Monday, August 29, 2005

Making Peace with My Skin

Every year, Yom Kippur offers us a chance to make amends for the sins of the past. This would usually involve people whom we might have wronged and an opportunity to apologize and clean the slate for the new year.

Rebecca has decided to observe the high holidays for the first time in many years. If you really do this right, it amounts to a lot of hours in services and a day of complete fasting.

We talked on Sunday about this whole concept of asking forgiveness and what each of us might want to achieve. She suggested, given my recurring bouts with skin cancer, that I try to make peace with my skin – that I ask its forgiveness for all those hours on the beach while I was growing up, bathed in cocoa butter instead of SPF 45 sunscreen. I’m not so sure that amends are possible at this point in time, when the damage was actually done so long ago. But, hey, it’s worth a try!

She is going to embark on a project to make peace with the Torah. Rebecca doesn’t have a lot of formal training in Judaism. Her one attempt to read the Torah about 15 years ago ended with her throwing her copy in the trash can when she got so upset about what she was reading. She has thought of this as the equivalent of a mortal sin ever since and would now like to be absolved. I told her teasingly, “Before you know it, you’re going to be up there on the bimah chanting from the Torah.” Her response, “My dead Poppa really likes to hear you say that.”

As for the fasting on Yom Kippur, I have never had the commitment to do it. Instead I am always sneaking lunch at the break between services. Rebecca suggested that we both try it this year, drinking water but eating nothing for 24 hours. Maybe I will.

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