Sunday, October 1, 2006

9 Tishri 5767 * 1 October 2006: World Vegetarian Day


Note: Starting at sundown is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. There are a number of behaviors that are to be avoided because they are prohibited on Yom Kippur (arguably weird since they largely ought to be obvious) but which the uneducated often fail in:
  • Driving to synagogue. This is a Biblical prohibition, while praying at synagogue is Rabbinic in origin and not even clearly an obligation. In case of conflict between the two, Biblical prohibitions always override Rabbinic obligations, so if you cannot walk to synagogue without risk to your health, do yourself a favor and stay home; it is pretty clear from the Hebrew Bible that YHWH cares about you and wants you to keep His/Her basic commandments (including not performing any mela’khoth on Yom Kippur) and does not want you to violate them in order to perform ritual niceties. (If this is true for sacrifices, which are Biblical commandments, how much more so must it be true for public prayer, which is Rabbinic!)
  • Wearing leather shoes. Yom Kippur is a day of extreme holiness, during which it is as if we are standing before YHWH Him/Herself. Since under conditions of extreme holiness (e.g., in the Temple) one is not permitted to wear leather shoes, wearing leather shoes is prohibited on Yom Kippur, so make sure you wear (leather-free) sneakers or canvas shoes or something along those lines.
  • Wearing jewelry or perfume. Yom Kippur is a day to get closer to YHWH. While showing respect to the King of Kings of Kings makes wearing something formal a good idea, jewelry and perfume are luxury items and are mainly to impress other humans and are thus too ostentatious for the occasion. Yom Kippur is a day of judgement, and while YHWH is a forgiving god, going into court with luxury items is a good way to advertise having the wrong set of priorities, which argues against one’s deserving of forgiveness. Not to mention that some people are sensitive to perfume; it is a bad idea to be needlessly annoying others when asking for forgiveness.
  • Conversation during services. Yom Kippur is a day dedicated to repentance and forgiveness, an opportunity given to us by YHWH to get closer to Him/Her. However, YHWH gave humans only one mouth each, so if you are talking to the person next to you, you cannot be asking YHWH for forgiveness at the same time and are thus missing the point of the holiday. Plus, talking during services is annoying to those who are trying to pray, also missing the point of the holiday. If you must talk at all during services in any way, shape, or form that is not prayer or necessary for proper prayer, please, let it be to ask someone for forgiveness for some wrong. Remember, the ideal state of things that we want to reach is that all humanity should become one big, happy family with whom YHWH is happy; we are not going to reach this state by talking about sports.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is Lifeboat Foundation: Safeguarding Humanity. May it be YHWH’s will that this organization’s efforts turn out never to be needed. Enjoy, and have an easy fast.

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