Prepent 5774: Day 38, Here I Am
On Yom Kippur, taking stock of our lives and setting goals for the coming year
Journey into the High Holidays with Amichai Lau-Lavie, founder of Storahtelling and the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul. It’s a daily dose of inspiration to get you focused and ready for the new year, featuring daily intentions, simple tasks, and tools for living better.
Imagine a long line, like those at a government office or a crowded airport, where one by one our number flashes or our name gets called out and we step up to meet of the person in charge of processing.
That is, in a mystical bureaucratic way, one way to describe the inner dynamics of Yom Kippur. One by one we stand there and declare our data, digits, doubts, and delights: “Here I am.”
“Here I am”—hineni in Hebrew—is the key word for me on this day, and on all others too.
One of the most memorable elements of my childhood Yom Kippurs is the whisper of the man who led the prayers at our little synagogue in Israel. Mr. Kahana wasn’t a cantor with a big voice but a humble teacher with a big soul. He would rise to the Musaf prayer and chant the first words in a whisper: hineni he’ani mimmas—here I am, standing in the poverty of my achievements.
Here I am. Taking time on this day to take stock of my life and recommit to a life of honesty, balance, more focus, and more joy. I take today to acknowledge my shortcomings, figure out where I can do betterm and how I can do more for myself and others this coming year.
If only one word is on our lips and in our hearts today let it be hineni. Here I am. Even the president says so. In this moving short video, released this week and making the rounds online, President Obama reminds us that the Jewish legacy is to take our personal experiences and use them for good in the world.
Take time today to close your eyes and ask yourself what is life’s call this year to which you will rise and answer, ‘Here I am.’ Here we are, together.
Follow along with the Scroll’s daily Prepent series here.
I never got to meet my grandmother, but the place I feel closest to her has always been her yahrzeit plaque in our synagogue