On Yom Kippur we read Isaiah 57:14- 58:14 a call to action and a call to do right not look right. Rabbi Shefa Gold, a great teacher and visionary has interpreted this section of the Yom Kippur service with a modern twist. It is stunning and tough a few years old it clearly gives us the vision of what we can be if we rethought the liturgy and found meaning in the words of the ancients. May your Yom Kippur be meaningful and complete. May your fast give you just the right about of self-awareness as to motivate you but not so much that you feel hurt, lost or ill. Yom Kippur is about renewal. May you be renewed in both body and spirit for the new year.
Isaiah Haftorah for Yom Kippur
by Rabbi Shefa Gold
Out of my way, out of my way!
Clear away these damn obstacles from the way of my people!
This is what the High and Holy One says,
She says, Yes, I dwell in the High and Holy Places,
Yet you will find me with the lowly ones, the poor and humble,
I am with them to revive their spirits, to lift their hearts,
Sometimes a fighting spirit is necessary to wake you up,
But I won’t be angry forever,
After all, everything is made of my Divine spirit,
Wrapped in the garb of this world,
All is of my making.
But your greediness made me so angry,
I hid myself... so that your hearts might lead you back to me
And then I will heal you, and comfort your mourners,
Peace will come to those who feel far from me,
And to those who are near,
For all will be healed and all will be well.
But those greedy corporate warmongers!
They are like the troubled sea,
Whose waters stir up filth that pollutes the land,
For them there is no safety, there will be no peace.
Cry out! Make a stink for God's sake!
Let the people of this country of yours know
that they're making a big mistake,
They’re your people!
Oh sure, I hear their prayers every day,
They say they want to learn my ways. Hah!
As if you were a people doing righteousness,
Who has not abandoned decency and compassion!
You hold their ears against my voice,
And close your eyes to suffering,
While you ask to learn my way,
All the while saying you want be near me.
They say, "Don't you see we're fasting?
Don't you see how holy we have become?"
But on your fast day you wear clothes
that were made by Chinese prisoners,
And shoes that were cried over
by terrified children in loathsome sweatshops,
And the books you hold in your hands,
are filthy with the tears of dying forests...
And your investments fatten the rich,
who are destroying this land.
You think this is the kind of fast I want?
A day that will feed your self-righteousness?
You call this a fast?!
A day that will please your high and holy God?
Well, I'll tell you what kind of fast I would desire from you...
Unlock the chains of your greed and habit,
Free you from slavery of being blind consumers,
Let the oppressed worker go free
by raising the minimum wage.
It's a disgrace I tell you!
The fast I want is one that will inspire you
to share your food with the hungry,
To redistribute the wealth of this land fairly,
To build affordable housing for the homeless,
And to welcome back the people you have thrown out of your hearts,
Even the ones in your own family.
Then your radiance will burst through like the dawn,
And the miracle of healing will happen suddenly,
And true righteousness will be revealed in your faces,
As God shines through you again.
Then when you call, God will answer gladly,
And when you cry, she will reach out with her presence,
In each moment whispering, Hineni, Here I am!
If you banish corruption, hatred and apathy
from the innermost places of your heart,
If you stop blaming everyone else,
And instead extend your hand to the hungry,
And lift up the ones who have been beaten down
by this unjust system,
Then your light will shine forth, even in the darkness.
The presence of God will guide you always,
That Divine presence will slake your thirst when life seems too dry,
And give strength to your bones when you are weary of the work.
You shall be like a watered garden,
Like a spring whose waters never fail,
From your inspiration people will reestablish
the values that have been desecrated,
And restore the foundations of decency
that have been laid by your ancestors,
And you shall be called "Repairer of Brokenness,"
"Restorer of the Way,"
If only you would truly celebrate Shabbat,
And put down your business, your buying and selling and bargaining and scheming with the resources that were never yours to begin with,
If you would delight in the restful sanity of Pure Being,
Then you are delighting in Me,
Participating in the holiness of God.
Then I will set you on the high places,
So you can get some perspective,
So you can truly enjoy the precious inheritance
of the life I have given you.
This is what God tells me