fan. I would also like to extend a big yasher koach to Rabbi Groener for an amazing spiritually uplifting davening.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • StL Sam September 28, 2009, 9:23 PM


    and yom kippur is torture for me

  • Mike In Midwood September 28, 2009, 11:31 PM

    I enjoyed this yom kippur after dreading that it would be like last years, I am giving all the credit to the minayn I was in it was a pleasure to daven with them.

  • FrumCurious September 29, 2009, 12:47 AM

    I won’t lie.

    I thought about my next cycling route, ha ha.

    Great post!

  • s(b.) September 29, 2009, 1:00 AM

    glad you had a meaningful one. i hear you, re: clarity and other stuff, despite needing parnassa. better days ahead.

  • jelen September 29, 2009, 1:42 AM

    YK at beth shalom was not too special for me this year, but i must say that the very end of neila when you’re hollering “hashem hu haelokim seven times” gets me every time.

  • eyekanspel September 29, 2009, 10:32 AM

    Funny hesh, but I had the same experience this Yom Kippur. I sat through all the davening for the first time, and actually felt connected to it (I even cried my fair share). I also stood for all of Neilah, which I have never done before. I didn’t look at the clock much, and the time actually flew by. The saddest part was when the baal tefilah, a young guy who lost his wife this year, choked up while reading the part about who will live and who will die…
    On a side note Heshy, we have got to invent something that makes it easier to stand for huge lengths of time (for fat people like me…I’m not really fat but I am over 200 pounds…). We’d be rich!

  • busted September 29, 2009, 10:23 PM

    Sorry mike…

    But do tell me, how is “mike from midwood” not hiding…

    and I think you are gay.

    (I just wanted to give you some more fodder. Sorry.)

  • Anonymous October 1, 2009, 1:19 PM

    You should read In Forest Fields by Rav Shalom Arush — there’s a lot in there about the kinds of things you’re talking about, like praying for emunah vs. worldly things and so on. I highly recommend it!

    I know what you mean about trying to do tshuvah about something you’re going to do again anyway. It’s possible to get past that point — it just takes a lot of prayer and prayer-assisted willpower.

    It often happens to me that when I do tshuvah and pray to stop doing a certain thing, really intending to do better, the first thing I do is go do it again right afterward (losing my temper is my biggest example, something I never knew I had a problem with until I got married). But actually this makes sense, according to Rebbe Nachman’s teaching that as soon as you start to do something good, obstacles come up in your path, and you won’t always successfully pass them, but the point is to keep going and constantly try to make a fresh beginning and don’t get discouraged or lose faith.

  • John October 2, 2009, 4:49 PM

    eyekanspel, r u in landers?

  • lisanoor October 2, 2009, 5:03 PM

    I’m with eyekanspel… the standing is murder! I only weigh 95lbs. but it’s still a killer!

  • Puzzled October 4, 2009, 9:31 PM

    So I davened for the amud this year (and could perhaps win a prize for baal tefilla most different from the shul in terms of philosophy) and found it really was not good for my concentration or meaningfullness. Even worse, you’re either worrying about the notes you didn’t hit right or taking pride when it is going correctly.

    Oh, and I always have issues with readings or prayers that I have no good way to explain to myself philosophically – 10 martyrs being a good example.

    How come Nathan’s rebuke of David never appears as a haftorah? I think it would be great for somewhere in the High Holidays.

  • eyekanspel October 5, 2009, 10:28 PM

    John, I was going to ask how you knew that, but after re-reading my previous post it became pretty obvious. Were you also there for Yom Kippur?

  • Mama September 15, 2010, 11:32 PM

    I Love Yom Kippur! It’s nothing like Tisha b’Av

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