Sins? What sins?
So Yom Kippur starts tonight at sundown, the Jewish Day of Atonement, wherein Jews fast for twenty-four hours, thus wiping the sin-slate clean for the coming year (and believe me, do I have sins to repent for this past year). (There's other stuff involved as well, going to synagogue, praying, stuff like that, but essentially, for the sake of my rambling, you fast, you're golden.)
Now, this always poses a bit of a, well, not a problem, exactly, but a conundrum. See, I don't really believe in a god. Or the God. Or anything like that. Never have, really. Once I was old enough to think and reason for myself, I discovered a lot of holes in this whole God thing that made me question His existance, which led to my decision that He doesn't exist and never did.
Religion began (and when I say "religion," I'm referring mainly to the Judeo-Christian versions), I believe, as a way for the priests to control the population. They had no real laws, way back in the day, and the only way to get people to, say, not kill each other, was to invent this all-powerful being who looks down from the heavens, knows when you're being bad or good, and decides to send you to Heaven or Hell based on your actions.
But I digress. This isn't supposed to be a screed against religion. People can believe whatever they want to believe, it's none of my business, just don't come to my door asking if I've found Jesus, okay?
Getting back to my original point, my conundrum...I haven't gone to services at the synagogue for years. Once I had my Bar Mitzvah when I turned thirteen, that was it. I can probably count on two hands the number of times I've attended services since then. I just don't see the point of it, except as, perhaps, a social gathering. But as far as sitting with a couple hundred other people and worshipping some god I don't believe in, no thanks. Not for me.
And yet, every year when the High Holidays roll around, I find myself, if not going, then at least contemplating going to the synagogue. These are the two most important days on the Jewish calender, the holiest of holy days, but, again, don't believe in God, his holy days don't mean much to me. But on Yom Kippur, I fast.
I don't think a year has gone by where I haven't fasted on Yom Kippur, and, recently, I find myself wondering why. Am I trying to hedge my bets? I don't believe in God, but just in case He's there, I better repent my sins? Do I feel that if I don't at least participate in some Jewish traditions, then I'm somehow less of a Jew?
See, Judaism for me has always been two seperate things, a religion and a culture. The religion, as I've said, I can do without, but the culture, the history, the heritage of my people, that I've always embraced. I'm proud to be Jewish. I'm honored to be associated with a group of people who have endured so much hardship over thousands of years and still stands strong and defiant.
Not to mention, we have the best comedians.
I have tattoos, which are forbidden by Jewish law, yet one of them is of a Jewish Star, so am I less Jewish, a bad Jew, for wanting to wear my heritage on my sleeve (or back, as the case may be)? According to the Orthodoxy, I can't be buried in a Jewish cemetary now, but so many of my generation have tattoos. Some of whom devoutly practice the religion. Each and every Holocaust survivor is tattooed, branded with those disgusting numbers. Are they lesser Jews?
Anyway, back to my question: why do I feel the need to fast on Yom Kippur if I don't even believe in God and His Book of Judgement? I don't honestly know.
I'm sitting here contemplating, along with the fasting, actually going to services tomorrow, but why? Is it like a addict's habit that's really tough to break? For half my life I'd gone to synagogue and done the rituals and traditions, and they've become so ingrained in me that I can't shake them fully? I'd say that I'm having a crisis of faith, but I don't have a faith (which, I'm sure, some people would say is part of the problem).
Anyway, sun's almost down. Happy Day of Atonement.
And remember, He knows when you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.