I’m quite certain that all of you fondly remember my earlier cantankerous remarks about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Or you don’t. It was only a few days ago, so I won’t bother linking to it.
Today in my twitter stream, my good friend @ravmatt (who is well worth following) tweeted that before fasting we should read Isaiah 58 and think about why we are fasting. (He’s a messianic rabbi, so this was probably related to the sermons he’s preparing for Yom Kippur.)
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
The man’s got a point. (Which isn’t surprising, if you know Matt.) Maybe in future years we’ll tweak the family tradition a little.
Of course, it’s complicated by the fact that Yom Kippur commands no work at all, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable volunteering somewhere. But fasting from food always struck me as fairly silly, and anyway a total fast isn’t wise for some of us (Hero gets splitting headaches, my sister N gets pretty sick, etc.)
Once in college I fasted from complaining for a day, which might be a much better avenue to explore. It actually took quite a bit of discipline. (Especially because it was the day before a massive group project was due!) That’s worth looking into.