Fasting on Yom Kippur is a pretty big deal. Other than not working and going to synagogue, it’s pretty much all that we think about on that holiday of introspection and judgment.
As Rabbi Mary Zamore explained in her 2011 Huffington Post article “The Meaning of Yom Kippur Fasting,”
Not ingesting food or water for more than 24 hours can be a powerful physical and spiritual experience. By not focusing on communal meals and get-togethers, we make time for unrushed prayer, repentance and reflection….
Fasting also facilitates our ability to exercise discipline and endurance. If we can master our urge to eat for one day, perhaps we can have better control over our behaviors all year long. When we fast, we can feel our inner strength. We can also isolate our spiritual and physical weaknesses.”
I never said I’m a huge fan of fasting. Actually, last year when I was trying to fast (and getting hungry), I thought to myself, I hope I don’t have to fast next year. I hope I’m pregnant.
Lucky, lucky me.
So no fasting this Yom Kippur.
For the first time since I became a Bat Mitzvah.
But it does beg the question, how can one make this holiday meaningful without fasting? Is it enough to go to synagogue? Or not to work? Will I feel different, removed from the community, in my need to consume food every 2 hours to feed this hungry little one inside me?
Of course I’m not the first one to ask this question, but I’d still like a little advice here.
In his prayer “Meditation before Yom Kippur for One who Cannot Fast,” Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub writes:
May my eating be as a fast;
May it be dedicated to You, to T’shuvah –
to the Renewal and Restoration of my Relationship
to You, to Others, and to Myself.
For those of you who have been unable to fast, due to pregnancy, or any other health reasons, how did you make Yom Kippur meaningful? How did you create a fast without a fast?
Mazel tov, Leora.
That said, I say you are on your way already. Being mindful is half the battle to the goal of the day, if you ask me. So we do what we can, and we keep in mind why we do what we can.
(You know, there is a prayer said after using the bathroom. To me, it brings one back to the basic knowledge that everything, EVERYTHING is G-d given, and G-d approved. It keeps my eyes on the prize.)