Isaiah: An Interpretation

man holding book sitting on log appearing to be contemplative

For Yom Kippur Haftarah reading


If we fast today

with no thought

of how we will meet tomorrow

and every day that follows

then this ritual fast is as hollow

as the dry shrunken gourd

from last year’s sukkah,

barren, unmoored

from the lifeblood of meaning,

or, worse,

if our empty stomachs

fill us with the righteous illusion

that today’s hunger alone

makes us good Jews, good people.


We may fast for many reasons

but on this day only one matters:

that this fast, like the blasts of the shofar,

unmoor us

from the familiar place,

the stasis of our packaged selves,

making it impossible for us not to see

what is needed,

making it imperative for us

to share in some manner, in some measure,

the abundance that graces our lives.


If we fast today

with no thought

of how we will meet tomorrow

and every day that follows,

then today is as any other day,

and we might as well return home

and feast on a noonday meal.

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