At sundown on Friday night, Jews around the world will begin to celebrate Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. It's a day to atone for the sins we have committed but also to reflect on our lives and commit to doing better next year. One of the ways we do this is through day-long prayer but also by fasting for 25 hours. (Why 25? Because anyone could do 24, the extra hour makes it hardcore!)
I've written about this holiday before. I encourage you to read my whole post that I wrote two years ago here. In short, what I decided after Yom Kippur of 2011 was that I was not going to fast on this day of days. Why? In short because while I was fasting, I was focused on my growing hunger and as that uneasiness grew, I was less able to focus on the day and instead I just focused on my belly. As a continually learning Intuitive Eater, I feel that staying connected with my body and honoring my hunger is helpful for me, especially on Yom Kippur. Since I wrote my original post, some have commented to me that fasting and the discomfort is part of the meaning of the day. They said that this ritual is something that reminds us that if we can give this up for just one day (+1 hour...remember, we are hardcore) then we can do the hard work to make our lives more meaningful and be better humans, Jews, fathers, wives, sons, daughters and so on.
But as this second Yom Kippur comes up, I remain certain that for me, eating is my path to mindful reflection. Honoring my hunger allows me to honor my body and soul and commit to the work of living a full life.
The funny thing about not fasting is that by the end of the day, when the "break the fast" meal approaches, you aren't overly hungry and don't end up binging on all the food that's available after the sun sets. The "break the fast" meal symbolizes why fasting is not for me. Most people I know who are fasting start counting down the hours until their fast ends. They are waiting for that proverbial finish line to appear so they can run past it, right for the dinner table. It's like they said, "I made it, now get some food in me NOW." It seems to me that all the reflection is lost because now they binge to remove the feeling of hunger. We spend 25+ hours suffering, atoning, and praying and how do we start a new year? With a binge. Well, no thanks.
I choose to continue my own ritual to eat on Yom Kippur. I know it's not what some Jews agree with but that does not make me any less than them. My spirituality is my own and I choose to engage in my Judaism as it best serves me.
How will you spend this Yom Kippur? Do you fast or not? Let me know what you think.
Just a few days ago, my son asked me why I don't fast on Yom Kippur. As my kids get older questions like these make me analyze my actions on a whole new level. I explained why I choose to eat during this holiday and I wanted to emphasize that I still make the day holy! So with that in mind, I figured that I'd share this page that was written for Jews in recovery or working toward recovery from eating disorders. It highlights how to mark the day without fasting and I find it very useful for me. It allows me to make sure that what ever sustenance I do take it, that it's purposeful and with intention.