Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, begins tonight. If you’re fasting, have a safe and easy fast. Tomorrow, in every synagogue around the world, this will be read, as it is every year, about the nature of a true fast:
To be sure, they seek Me daily,
Eager to learn My ways.
Like a nation that does what is right,
That has not abandoned the laws of its God,
They ask Me for the right path,
They are eager for the nearness of God:
Why, when we fasted, did You not see?
When we starved our bodies, did You pay no heed?”
Because on your fast day, you see to your business and oppress all your workers.
Because you fast in strife and contention,
And you strike with a wicked fist.
Your fasting today is not such as to make your voice heard on high.
Is this the fast I desire,
A day for men to starve their bodies?
Is it bowing the head like a bulrush and lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call that a fast, a day when the Lord is favorable?
No, this is the fast I desire:
To unlock the fetters of wickedness,
And untie the cords of lawlessness,
To let the oppressed go free;
To break off every yoke.
It is to share your bread with the hungry,
And to take the wretched poor into your home;
When you see the naked, to clothe him,
And not to ignore your own brethren.
In a time, when Very Serious People engage in economic cruelty, it’s worthwhile reading for us all.
From a cultural Jew who is an Atheist: The prayer is still woo. If one want to accomplish the goals of the last paragraph, prayer does not work. Just go out and do it, to the best of your ability. It is the way one should live life every day of the year, not just one day.