SERVICE TIMES FOR YOM KIPPUR AND SUKKOS - see below
Question of the Week:
I think I can give Yom Kippur a miss this year. I know it is supposed to cleanse your soul, but I was thinking, I'm really not so dirty. I didn't rob a bank, I am not a mass murderer. Over all I am a decent and honest person. If I haven't done any major sins do I need to fast on Yom Kippur too?
What do you say about the freak dust storm in Sydney this week? The entire city was covered by a huge blanket of dust, blown in by unusually high winds. Flights were cancelled, highways closed, schools evacuated, and people were coughing and spluttering all over the place. Now the storm has passed, but the whole town is filthy.
Meteorologists are dumbfounded. No one has seen anything like it before, and no one saw it coming. But I think it is perfect timing. A dust storm is just what we needed to see now, a few days before Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur is a day of spiritual cleansing. Every immoral act is a stain on our soul, and on this day it gets wiped clean. We look back at the year that went by and analyse our actions, trying to identify the things we have done wrong. Through fasting, deep prayer and a true inner turnaround, we clean off the stains and regain our purity.
But many of us feel that we have little to regret. We make the mistake of thinking that if we haven't murdered anyone, if we haven't committed any big sins, we are fine. The truth is, it's not only the big evils that need to be cleansed on Yom Kippur. There is a far more pervasive evil that needs our attention. Not the big blotches on our soul, but the little specks of dust.
There is a spiritual dust that accumulates in our souls. This is the dust of little evils, those seemingly harmless acts that are in fact very damaging. We tend not to take these minor transgressions so seriously, but we should.
You may not be a murderer, but have you never participated in a character assassination? Deriding or disparaging someone, either to their face or behind their back, is not murder, but it is the dust of murder.
You are not a liar, but you may have on occasion massaged the truth to protect your own pride, or adjusted a story to suit yourself. You may have never robbed a bank, but it is perceivable that you may have cut corners here and there in your business, and made money through slightly deceptive means.
These are not dramatic acts of evil, they are the dust of evil, simple ordinary activities that many of us fall for every day. A speck of dust may seem completely insignificant. But as we witnessed in Sydney this week, when millions, billions and trillions of such particles move together they can bring an entire city to a standstill.
So too with the dust of evil. A tiny bit of gossip here, a little joke there, a small stretch of the truth over there - in isolation they seem trivial and harmless, but every bad word said is another speck of dust. Over time they accumulate to create a thick cloud of darkness over our soul.
So now is time to clean up. Apologise to those you have hurt, and ask G-d to wipe away the thick layer of dust that has built up over your soul. And remember, if little specks of dust can cause such darkness, imagine what little sparks of goodness can do.
Good Shabbos and Gmar Chasima Tova - an easy fast and a year of blessing, Rabbi Moss