I was surprised to read this morning that some Rabbis went down to Lower Manhattan to conduct Yom Kippur services for any Jewish people among the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Now, I think it's very nice that our clergy wanted to make sure that the people downtown weren't denied the chance to pray on the holiest day of the Jewish year. But if one considers the true message of Yom Kippur, that park in Lower Manhattan was the LAST place those Rabbis should have been... unless they were there to demand and hear the protesters' public confession.
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That's right, Jews believe in confession too. A major highlight of the Yom Kippur service is the public and communal confession we Jews make to almost every kind of sin you can imagine.
It's an important ritual because it binds all Jews together in the acknowledgement that we are all sinners and we are all responsible for one another.
Beyond Yom Kippur, the entire message of the Torah and Jewish law is simply that we all have responsibilities, not rights. No one is entitled to anything.
And that's why those protesters, Jewish or not, on Wall Street really needed a lesson, and not coddling on Yom Kippur.
No one is entitled to a living, not in the U.S. Constitution and not in God's law. Yes, we have a religious obligation to help the poor, but not a right to demand money from anyone. The list goes on.
This is exactly the opposite of the message we hear from the protesters who continue to insist that a birthright of financial comfort has been stolen from them.
To be truly penitent, a person must admit that his or her situation is of his or her own doing. Otherwise, it'll always be at least partially "somebody else's fault."
I sure hope at least one of the Rabbis in the park on Saturday had the brains and the guts to convey that true message of Yom Kippur to the protesters.
But I have my strong doubts.