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Shimona's Blog

1 Aug 2017

Fasting for Social Change

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2011-08-02 15.04.42What is the day asking of us? Sure, today is a fast day. But what is a “desirable” fast?

Most often going through the motions is easier than doing the deep work. I thought I’d post us a reminder of where we’re aiming.

First four lines of history:

Today, the Ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, marks 3327 years of tragedy. We remember an entire generation decreed to die in the wilderness, the destruction of two temples, a people exiled from England in 1290 and then Spain in 1492. Unfortunately, I could go on.

And so we fast. But how? What’s the internal process?

Here’s an excerpt from Isaiah, the traditional reading for the Day of Atonement.  I could add commentary just for the sake of it. I think though that these powerful words speak for themselves.

The prophet shares that the people cried out and asked G-d why their fasting went unanswered.

This is What it Means to Truly Fast

“Look and see. On your fast day you seek your own pleasure and oppress your workers. You fast to quarrel and fight, and to hit with a wicked fist. You do not fast today to make your voice heard on High.

Have I chosen such a fast?…

Is not this the fast that I have chosen?

To lose the bonds of the wickedness, to undo the bonds of oppression, to let the crushed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and to take the outcast poor into your home? To clothe the naked and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will come soon. Your righteousness will go before you, G-d’s glory backing you. Then you will call and G-d will answer. You will cry and He will say, Here I am.

If you take away the yoke of oppression from your midst, the scornful finger, and slanderous speech.

If you open your heart to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then your light will shine in the darkness, and your gloom as the noonday.

G-d will always guide you, and satisfy your soul in drought and relieve your bones. You will be like a water garden, a never-ending spring of waters. Your ancient ruins will be rebuilt; you will restore the foundations of many generations; you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.

If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day; but call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of G-d, honorable; and honor it, not doing your business or seeking your own pleasure, or speaking idle talk; Then you will find delight in G-d and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of your father Jacob; for G-d’s mouth has spoken it.

Isaiah 58:3-14

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