I don’t think I was the only one in my social circles on whom the Days of Awe fell flat this year. There was AB, and AB, and SB, and I’m sure many more who said pretty much the same thing about the High Holidays this year. I hate, by the way, that new expression, “Have a meaningful fast,” preferring instead the more traditional wishing one “an easy fast.” I’m betting that the collapse of meaning this year had something to do with the political climate, with a moral monster now occupying the highest political office in the land, with people dying in Puerto Rico and with God knows what else on the horizon. It’s not like we live in some shtetl in Poland. We are citizens of this country with rights and responsibilities, and this year it just seems that, no, we will not be forgiven, that all of this cannot be forgiven, what we have all of us created and helped create.
This year, then, the fast “meant” nothing, but it was an easy fast and I got through it. Going online after the break-fast, a good night’s sleep, and trying to put my thoughts looking forward to my presentation at an upcoming teach-in at Syracuse on Charlottesville put some perspective on the morose presentiments. Someone online posted a little story relating to a Hasidic master who was said to have said that the time for teshuva (i.e. genuine spiritual “turning”) comes after the Yom Kippur fast. Peg Olin posted a wonderful photo essay put together by David Shulman and herself from the occupied West Bank. And I came to some conclusion that after Yom Kippur this year must be a year of political and spiritual turning and vigilance.
The pictures I took on the way home on the road leading to rt. 81 and out of Syracuse into my drive home. At least in retrospect, they convey some of the mood that I carried into the fast the next day.