Saturday, October 10, 2009

Faster, Faster

A couple of weeks ago was Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. It was when Jews all over the world begged God and each other for forgiveness for the sins they had committed during the previous year.

Now I must take this opportunity to explain that I have remained sin-free since 2006.  Don't ask.  Suffice to say that it takes more than a modicum of sound judgment and self-control to pull off successfully.  In any event, the results limit my perspective on most of the traditions surrounding Yom Kippur to that of an outsider.

The only exception to this is the tradition of fasting, in which I participate enthusiastically.  This is not one of those namby-pamby, no-meat-on-Fridays or let's-give-up-raspberry-cheescake-for-40-days "fast" either.  Nay, this is a don't-let-a-single-morsel-of-food-touch-your-lips sort of deal.  It is not for the faint-of-heart. Or stomach, for that matter.

Why then do I fast?  The main reason is to express solidarity with the sinners.  Similar motivation had me being supportive of the Lech Walesa-led strikes in Poland during the 1980s.  I did not live in Poland at the time, nor was I able to find it on a World Map.  However, this did not stop me from declaring, "I'm with Lech!" at the various parties I attended.  Surprisingly, my statement of conviction did not help me find dates.  Or even be invited to more parties.  But that is for another blog post (likely titled, "The Lonely Years").

But I digress.

Fasting needs to be a well-planned endeavor.  The key to a successful fast actually goes back to the night before; i.e., "The Binge".  It is important, like the Great Grizzly, to adequately stuff yourself so full of food that you easily can survive the actual fasting period without having your body attempt to digest itself.  Some care is needed, however.  Gorge yourself too much and you will wind up with what I like to call, "The Purge"--in effect, starting your fast some 12 hours too early.

Then comes the easiest part of the fast; i.e., "The Sleeping Hours".  This is self-explanatory.

The next interval, and also the biggest challenge, is what I like to call, "The Normal Eating Hours".  For some reason, this is always the part of the day when I begin to question my desire to support the sinners and even Lech Walesa.  Making fasting an even more difficult endeavor is TV's desire to multiply food commercials ten-fold.  Clearly, TV programmers and Ad execs are not Jewish.

(However, for those who have sinned extra hard the previous year, there is always The Cooking Channel and The Food Network for your self-flagellating pleasure.)

Not eating would be an unpleasant enough experience.  Compounding the difficulty, however, is the chronic bad breath that seems to accompany it--no matter how many times you brush your teeth.  I imagine it could be akin to having an ocelot decay in your mouth, although I cannot be sure.  Ocelots are notoriously difficult to find in these parts and even fewer would actually agree to participate in this kind of experiment.

Later on come both the headaches and the irritability.  This combination often leads others (not me--see above) to commit a whole slew of new sins, mostly directed against spouses and small children.  Thus providing fodder for next year's Day of Atonement, and in some people's cases, a lifetime of Yom Kippurs to come.

Talk about self-fulfilling prophesies.  There's a religious joke in there somewhere, but I am too pious to look for it.

See?  That is how I remain on the outside.


Jeff said...

I have attended several Passover Seder dinners (I guess I'm phrasing that correctly.) but I didn't know much about Yom Kippur. Now I know everything there is to know about it, thanks to your educational blog.

Dave said...

Jinkies! Not only is this blog more fun than not eating for 24 hours, but you can also learn something before it's all done!

Forgive me for not using THAT to entice new readers.

Nicole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicole said...

Sam (11 years old) could not understand the whole bad breath thing. He fasted also, so was incredibly clingy by the end, yet still had energy to give me a hard time. Could not agree with you more about the "cranky sins" that get committed.

Dave said...

Hey, denying an 11-year-old food. Surprised Special Services for Children didn't come knocking.

And cranky? You'd be surprised how cranky MY children get when I refuse to feed them for a day or two.

Heather Cherry said...

Lol, the Sleeping Hours. Great post, Dave! And congrats on being sinless.

I tried to fast one time. I think I lasted about 5 hours before I caved and heated up a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli.

Dave said...

Eating Chef Boyardee Ravioli is a sin worth fasting for.


David said...

Does chewing up food and then spitting it out count? I've always wondered. Probably not, huh? Then 100's of thousands of Jews every year would be treat Yom Kippur like a day to act like an anorexic supermodel.

Dave said...

In truth, chewing up your food and spitting it out "only counts" if you are a mother bird. Nature blog is the next one over, by the way.

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Yes, but think of the great dinner at sunset! Hitting an all-you-can-eat buffet after temple!

Dave said...

True Story: After 24+ hours of fasting, a person's stomach shrinks appreciably. People are not mindful of this when engorging themselves after the fast.

4 incidents of post-Yom Kippur exploding was reported this year alone.

How many go unreported each year? We may never know...