Words on fasting at Yom Kippur
Commentary from our in-house rabbi organizer, Rabbi Elizabeth Richman, on the significance of fasting for Yom Kippur:
For a community devoted to justice, it's hard to improve on the words from Isaiah 58 that we read on Yom Kippur morning. Isaiah presents us with a very Jewish paradox: while the rules are clear that we're supposed to fast on Yom Kippur, one of our sacred readings for the day tell us that fasting is actually a very insufficient step toward true teshuvah (repentance and renewal).
Fasting helps us concentrate and turn our focus inward, but when we finally arrive at that inward place we're told loudly and clearly that true teshuvah is about turning back outward and acting for justice, not about fasting. Fasting just helps us get to the point where we can reflect, without our usual distractions, on what role we've played in either helping or hindering the spread of justice in our relationships, our communities, and our world. From Isaiah 58:
This is the fast I desire:
To unlock the bonds of wickedness, and untie the cords of bondage,
To let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke.
It is to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the poor into your home,
When you see the naked to clothe them, and not to ignore your own kin.
Wishing us all a day of deep inward reflection that leads us back outward to renewed commitment!