Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yom Tov

The more I read, and the further I get in my study of hermeticism and the WMT (whether you want to translate that as the Western Magical or Mystical Tradition is up to you), the more I become aware of how Judaism formed and shaped me.

Despite the reassurances I’ve received from many quarters about how “its all based on Kabbalah,” the fact remains that most authors and “authorities” have been, and are Christian (or Gnostic, or Greek philosophic) in their beliefs or background. I have no problem with this. But, as fish may notice changes within the water that they swim, but most likely do not notice the water itself, most people in this society, unless deliberately raised in a non-Christian situation do not realize how influenced by Christianity the water we swim in really is.

Every now and then, I will come across a concept that is so foreign to me, that I just cannot bridge the divide. It is like reading Pride and Prejudice, or Jane Eyre, and coming to a page written in Urdu, or Sanskrit; my mind just can’t take it in. Recently, some of my blogging friends tackled the subject of guilt; this was one of the “I just don’t get it” moments. In fact, I was relieved to find that at first, Witchdoctor Joe didn’t “get it,” either. Of course, he too, is not Christian, and was raised with a consciously not-Christian upbringing.

But now, as I wait for sunset and the start of Yom Kippur to start, I think I have figured out my thoughts on the topic. It is a question for me of systemic, versus individual guilt. Not being raised within a system where my God has died for my sins, or where there is a concept of “original sin” or the idea of the “fall of man” or that creation is evil, I just don’t understand the concept of systemic guilt (I shudder at the burden placed on a small child, who having been taught that “Jesus died for you” is then faced with brussels sprouts for dinner and is told that “good children eat what is placed before them”).

Individual and specific sin and guilt are other things altogether. Humans are imperfect, that is why there is the Work. We make mistakes, hurt others, accidentally and/or intentionally. Yom Kippur is usually translated as the Day of Atonement (later, perhaps, I will post Rabbi Gershon Winkler’s comments on this), the day when all Jews are to fast and to pray and to plead that God will “write them into the book of life for the coming year.” BUT none of that will do you any good; if you haven’t gone to those that you have sinned against during the year, and asked for forgiveness. The one thing that all Jewish authorities have always agreed on is: all the fasting, all the prayer, all the breast-beating, abasement, pleading in the schul, what have you, will be a complete waste of time, unless you have made amends with your fellow humans FIRST.

So, guilt exists, but it is a specific and a human thing. As long as we are human we will have to deal with our own failings. Here, and hopefully now.

If you feel I have wronged any of you, in the last year; I offer my heartfelt apologies. It was not intentional.

May you, and your loved ones be once again written into the Book of Life.


Anonymous said...

This is an awesome post. I was raised as a Christian in only the loosest sense of the word, and never bought the myths involved, particularly the systemic sin you describe. I am not well-versed in Jewish tradition, but the annual amends of Yom Kippur sound like a mighty fine tradition to me. This teaches personal responsibility, as opposed to many Christians' personal sense of entitlement (another thing that completely boggles the mind).

I may have to adopt this holiday in some way that isn't offensive to Jews. Food for thought.

Lavanah said...

Hi, Sheta
I'm glad you liked it. I wouldn't worry about your adopting any part of this being offensive to Jews. Making amends, and making things smoother among other humans would be seen as a good thing, all around. Of course, keep in mind, that much of what I do and profess would be offensive to some other Jews-if I proclaimed it as specifically "Judaism." So mostly, I claim that its "just me."