Soul Colonics

Get your SKINNY on in less time than it takes to count to 120.


(the pitch)

This week’s Torah reading is called, Vayelech (vah-yay-lech), which means: and he went because it recounts the last day of Moses’ life. Six Feet Under SKINNY’s know that Moses learned he would die before entering the Land of Israel. (Read this SKINNY if you miss Six Feet Under too.) No need to fret prematurely, mournful SKINNIES. Moses stays around for a couple more Torah chapters.


(the over think)

Moses is one of the Torah’s most respected heroes. Quintuplet SKINNIES know that he was so revered that the Torah’s books are called the Five Books of Moses. (If you don’t know who Moses is: OMG – and we mean that literally – Oh. My. God. You’re really late to the party and have a lot of catching up to do. Start reading from this SKINNY.) Recognizing that he won’t be entering the Land of Israel with our peeps and that his death is near, in this week’s Torah reading, Moses tells them: “Today I am 120 years old. I can no longer go or come….” Whether literal or metaphoric, living to 120 years old implies that Moses lived a really long life. In Moses’ honor, it’s a custom to say to people on their birthdays: Od me’ah v’esrim (owed-may-ah v’es-ream), which literally means: until 120 and idiomatically: May you live a long and respected life, like Moses!


(to be in-the-know)

In this week’s reading, Moses passes the CEO role as our peeps’ leader onto Joshua. (Joshy SKINNIES know that Joshua was the honest boy scout who surveyed the Land of Israel and was subsequently selected to be Moses’ successor. Read this SKINNY, if you want to be scouty and read this one if you forgot about Joshua’s promotion.)


(bookmark. reflect. share)

Yom Kippur (yome key-poor) – the Day of Atonement – begins this year at sundown on October 11th. Last year, Team SKINNY wrote this about the holiday: Yom Kippur is a solemn holiday devoted to looking for the parts of our soul we’ve lost over the past year. Imagine: You can’t find your cell phone. You ask your friend to call it so you can follow the ring. Oh, shoot! You turned the volume down at your kid’s piano recital this morning. Dang! Where’d you have it last? Wasn’t it just in your hand a minute ago? That’s Yom Kippur in a nutshell – err a phone case – but instead of our cell phones being lost, it’s our souls that have the ringer turned down and it’s us who are lost. On good days during the past year, we’ve been on point. We know who we are and have stayed true to ourselves. On bad days, we’ve messed up. On Yom Kippur, we don’t brag about the good days, but rather add up and take an accounting of our mess-up days. Did we lose our temper too many times with our unruly teenager? Did we forget to give extra lovin’ to our spouse? Were we insensitive to a friend? Did we blow off Cardio-Tone too many times? Go ahead: Add ‘Em Up! But, don’t beat yourself up by focusing on the number of mess-ups (too many to count, anyway). SAY YOU’RE SORRY to those you love, to those you don’t love, and to YOURSELF! And then, move on. Focus your attention intently and passionately on how you can do better this year. Deep breaths when your daughter is driving you crazy… Order Munchery for your spouse so she/he doesn’t have to cook dinner tonight (just because)… Tell your BFF why she/he is your BAE… Get your glutes to the gym! 
This is why Yom Kippur is known as the Day of Atonement and is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. It’s also why we fast for 25-hours (an extra hour just in case…) beginning just before sunset on the evening of Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the following day. Fasting is meant to help us set aside our physical desires and concentrate, instead, on our spiritual needs through prayer, repentance, and self-improvement. The Big Guy (God) only forgives us for sins we’ve made against God, and only if we pray, atone, and give to charity. So, start writing those checks and give a lot more than you usually do! To atone for sins against another person, we have to go right to the source and ask them directly for forgiveness. Since this must be done before Yom Kippur, it’s customary in the days leading up to the holiday to ask friends, family, colleagues, and even your in-laws (!) for forgiveness.
The whole process is called teshuvah (te-shoo-vah), which means: to return because we’re supposed to be returning to our true, good selves. During the 10 days between the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, we regret our mess-ups, resolve to never do them again, and ask (or in some cases, beg) for forgiveness. Then we wash, rinse, and repeat the process all over again next year. During teshuvah, we also throw away our mess-ups through a process called tashlich (tah-shh-leech), which comes from the Hebrew word meaning to cast because we cast out our sins by throwing them into a moving body of water (river, stream, lake, pond, ocean) and shake out the metaphoric crumb-sins from our pockets. Some people put bread in their pockets to make it feel more literal and the Mallard ducks appreciate it! We cast out our sins and the moving body of water carries them away! Voila! It’s a tangible way of doing teshuvah. And it feels really good too! Try it!
During this time, God judges us and enters our fate for the year into the metaphoric Book of Life. Yom Kippur is our last ditch appeal to make amends and demonstrate repentance so we can change God’s judgment before the Book is slammed shut for the year. Leonard Cohen’s “Who by Fire” song conveys it hauntingly. And while we’re on the topic of sin — there isn’t really a word for it in Jewish tradition. It’s more like “missing the mark”. God gives us the benefit of the doubt…we tried to do our best, really.


(to chew on)

Team SKINNY’s Yom Kippur greeting guide:
G’mar Chatimah Tovah (g’mar chah-tea-mah toe-vah), which literally means: finish, written, good and idiomatically: May you be written in the Book of Life for a Good Year!
Or you can say: G’mar Tov/ah (g’mar toe-v; to a man, and g’mar toe-vah; to a woman), which literally means: finish good and idiomatically: May you have a good end to this year!
It’s also a custom to wish someone a “Good Fast” or an “Easy Fast” – implying that their soul cleansing will be easy because they don’t have a lot of mess-ups to account for in the previous year. (Somehow, that never happens to any of us on Team SKINNY!)
(Read last year’s SKINNY for more on Yom Kippur.)



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