Looking Towards Yom Kippur


This lovely passage, the confessional of Rabbi Nissim of Blessed Memory is in the introductory pages of my grandmother’s Yom Kippur prayer book. In it, Rabbi Nissim asks for mercy, not because he is so particularly worthy, but because the divine is merciful.

I don’t think that my grandmother ever read this passage.  This prayer book was probably a replacement from one that had fallen apart from years of use.I assume that my grandfather bought it for her. I assume this because it is Nusach S’fard, the text that is used by Chassidim. My grandmother was, let me put it diplomatically, skeptical, at best, of Chassidic practice.

Every year I call my mother to wish her a good Yom Kippur. Each year, she tells me how every year her father would ask my mother for Mechila, forgiveness. my mother would say that every year it made her weep that her sweet father would ask for forgiveness. My mother would cry and her father would ask in Yiddish, “ So, do you forgive me?”.

This year my mother noted that her mother never asked for forgiveness. This year was the first year my mother asked me for forgiveness.


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