Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar; a day devoted to fasting and prayer with the purpose of seeking God’s forgiveness for the sins we committed in the past year.
Within the prayers, we recite several times a long confessional of 44 sins — 11 of which relate to speech, and the others covering various other acts.
Those transgressions are the symptoms. Beneath them lies a deeper sin for which we are atoning.
What causes us to lose our temper, to act out rashly, to speak harsh words to others, to gossip, to act recklessly and impulsively?
Quite simply: We forget.
We forget who we are. We forget the divinity that lies within us, and the oneness that exists among all beings. We forget about all the miracles we’ve seen in our lives and how we’ve been supported by the Divine every step of the way. We forget who we are when we are standing in our true nature.
And because we forget, we lose our faith.
Without faith that everything is happening according to a plan, we believe that when things go the opposite way of what we want, something must be “wrong.” Without faith in Divine support, we are more likely to give up and lash out when things get challenging. Without faith that God will provide us what we need, we are more likely to be unethical in business, or believe that others are gaining at our expense.
When we forget and lose faith, we do and say things that are not aligned with our true nature.
Yom Kippur is the day for teshuva, a word that means both “repentance” and — more poignantly — return.
To where are we returning?
This is homecoming day.
Yom Kippur is the day we return to the truth of who we are, to the divine embrace of God, to our ability to trust in the goodness of other people and life itself.
On Yom Kippur, we reconnect with our faith. We recall the past miracles and all that God does for us. We are reminded that we are not alone in our accomplishments, that we have been supported.
Today is the day we recommit to living and leading with love and compassion, to be a blessing in this world, to radiate the divine light.
On Yom Kippur, we take a time-out from the rest of the world and create space for God to enter. We remember who we are: children of God, created in love, and worthy of love and forgiveness.