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Mishkan HaNefesh, Vulnerability, Yom Kippur

Mishkan HaNefesh: Vulnerability

High Holy Days 2023

Mishkan HaNefesh, Yom Kippur p. 209


This year of all years, we are acutely aware that we are vulnerable. The language of the High Holy Days may come from another era, but the message rings as true as ever. Whether we admit it or not, we walk through our lives exposed and susceptible. The call to “take hold of your life” is here and it is urgent.


Today we call it by its rightful name:
A Day of Dread – nora v’ayom.
Unwelcome visitor, for we want to live
in a sunny world where God is love
and all endings are happy.

But the drumbeat sounds
and the words tumble down
and even the angels tremble with fear.
For all things are judged
and all things will pass
and life ends in a heartbeat,
and death knows our name.

At the start of the year,
in the season of truth,
comes the Day of Remembrance
for all we forget
and all we deny;
and we fall on our knees
in the depths of our hearts
for we know that the bell tolls
for us.

The words are old and the language was theirs,
but the call is real and the message is ours:
Take hold of your life
while you still have the chance;
for your story will end
and it might be this year
in a way you don’t know.
Take hold of your life:
make things right while you can;
and don’t miss the call of the Day of Dread.


Excerpts from Mishkan HaNefesh: Machzor for the Days of Awe © 2015 are under the copyright protection of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and used by permission of the CCAR. All rights reserved.