Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A different view of fasting

As most Jews know, the High Holidays are quickly approaching, and with that is Yom Kippur, a 24 hour fast day with no food or water (or coffee). And for me, with it comes dread. I just don't like it, I get a headache, it's uncomfortable, etc. Technically we're not suppose to wear make up or deodorant or perfume either (although I have never taken part in that part before. Also, no brushing your teeth, no sex, and no medicines (unless it'll jeopardize your health, of course.)

But after my Halakha class (Jewish law), I really have a different perspective.  It is something that unites the Jewish people, and I was shocked to learn that it is a POSITIVE commandment, not a restrictive law. We should want to fast because we want to be afflicted to repent correctly to G-d.

I found all the rules for fasting to be really over the top. Like if someone is sick and trying to fast, they can drink one cheek full of liquid. Or eat one date-sized bite every 6-9 minutes so they may sustain their health, but still fast. There are many laws to fasting.  But then I realized that people WANT to fast, and these laws are actually in place to help people fast. (Help people fast?? Really?? If my doctor said I couldn't fast, I would be thrilled!) But observant Jews see it as a mitzvah to afflict oneself for G-d.  So although I am still not looking forward to Yom Kippur and my lack of food (although I think I will still be using deodorant) I am going to try to see it was a positive act and mitzvah instead of an act of deep dread.  

No comments: