Recently the Jewish community celebrated the holiday of Yom Kippur. Beginning at sundown on one day and continuing until sundown on the next day, Yom Kippur is an age-old Jewish tradition which closely follows the beginning of a new year on the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah, the actual new year, is a day of celebration and ushering in the new year. Yom Kippur, however, is a day of atonement. The Jewish people fast and pray from sundown to sundown in order to atone for the sins of the previous year and maintain the favor of Yahweh, the god of Israel. For those who are unfamiliar with religious practices, fasting is the act of not eating (and in some cases not drinking water either) for a length of time. Many modern subscribers to the Jewish faith still follow this tradition every year.
Among those faithful followers are two of my good friends Mort and Saul. However, neither of them carried out the ritual fast with much atonement for sins or any Yahweh approval in mind. Mort, who did the entire fast with food and only cheated in the beverage department in order to take some medicine and have some coffee, fasted entirely for the purposes of tradition. He had done it every year for much of his life and he simply wanted to carry on as he had been. Rather than atoning during the fast, he just sat around for most of the day on his internet dating profiles, using one of them to meet an attractive stranger that very same day. It was quite counterproductive as far as sin atonement would go. Saul went all-out in the fast and didn’t even consume liquid for the full twenty-four hours. He, instead of atoning, meditated in hopes of acquiring super powers. His efforts were unfortunately in vain. I think that it is very interesting that in the spirit of an ancient tradition that has little concrete value in their lives, my friends went on a twenty-four hour fast. The fact that people will do things, even unpleasant ones, just because it’s the way it has been really says something about human beings in general.