From the Desk - Pre-Yom Kippur
Shalom Friends, Wow, what an incredible Yom Tov! It was such a privilege to share Rosh Hashana with our community. Rabbi Heshy Benshimon did us proud with beautiful davening and Torah reading and, of course, incredible shofar blowing. It was also truly beautiful to be led in our prayer by Chazan Levin who inspired us all with a range of spirited tunes. Onwards and upwards! We look forward to Yom Kippur which I’m sure will be equally meaningful and uplifting for the Beth Ora family. Below, please find some guidelines regarding Yom Kippur which I hope are helpful. Announcement - Mazel tov to Guila and Shimon Zrihan on the birth of a son, and to the grandparents Evelyna and David Zrihan and Lea and Shalom Kadoch. You may have noticed that the prayers we say on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are often concerned, not just with the Jewish People, but also with the whole world. In addition to our special relationship with our own people, our ultimate aspiration is for the wellbeing of all humanity. It is, therefore, important to share the grief of those living in Haiti where Hurricane Matthew made landfall on the morning of the second day of Rosh Hashana. This is the strongest hurricane to hit Haiti since 1964 and, as Haiti is the poorest country in our hemisphere, its people are especially vulnerable to natural disasters. Our prayers are with the people of Haiti at this time. On a different note, I’m delighted to pass on to you warmest greetings for the New Year from our MP, Stephane Dion. As you know, the federal government has launched public consultations on electoral reform in order to collect data based on Canadian’s preferences on this high-stakes issue. In order to participate in this civic debate, you can visit the following page to learn more about the reasons why the government is looking into alternatives to our current voting system: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Committees/en/ERRE. The website also offers an overview of the different choices Canadians can make. You are then invited to transmit your views to Mr. Dion by regular mail or by email. You can also share your thoughts directly with the government by completing an online survey which you will find in the ‘Participate in the study’ section of the link above.
Pre-Yom Kippur Section Is there anything in particular I should be doing next Tuesday, the day before Yom Kippur? Yes; One mitzvah we may find very easy to keep is the mitzvah of eating on the day before Yom Kippur! According to the Sages, whoever eats and drinks on erev Yom Kippur will be rewarded as if he fasted on that day. It is important to ask for forgiveness for any wrongdoing against other people. Ideally, one should specify what the wrongdoing was. However, if he thinks that doing so would upset the other person, he may ask in a general way. There is a special meal eaten before Yom Kippur. Does one make Kiddush at the meal before the fast? No. It is not yet Yom Tov, and it is effectively a weekday meal. It is fitting to begin the meal, both before and after the fast, with the Hamotzi blessing over a challah or loaf of bread, and to conclude with the Grace after Meals. Does one light candles before Yom Kippur? Yes. The widely accepted practice is to light candles in the Shabbat candlesticks, saying the traditional blessing over them, which concludes, Lehadlik ner shel Yom Hakippurim. This is followed by the Shehecheyanu blessing. The candles should be lit last thing, after the meal, as the act of lighting them is traditionally understood to usher in Yom Tov and the fast for those who perform it. Many people have the custom of lighting a Yahrzeit candle before Yom Kippur for all those they have lost. There is also a custom for each married man to light a candle too. What does one traditionally wear on Yom Kippur? The tradition is, if possible, to wear white and not to wear jewellery. This is understood to be in imitation of the angels who (apparently!) dress in white. It also reminds us of shrouds, thus humbling the heart. The services are long and often hard to follow; can I bring reading material to the synagogue? Yes, certainly. Anything which stirs the heart and awakens the soul is appropriate. Concentration in the prayers does not mean following every word, but rather participating in the creation of an open spirit of heartfelt reflection. It is a firm principle to give Tsedakah generously on (that is before and or after) Yom Kippur. Is there any stage of the davening when I can add my own personal prayers? Yes. On several occasions over Yom Kippur, we say the Vidui (confession) prayer. Although all general sins are included in the standard Vidui, it is correct to make special mention of personal wrongdoings that one has done. In this way, the confession will be more meaningful and heatfelt. The addition can be inserted at any convenient point. You can also add private requests at the end of the Amidah. What do we refrain from doing on Yom Kippur, other than eating and drinking? There are four other prohibitions on Yom Kippur (in addition to the forms of work): bathing, applying oils, wearing leather shoes and marital relations. Healthy children from the age of nine should be trained to fast part of the day by giving them meals at a later time than usual. Below this age, children should eat as usual and can eat as much as they want (or their parents allow them!). They can also have Yom Tov meals and treats in honour of the day. Wishing you all well over the Fast and a wonderful beginning to 5777. Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami