Aired Oct. 1, 2011 on Dave’s Gone By. YouTube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkNjq0IwyUU
Shalom, Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of October 2nd, 2011.
He’s making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice – not Santa Claus; I’m talkin’ about God. This is the time of year when HaShem opens his great big book. And I don’t mean “Harry Potter and the Cauldron of Borscht.” I mean the book of life and death, the book where God inscribes your name for the year. If he writes your name in bold calligraphy, you’re gonna have a fabulous year ahead. If he scribbles your name in pencil and deliberately spells it wrong, you better get health insurance. And if he erases it or just puts your initials in the margin, you might want to go shopping for a good mausoleum.
These are the Days of Awe, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We call them the Days of Awe because we look at all the crappy things we’ve done and go, “awwwww.” This is a time of reflection, expiation and making amends. If you’ve cheated somebody, or told a hurtful falsehood, or threatened to kick somebody’s tuchas because they won’t let your nine year old be in the school play (even though she’s perfect for it, and she can act rings around that little blonde whore they got for the part because her parents donate ten thousand dollars a year to the school’s PTA fund… bastards!), you need to take a breath, acknowledge that you may have overreacted (even if you haven’t) and apologize to those you have disparaged, and to HaShem for your prideful behavior.
Unlike the Catholics, who do so much sinning they have to confess every week, Jews save up all their misdeeds to talk about them one day a year: Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On this day, we say, “I’m sorry” to God and to everyone we have offended. Granted, there’s some absurdity there, because you’re not allowed to bathe, put on deodorant or use mouthwash, which means if you go to synagogue on Yom Kippur, you’re offending everybody.
In the shul, the cantor sings “Kol Nidre,” a prayer in which we ask God not to take us seriously. Seriously! We tell HaShem, “Look, over the course of the year, we’re gonna make some pretty stupid promises. At a traffic stop, we’ll say, `God, if this patrolman let’s me off with a warning, I’ll donate what the ticket would have cost to charity.’ Or we’ll think, `If this dentist would just stop giving me pain, I’ll stop wishing to see him thrown from a tall building onto a steal spike.’ Or we’ll say, `If I could only get this raise, I’ll stop stealing office supplies.’” We won’t. And God knows we won’t. And we know God knows we won’t. So we sing “Kol Nidre” to him to let ourselves off the hook: “God, anything we vow to do over the next 12 months, ehhhh..not gonna happen. So please don’t listen. Put on your iPod. Just nod and wink and realize we’re gonna be back here in a year apologizing for shit we did that we said we wouldn’t, and stuff we didn’t do that we promised we would. And when you write my name in big block letters, remember it’s Solomon with one `L’ and three `O’s.’”
I hope, dear listeners, that we are all inscribed in the book of life and that we don’t do anything to jeopardize that status. After all, these days I’m sure God is using an e-book, so if we’re bad, all he has to do is backspace. At least the Days of Awe allow us to…re-Kindle.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches.
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