Reflections for Shabbat Yom Kippur

Reflections for Shabbat Yom Kippur 5775 – 2014

by Rabbi Pamela Frydman

This year, 5775 – 2014, Yom Kippur day is the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi and Eid al Adha will begin approximately as Yom Kippur is ending.

On another note, we live in a time of climate change. Hazzan Jalda Rebling of Berlin reminds us that Rabbi Akiva gave us Avinu Malkeinu as he prayed for rain during a time of drought.  (Taanit 25b)

ירד רבי עקיבא אחריו, ואמר: אבינו מלכנו אין לנו מלך אלא אתה. אבינו מלכנו למענך רחם עלינו, וירדו גשמים

Since this Yom Kippur is also Shabbat, and we traditionally refrain from reciting Avinu Malkeinu until Nielah, might we acknowledge at each place where Avinu Malkeinu is normally recited, that at Neilah we will add the kavvanah of climate balance to all of our other individual and collective kavvanot for Avinu Malkeinu? And add that kavvanah to all the other kavvanot in people’s hearts as we prepare to recite Avinu Malkeinu at Nielah?

Perhaps also add the kavvanah of praying for climate balance throughout the year with the recitation of the Avinu Malkeinu chorus that is traditionally part of weekday tachanun recited after the shacharit Amidah.

On a related note, I am wrestling with why we recite the Yom Kippur vidui prayers on Shabbat and not the thirteen attributes and Avinu Malkeynu that punctuate the vidui.

God’s recitation of the thirteen attributes in Exodus 34:6 to 7 is in the text between the verses in which God tells Moses to carve two stone tablets like the first tablets that were (made by God and) shattered by Moses and the verses in which Moses asks God to pardon our iniquity and sin and God makes the piercing and troubling covenant to work wonders before our people.

The communication of Moses before and after the thirteen attributes renders the attributes a creation changer. Rabbi Akiva’s recitation of Avinu Malkeinu that is followed by rain renders Avinu Malkeinu a creation changer.

On Shabbat we recite petitions such as our requests during mishebeyrachim and the request in the opening of the Torah service to scatter our enemies, but we omit the petitionary prayers that are seen as having creation changer aspects, such as the brachot in the middle of the weekday amidah.

Kiddush and blessings over food are creation changer blessings in that they transform the ordinary into the holy. Perhaps all blessings are meant to be creation changing. Blessings are recited on Shabbat, but the creation changer prayers and blessings known to have famously transformed reality are traditionally omitted on Shabbat.

All of our Yom Kippur prayers are potentially penitential. Our brachot throughout the year are potentially creation changing. Perhaps we traditionally take a break from a certain type of intersection between the two on Shabbat Yom Kippur. Perhaps the purpose is for us to experience being in Shabbat, the place where creation is in a state of completion and dayenu, and the tradition invites us to do this by denying ourselves the privilege of the thirteen attributes and Avinu Malkeinu just as those who unplug on Shabbat deny themselves the earthly privileges of plugging in.

We are asking God to forgive us and transform our lives throughout the prayers of Yom Kippur, and at the same time, on Shabbat Yom Kippur, many refrain from using the creation changing petitions of the thirteen attributes and Avinu Malkeinu.

Perhaps this refraining on Shabbat Yom Kippur in the midst of our viduis adds to the mitzvah afflicting of our souls.

Gmar hatimah tovah.