A Yom Kippur to Reexamine Our Lives

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

A Yom Kippur to Reexamine Our Lives

Dear Chevra,

If ever there were a Yom Kippur when we need to read aloud and invoke for our thought, prayer, and action the Torah passage on the fulfillment and tikkun of the Isaac-Ishmael story, this is the one.

I am referring to Gen 25: 7-11, in which after Abraham's death, Ishmael and Isaac come together to bury him.

For the only time in Torah, they are called "his sons" — rather than spoken of as — this one, that one. And afterward, Isaac goes to live at Be'er Lachai Roi, the Well of the Living One Who Sees Me, the wellspring that has saved the life of Ishmael & Hagar.

Indeed, it is the well-spring twin of the Mount where God Is Seen/ Sees, as it is named by Abraham after the angel saves the life of Isaac, and saves him from killing Isaac.

In other words, after mourning their dead together, Isaac & Ishmael can live in peace with each other.

Reading this passage could — or not, as you choose — be connected with then saying a special mourners' kaddish for all those who died these past ten days, whether Israeli Jews or Israeli Arabs or Palestinians. And by ending this Kaddish with "v'al kol Yisrael, v'al kol Yishmael."

Other ways of mourning these dead may seem more appropriate to you. It seems to me that — in whatever way speaks to each of us — it is important to grieve for the dead of BOTH peoples, and only when we learn to do this can we live together.

Shalom, gmar chatima tovah —

Arthur (Rabbi Arthur Waskow)


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