Yom Kippur 5784: Atonement Means Being Our Whole Self

September 22, 2023

By Rabbi Ariel Platt, Director of J Life

Yom Kippur, “The Day of Atonement,” is centered on our sins, mistakes, failures, and behavior patterns we want to change. In order to become better people, we not only have to own our sins, but make up for them. We tell the people we impacted that we are sorry, and as we say the special Yom Kippur prayers we hit our chests, when each sin is named whether we did them or not. 

However, I have learned over time that to truly become better people we can’t just focus on all the bad things, we must also focus on the good things we have done. It is essential to look at the full picture, who we are as full human beings in order to truly grow and become the people we want to be.

This year when we are thinking about our sins, mistakes, failures, and behavior patterns that we want to change. Also focus on the good things, specifically the good deeds, the successes, and the behaviors we want to raise up. To become the best versions of ourselves we must see our full selves. 

So, when you go to hit your chest, and reflect on your sins while saying Ashamnu or Al Cheit, our confessional prayers. Also think about the positive reflection of that sin. Here are some examples of ways to see our full selves within each sin we may reflect upon on Yom Kippur. 

  • We have hurt/We have raised up 
  • We have stolen/We have given 
  • We have given harmful advice/We have given good advice 
  • We have caused harm/We have been kind 
  • We slandered or mocked/We have spoken positively 
  • We hated/We loved 
  • We deceived/We cultivated truth 
  • We have acted stubbornly/We have been open to new ideas 
  • We acted disrespectfully/We acted respectfully

May our full selves be open to the possibilities of the year ahead and let your full self, mistakes and successes of our past, inspire us towards a better future.

G’mar Chatimah Tovah!

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