Praying with Sinners / LeHitpallel im HaAvaryanim

Have you ever felt that you did something so wrong that you deserved to be excluded from a group or an experience? This short passage sets the mood for the Kol Nidrei service at the beginning of Yom Kippur. The Talmud states that any fast that does not include "the sinners of Israel" is not a true fast, because we need a full representation of the diversity of our people in order to be a part of an authentic process of repair. Everyone has done something wrong in the past year, and so we include all parts of ourselves and acknowledge our flaws by reciting this passage.

עַל דַּֽעַת הַמָּקוֹם וְעַל דַּֽעַת הַקָּהָל. בִּישִׁיבָה שֶׁל מַֽעְלָה וּבִישִׁיבָה שֶׁל מַֽטָּה. אָֽנוּ מַתִּירִין לְהִתְפַּלֵּל עִם הָעֲבַרְיָנִים:

With the consent of the Almighty, and consent of this congregation, in a convocation of the heavenly court, and a convocation of the lower court, we hereby grant permission to pray with transgressors.

Reflecting:

  • What do you need in order to feel that you have permission to participate in a religious experience?
  • The passage in the Talmud (Keritot 6b), mentioned above, that describes what makes a true fast is actually talking about the ingredients used to create the incense that was burned in the temple. The recipe for this incense included at least one spice that smells terrible on it's own, just as you might bake a cake and include some ingredients that would taste awful if eaten individually. Can you think of ways or spaces in which you try to include people who might not be your favorite to interact with on a one-on-one basis? Why have you done so - or, when have you chosen not to do so? Why might being inclusive be a condition for setting up this Yom Kippur experience?
  • When you think about the people who might surround you - physically or virtually - during a prayer experience, what would you want those people to have in common with one another?
  • If there was one "club" you could opt out of - one habit or trait that you possess that you feel prevents you from being a better version of yourself - what would it be?