V’al chet she-hatanu l’fanekha bil’shon ha-ra, “And for the sin we have committed before You through slander” — over the course of Yom Kippur we say these words over and over again as we recite the Viddui (Confessional) quietly to ourselves and then aloud communally. As we say them, we beat our breasts to physically hammer home the meaning of the words we say.
Few prayers are as well known to Jews as Ashamnu (“We have sinned ...”) and Al Chet (“For the sin ...”), the twin confessions of Yom Kippur. Belief in human sinfulness is more central to Judaism than we think. Sin may not be “original,” as it is in Christianity — inherited from Adam, that is, as a sort of genetic endowment ever after. But it is at least primal: It is there, patent, indelible and unavoidable. We may not be utterly depraved — the teaching with which American Protestantism grew up — but we are indeed sinners.
We have more synagogues and more freedom to use them here in Los Angeles than we did in Iran, but that doesn't mean we're any closer to fulfilling the true purpose of gathering in a house of worship.
On paper, the Rosh Hashanah ritual of Tashlich is about doffing one's sins to start the new year with a clean slate. For Jason Mauro, 16, it's also about beach football
For the second year, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has complained about the High Holy Days ritual of swinging a chicken over one's head, a sin-transference ceremony
Every year they roll around, and every year you're not quite sure what to do. Go ahead, ask us. After years of answering readers' questions, we've compiled the most frequently asked ones below:
Yom Kippur reminds me of the time I spent in couples counseling with a serious boyfriend. My boyfriend believed he could be cruel or invasive or dishonest, but as long as he copped to his "sins" once a week, he'd be absolved (especially if he used bogus touchy-feely phrases like "I'm sorry you feel that way," "I validate your experience," and "I respect your boundaries").
For The Kids
Here we go again: the Yom Kippur confessional is upon us, our annual alphabetical recitation of our sins and transgressions, from ashamnu to ti'tanu, from avarice to xenophobia and zealotry. The list never changes; the question it poses, somewhat tediously, is whether we have changed.
This week, we begin "Vayikra," the first book of Leviticus, the third book of the Torah. This section of the Torah is filled with many fascinating and important Torah concepts that we can relate to, including the laws of lashon hara (the prohibitions against speaking ill of others), kashrut (keeping kosher) and the well-known phrase: "Love your fellow as yourself."