Three Ways to Make Yom Kippur Meaningful

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September 28, 2022

5 min read

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How to embrace the opportunity of Yom Kippur and use it to truly change.

Here are three ways to tap into the transformational power of Yom Kippur.

1. Make yourself vulnerable.

Yom Kippur is a day unlike any other. The energy of the day is the power of teshuvah – returning to become the person you were created to be. One of the most painful moments a human being can have is the realization that “I’ve messed up my life. I haven’t changed. The same things trigger me. I still lose it with the people I love. I haven’t grown spiritually. What’s my life about? Why am I here? What defines me?”

Think about it. After you strip away all the externals – your home, your favorite possessions, your bank account – who are you?

You have been given a personal mission to bring your unique magic into the world. Yom Kippur is the time to contemplate your life and honestly evaluate how much you are maximizing your potential.

On Yom Kippur you recite the prayer of vidui-confession. You stand humbled as you list a variety of behaviors for which you ask forgiveness. Many of your words enumerate transgressions you’ve done causing pain to others. You admit that you have lied. You have slandered. You have stolen – not only money, but people’s time, their sense of inner peace, their pride. You have used our gift of speech to bring others down.

As you recite vidui, think about adding your own personal confessions for deeds done that you now regret.

If you genuinely want to actualize the day, begin by making yourself vulnerable. Try to come into the day by seeking forgiveness from those you have wounded. Especially the people in your life that you have taken for granted and so they are most convenient to hurt. No more blaming others for your shortcomings. It’s not about your dysfunctional childhood, your high school cliques, your spouse, or your boss at work. It’s about accepting responsibility for the type of person you have become. You create your destiny. You write the story of your life.

Yom Kippur calls out: “Realize your purpose because there is only one of you in all of time.”

2. Make yourself holy.

This is the day to discover your soul. Within you is a Divine spark, a flicker of holiness. On Yom Kippur it is possible to ignite the fire within. Taste the spiritual and let go of the physical. We do not eat or drink, wear leather shoes, wash, anoint ourselves with perfumes, or engage in physical intimacy. It is a custom to wear white. On this day, you are pure as the angels.

Yom Kippur is a day of miracles. Perhaps we have sullied our souls. There is a layer of grime and many spiritual stains that have dulled your inner light. But if you desire to begin anew, nothing can stand in your way.

On Yom Kippur you stand in prayer before God and speak intimately of your hopes, your fears, and your dreams. You strengthen your relationship with your Creator. You transform yourself into an ambassador of light and love in this world. You become spiritual through reflecting God’s light. Every time you extend yourself and open your hearts to others, you become partners with God and become a sacred being.

Yom Kippur calls out: “Take the holiness of the day with you throughout the year. Be a spiritual seeker. Reflect God’s light and kindness in this world.”

3. Make yourself grow.

To be alive means that you are constantly growing.” Some people walk through life a a zombie state. It is not enough to pray not to die – you must also pray to live life to the max. How do you fill your days? How do you spend your time?

For Yom Kippur to matter, you need to realize that you are accountable for your days. There is a reason that so many are grappling with unease and anxiety. Instead of looking inward so many put their time into external projections. They spend hours comparing lives on Instagram, growing unhappier with their own lives and then wondering why.

Lacking growth, living with emptiness, they are left with a void inside that refuses to disappear.

You have the choice to connect to emptiness or meaning, transience or the transcendental. You have the ability to tap into timeless spiritual wisdom. Each week you can put aside the stress and savor the beauty of Shabbat. One smile, one good word can change another person’s life. Judaism provides a path to transformation – yourself, your relationships, and the world you live in.

Yom Kippur calls out: “Take a small step. Set a goal. Make a plan. How will you grow this year?”

This Yom Kippur, leave behind the negativity, the fear, the lack of inspiration. See the opportunity of this awesome day. Discover the fire within your soul.

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