Yes, there is blood. Yes, we kill chickens and use them to make broth. Yes, they cut their jugular in front of us and the Rebbe has to check it’s done properly.
Yes, it can look cruel.
But, it’s TRADITION.
And, even though, I rarely eat meat, I feel no pain for the animals and no guilt. I can’t help it, but I am fine with it. I am fine with it because we do it with a precise intention and we do it properly and I see a certain “sacrifice-toward-God” intention into the whole ritual. And yes, this is very tribalist and maybe even a bit sadistic, but it’s what I felt looking at this lovely family that came today to pay their tribute before the day of Atonement. I was not ashamed to be Jewish. I was not scared. I was just proud to belong to a group of people who have cultural traditions, such as this one.
Yom Kippur is the best holidays of the year, the most rewarding of it all. It surrounds you with a feeling of peace and accomplishment that is equal to nothing else you would ever do. And I am completely sure it is not only because of the fast, the whole atmosphere around us is holy. Even people are holier than ever, they care for one another more, they respect one another more, they even respond to one another in a different way than every other day. And, yes, this is hypocritical because “the many are fearful of God’s judgment and so this is why they behave well,” but I do not. Every Yom Kippur, I feel this rush of wanting to be better than who I am. I am interested in knowing more about myself and why I react the way I do to certain things. I strive for perfection and holiness and I thrive with it for the rest of the year.
Yom Kippur is a blessing for me. The spiritual highness of the whole day has no comparison with any other day.
And when it’s over, we are re-newed. When it’s over, we are cleansed. When it’s over we are light and ready to begin a new year. A bit like the end of Shabbat when we wish to one another “Shavua Tov,” or “good week.”