Hacking Yom Kippur

Today was truly a special day. Beyond the crisp blue sky and perfect weather, and beyond the delicious buffet of delectable brunch food, even beyond the welcoming of a brand new Torah into our midst, and the celebration surrounding the completion of this Torah and dedicating the Chabad building, today was special because today we “hacked Yom Kippur.”

I bet you never heard about hacking Yom Kippur, so let me share with you the secret. These are original thoughts I shared at the Torah dedication, and my writing some teachings of Rabbi Shais Taub of Soulwords.org who clairvoyantly gave a Torah class on last week’s Torah portion that captured the essence of what I have been feeling and providing the sourcing for this thought.

The fact of the matter is that as we near Yom Kippur, there is a sense of dread and awe that overtakes us. I personally don’t particularly like that feeling but I understand that it is a required step that brings us to the festive part of the month, like Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

However, there is a “hack” for that. (My kids call me a boomer (as in baby boomer), even though I am too young to be a baby boomer. It is their way of telling me that I am too old to understand certain things or terms. So for the boomers out there, a “hack” is when you can find a shortcut or a work-around in a program of technology or other things that can help you circumvent that longer process and get the same thing done in a shorter amount of time.) The hack is to get to the core of what Yom Kippur is really about and then your can get to Simchas Torah without the dread of Yom Kippur. You still have to fast and do the prayer etc. but when you know the why of what you are doing and the destination that it leads to it helps lessen the intensity when you are doing it anyway.

The core of Yom Kippur, to steal the analogy from Rabbi Taub, is the serious part of the wedding, the Chuppa, when you are pensive and thoughtful and introspective, which is prelude to the exciting and celebratory part of the wedding, where the dancing and festive part happen.

One is not a contradiction to the other. In fact, the first part is necessary to get us to the second part. 

However, if you can shortcut the beginning (not cut it out, but reach Simchas Torah early, well, then while we still must observe Yom Kippur but we can feel celebratory in our hearts.

Today we did just that. We celebrated the Torah as if it was Simchas Torah, because, well, it was Simchas Torah. We took a parchment, and turned it into living breathing, healthy and kosher and functioning Torah. (For those who were there on the holiday, we talked about the leap from 0 to 1 being infinitely greater than the leap from 1 to 2.) 

For this reason, we didn’t say the tachanun (supplication) prayer today and we read the verses of Ata Horeisa as we do on Simchas Torah, and for this reason we danced with the Torah under a chupa to the sound of live music and had a full festive meal, complete with rainbow colored bagels. We invested that effort and energy because it is the only fitting way to honor the brand new Torah that joined our ranks today.

That was our “hack.” We bypassed, even if it was just for a short time the 10 days of repentance and even Yom Kippur and went straight to Simchas Torah. Sure, we will have to double back and get back in the zone and fast and do all the Yom Kippur requirements, but our souls had an actual taste of the end game, and that is Simchas Torah.

So, here is a link to a famous story where a great Jew actually bypassed Yom Kippur and went right to Simchas Torah https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3090/jewish/The-Yom-Kippur-Drunk.htm , and in our way, we did the same today, so MAZAL TOV TO US, To our local Jewish community and hacking Yom Kippur and may it truly be a year of health, happiness, and much blessing, dancing and joy for all of us.

Thanks for those who came out today and here is a linkhttps://www.facebook.com/rabbinechemia/videos/4414665961923992/  for those that missed it.


Rabbi Nechemia & Raizel Schusterman

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