Easy Fast

09.24.04

With Yom Kippur beginning at sundown, everyone’s walking around today wishing each other an “easy fast”.

I’m not sure why we do this. Maybe it’s because, unlike happy holidays, there isn’t really an appropriate greeting for Yom Kippur (in English, anyway). It doesn’t seem appropriate to wish someone a “happy” Yom Kippur – it’s not a happy holiday. So really, what most people think of when they think Yom Kippur is the fasting.

Of course, that’s not how it’s supposed to be. We refrain from food and drink on Yom Kippur so we won’t be distracted by it… in theory, anyway. In practice, the lack of food and drink has become the focal point of the day. We discuss it endlessly, rather than focusing on the real meaning of the day. We make a much bigger deal of it than it really is, talking about it the same way Canadians spend half of every winter complaining about the weather. The lack of food is such a distraction, in fact, that I can’t help but think that permitting food on Yom Kippur would direct more people’s attention towards prayer.

Perhaps instead of “have an easy fast”, we should say “have a meaningful fast” or something along those lines. Or use a greeting that has nothing to do with fasting.

G’mar chatima tova.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DaninVan 09.24.04 at 2:52 PM

…I’m hungry now

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2 Hanthala 09.24.04 at 5:51 PM

Dan, its only one day!

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3 Peter 09.24.04 at 9:12 PM

Have a meaningful fast.

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4 Alex Bensky 09.26.04 at 6:15 PM

In the UK at least at one point they’d say, “Happy New Year and well over the fast.”

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