We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A day of repentenance and atonement, much like Lent for Christians like me. All are serious times, in which to take life very seriously - dead seriously - as this precious and brief gift of life deserves to be taken for at least some days of the year before we revert to our normal ways and habits.
We are all just animated dust, with God's spark. It's easy for me to forget that during daily life, when everything seems so important.
Christianity starts with doctrines about sin (you're soaking in it!) this world (inherently evil) and man (unable to redeem himself without grace) that are diametrically opposed to Jewish notions - in which freely-willed human choice of good builds this world into a vessel for G-d's presence (AKA "Tikkun Olam"). Although they err, these humans are not born into sin and can repent at any time by choosing good (and changing their behavior).
Consequently sin and repentance mean very different things.
From the Talmud:
"There were never more joyous days for Israel than the 15th of Av (when the maidens of Jerusalem danced in the vineyards, each in a borrowed white dress - borrowed so as not to shame the poor) and Yom Kippur."
This is the joy of clarity - of freely willed return to one's pure essence.
The solemn nature of the day flows from the fact that heightened clarity about one's G-dly self and nearness to G-d leads to heightened awareness of human frailty and failing - and of how G-d's enduring love and forbearance always complement human free will.
Jews act monastic - turning away from this world - for just one day of the year, Yom Kippur. But the basis for that day is fundamentally different than similar impulses in Christianity.
God , why do you call me dust .
I am one of your many children.
I work and labor to find you, all that I work for I leave behind never to have again.
I travel many roads to find you . You are elusive and subtle
You are the God of my father and my father's father.
You have been passed down to me .
I know no other.
Do not be cross with me , because I have chosen another road to find you.
Rejoice and be glad, for I have showed grit and determination to become worthy that You call me your child.
Old Jewish saying: "Two Jews, three views." As a demonstration of that wisdom, I'd like to add two more views.
1. Ben-David is absolutely correct in what he has said. In fact, I don't think I've heard a more precise and succinct description of an essential difference between the Christian and Jewish worldviews. Todah! No, Todah rabbah, ben-David.
2. On the other hand (there's always an "other hand"), when he says, "But the basis for that day is fundamentally different than similar impulses in Christianity." I think he misses the mark. Both Christians and Jews long for that sense of oneness and harmony with G-d which so fiercely identifies the Israeli faiths (Islam included). Remove that fierce longing and the history of these faiths dimishes to something that could be written on a napkin...with room left over to calculate the lunch bill.
In any event, I'd like to wish you, each one and all, the very best in the year to come.