I confess! I made it difficult for my father zt"l to pray on Yom Kippur in ways beyond what I already admitted in Tallit Tugging. He had prepared me for Yom Kippur 1965 by teaching me all the steps of the Yom Kippur service of the Cohen Gadol in the Temple, and we stood under his Tallit with his hands on my shoulders pointing out each step, "Do you remember? Can you picture this happening?" I was practically dancing with joy when we read, "They would escort him to his home and he would make a celebration for his friends," and my father reminding me of the young women celebrating with a dance. I thought I was released from the confines of his Tallit because of my jumping up and down. I watched him carefully wrap himself as he began the next part of the service, "All this occurred when the Temple was standing... for the ear to hear of it distresses our soul." In the span of one minute the congregation had gone from joyful celebration to mourning. It felt more like Tisha b'Av than Yom Kippur.
I lifted his tallit, peeked up, saw his tears, and whined, "Can I leave? I don't like this!" My father sat down, lifted me onto his lap, and asked, "Don't you want to be here for the Confession?" I most certainly did not! What was the point if the Cohen Gadol had already confessed for us, the Temple service was over, and we were forgiven!
His tears began to flow more than before, but they were not, as I believed, over having such an annoying son. He looked at me and smiled, and said, "These are tears of joy! Your question is as holy as the service of the Cohen Gadol, especially his preparations. Figure out what I mean before we get to the Confession. Now let me pray."
Five minutes later, I was back under his tallit, poor man, excitedly insisting, "I got it! We learned that no one was sure that this man was the right one to represent everyone on the holiest day, and that he was even less confident. His party was to celebrate that he could become the right person. We then begin our scene with tears of insecurity, perhaps even a small sense of inadequacy, and hopefully, by the time we reach the Confession we feel that we are able, as was the Cohen Gadol, to become people who are holy." My father lifted me in his arms and spun me around in joy, and said, "Thank You, God." He made me feel as if he was offering me as a gift to the Creator.
Yom Kippur is a play in two parts. We act out the Temple Service, including the parade, so that we are prepared to act out our scene, beginning with our insecurities, wondering whether we are able to repair everything in our lives, culminating in our, not Confession, but confident celebration of our capacity to repair, change, and be lifted in God's arms as I was lifted by my father.
I enjoy the second scene far more than the first. It's the scene I take with me into the coming year.
I wish all of you a year filled with such beautiful and confident moments, a year of aspiration, joyous achievement, and infinite possibility.
Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg
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