Yom Kippur Thoughts

Today is Yom Kippur, and so I thought I would share you some thoughts related to High Holiday Services… and such. Normally, our congregation has two adult services: early and late. Because trying to get the rest of the family out “early” to anything is difficult, we had tickets for the late services last year. This year, they combined the adult service into the single “late” service… which we went to for Erev Rosh Hashana. For the rest of the services, we went to the “early” service… which was the family service, for families with kids 8 and under.

Guess what. We liked it. No parking problems, you could find a seat up front, and the service was only an hour. So there are kids running around. That’s the future of Judaism!

So, as I normally talk about our sermons, you get the “kids” sermons (yes, we did hear one adult sermon on Erev RH — you can read it here):

  • On Rosh Hashanah morning, Rabbi Shawna spoke about why the rams horn was chosen to be the instrument for the shofar. This was after a number of percussive approaches (banging rocks) were dismissed, and instruments made of materials of war (metals) were ruled out.
  • On Erev Yom Kippur, Rabbi Shawna provided a story about a girl who had to pound nails into a wall whenever she lost her temper. After she learned how to control her temper, she removed a nail for every day she was calm. But the holes remained, showing that the damage from the words we use often remains even after we apologize.
  • This morning (Yom Kippur), Rabbi Lutz told a story about a man lost in the woods for Yom Kippur, who simply recited the Hebrew alphabet, on the basis that God could form them into the prayers he needs to hear.

Nice sermons, and nice services.

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Of course, while this was going on, we had Iran’s speech in the UN. I find it hard that the UN is permitting someone to speak who is denying the current and future existence of one of the UN’s member nations. I wonder how much of the tension in the Middle East would go down if there was simple recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a nation. Of course, the problem likely isn’t Israel’s existence as a nation, but it’s existence as a Jewish nation. These same nations, however, have no problem being explicitly Islamic nations. They also have no problems hating Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish nation.

This was highlighted to me when I was reading about Egypt’s reaction to President Obama’s speech yesterday:

“Egypt respects freedom of expression,” said Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood movement once banned by the U.S.-backed secular dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. But “not a freedom of expression that targets a specific religion or a specific culture.”

On the surface, this might make the Internet more civilized. Let’s prohibit hate speech against religions and cultures. No hate speech against Islam. None against Christianity. None against Jews. Wait… what was that last one? I wonder if these nations that are protesting anti-Islam videos would be willing to take down the equivalent material promoting hatred against Jews? Probably not.  Especially not on sites out of government control.

Free Speech … and limitations on speech … go both ways. If you want to have free speech and the ability to spew what you want, then sometimes you hear things you don’t like. Be an adult and ignore them. Don’t let them make holes that never heal. Of course, it would be great if people learned not to spew hate speech in the first place. This is something adults learn to do. But some people remain children, and spew things without thinking of their impact on others. They say I’m sorry after the fact, but that doesn’t undo the damage.

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Children’s services. Perhaps they aren’t just for children anymore.

G’mar chatima tova.

Music: Say Darling (1958 Original Cast): Something’s Always Happening On The River