By Shelley Hubal
My father’s favorite blue and gray flannel shirt hangs on a hook in my closet. I wear it around the house on cold days, but try not to soil it because I can’t bring myself to put it in the wash. Last night I dreamt that the shirt was ruined beyond repair. I awoke with an ache in my heart.
It has been four years since my father passed. The pain has lessened, but there is still a hole in my heart: a hole that I work every day to befriend. Suffering is part of the human experience and, I believe, part of God’s plan for each of us. Strangely, if I hold the pain long enough with tenderness, I break through to the other side and feel lighter. I wonder if God is also witnessing our pain with tenderness and patience, just waiting for us to turn to him?
In his book “This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared,” Rabbi Alan Lew says that on Yom Kippur, “Your heart is cracking through its shell to be reborn.” During the holy week, we repent, we pray, we practice compassion, we ask for forgiveness and peace. On Yom Kippur, we are confronted with the fragility of the human heart and the multitude of ways that we neglected that fragility over the last year. We know that ultimately God will be the judge and we pray to be “reborn.”
On this Yom Kippur, I am wishing everyone in the Binghamton Jewish community and those in the Diaspora a meaningful experience. May it be God’s will that our hearts are mended and the path for the new year be illuminated with tenderness and love. Shanah tovah.