Yom Kippur: Acknowledging The Mitzvahs We Performed

Several years ago, I wrote a  blog post, called For The Mitzvahs We Perform when I had just learned about Joseph Teluskin’s idea that instead of only asking forgiveness for the transgressions we have done in the past year we can also celebrate the mitzvahs we have performed. It is a simple idea but one I love.

So what mitzvahs have you performed this year? Have you given your time, money or stuff to another human being or organization. Have you held the door, made a silent prayer for someone in an ambulance, apologized to your children whose feelings you have hurt unfairly, returned a lost object to its owner, helped someone find work or have you refrained from doing something dishonest or hurtful. I bet you have. Perhaps you have even noticed your child, spouse or friend doing the same. When we put our attention on something it increases. This year perhaps you can move your attention away from all of your transgressions and begin to think about all of the mitzvahs you have or can perform.

We say: G’mar Hatimah Tova. May you be inscribed (in the book of life) for good.


Birthday Mitzvah received

My 40th birthday was last week on Yom Kippur. It was actually probably the best Yom Kippur I have ever had. The fast was easy and I felt great the whole day. I guess attitude is everything. Plus I had the opportunity to read several passages from the prayer book that reiterated the idea of doing acts of kindness. I don’t remember any of them verbatim but that idea was that every little thing effects the world and it’s all good. (My translation is obviously not as eloquent as the prayer book authors but you get the idea.) I sometimes think this 1000 mitzvah blog is crazy and wonder what am I doing tracking all these little things, but I also love noticing an opportunity to do a kindness and actually doing it. I know I am better because of all these little mitzvahs.

764) Drove a friend to and from synagogue for services.

765) Donated money at the supermarket for a local food bank.

766) Picked up trash on the floor at the synagogue/conference center after services. My friend noticed and commented. I know when I see someone doing a good deed I often notice and feel happy about it.

767) Called after a gentleman at synagogue who had dropped his kippah or yarmalke – a head covering worn by men at synagogue – he was so grateful and thanked me, it looked handmade.

768) Donated food to a local food bank as part of the food drive on Yom Kippur.

769) Volunteered at picture day at my kids school.

On my birthday, I got multiple phone calls and emails from family and friends wishing me a happy birthday, which I was very happy to recieve. I think when we remember things that are happening in other people’s lives it makes people realize they are important to us. My favorite call that day was from an aquaintance I know through my networking group, she was working on the groups newsletter and writing up everyone’s birthday for the month. She realized that it was actually the day of my birthday and called to wish me a happy birthday. That’s the sort of crazy thing I would do too and I was very touched and told her so!

A Happy New Year

It’s October. I love October because the leaves are changing (atleast when I grew up on the East coast they did) and it’s my birthday month. This year I will be turning 40. I am excited and thrilled to have reached this milestone. Ironically, my birthday falls on an auspicious day in the Jewish calendar this year. It’s on a holiday called Yom Kippur. This holiday concludes the Days of Atonement. It is a day of fasting, prayer and introspection. When I realized a couple of years ago that my birthday would fall Yom Kippur when I turned 40, I was pretty upset, but as I am nearing this birthday now I am actually okay with this. I think it is a wonderful coincidence. Around 40, you become more introspective anyway so it makes sense that this year I will be “celebrating” that occasion with a day completely focused on that.

752 & 753) Sent out a condolence card and made a donation for someone who recently lost a child family member.

754) Sent out a condolence card to a friend whose brother died.

755) Recently a receptionist did a special favor for me and the next day I brought her a little thank you note and token of my appreciation. She seemed very surprised and touched.

756) My daughter and I had a funny discussion last week about whether this was a mitzvah. She thought it was! I picked up my kids and brought them home as usually, we settled in to do our homework only to realize my daughter had forgotten her book and homework at school. I offered to take her back to school to retrieve what she needed for her assignments. She of course was very grateful.

757) Bought a cake from a young woman who was selling them as a fundraiser.

758) Called the Rebbetzin to check in.

759) Used a recyclable bag at the grocery store.

760) Sent a get well card to a friend out of town who had surgery.

761) Sent a get well card to someone who’d had surgery and was recovering.

762 &763) Recommended to two people a professional association meeting that I thought might be beneficial.

Received two mitzvahs this week. We were out to see a play on Saturday night and afterwards stopped at a restaurant to see if we could get a special dessert. The restaurant had already closed for the night but not only did the owner give me some of the special dessert, he didn’t charge me!! We were with some friends so all of us witnessed this mitzvah.

Received a call from a non Jewish friend to wish me a Happy New Year. That was a wonderful mitzvah.

For the Mitzvah we performed…

On the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur we spend an entire 24 hour period, praying and thinking about all of the different transgressions we have committed in the previous year. We have spent the previous 10 days since the holiday of Rosh Hashanah speaking to others whom we have done wrong to ask forgiveness from them and it culminates with Yom Kippur when we now ask God to forgive us. Personally, I have often found this holiday to be a cleansing one and usually treat the time of the year with the seriousness I believe it deserves.

A couple of years ago, I got a copy of a wonderful different kind of a prayer from the traditional “Al Chet” prayer which specifically forces us to confront the things we have done wrong by listing several options in full detail. Author and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin created a similar list only his is called for the Mitzvah We Have Performed. This year, I pulled out my worn copy and was pleased to read the mitzvahs. I felt a special connection to them and also that this year I had indeed accomplished many of them. I also enjoyed picking up a new one that I have since acted on a couple of times. It was for the mitzvah we performed when we heard an ambulance siren and offered a prayer to God on behalf of the sick person inside.

I hope you will find many mitzvahs to perform this year as well.