Yom Kippur begins Sunday evening. It is a day of quiet contemplation, a time for us to look into our lives, acknowledge our wrongdoings, and resolve to do better in this New Year.
In contrast to the way in which the shofar’s loud blast on Rosh Ha-Shana proclaims the world’s creation, Yom Kippur bids us to look quietly and sincerely into our inner souls. Long ago on this solemn day the high priest could enter the holy of holies — the inner most sanctum of the ancient temple — with the entire congregation waiting outside. The priest prepared himself for the ritual for no fewer than seven days. The people believed that when he emerged after pleading with God for the future of our people and he was still alive and well that a new year of health, joy, meaning and prosperity was assured.
Today, we have no more priests to make atonement for us.
Today, each of us must look into our own holy of holies. Each of us must look into our own arc of the Covenant to examine our deeds –to regret the things we have done wrong and to say we are sorry to God and to one another for those transgressions. When we have done these things sincerely, we may indeed enter the New Year feeling cleansed and renewed.