The majority of people who hear about Jews fasting on Yom Kippur shrug it off or don’t seem to think much about what goes into depriving yourself from food and water for 24 interminable hours. Yom Kippur is the day of atonement on the Jewish calendar. Every Jewish individual is supposed to abstain from food, drink, washing their bodies and wearing leather footwear. This is a seemingly endless and arduous experience that takes a lot of effort and motivation. Let me break it down for you.
There are five stages that go into the long and painful process of fasting.
Stage number one: Once you devour the feast before temple, and have an enormous foodbelly, you think to yourself, this is going to be a piece of cake. You’ve never been so full and you’re sure it will last you until sundown the next day. You sit at temple with your family and friends, singing prayers with the same mindset. You’re still confident you’ll be fine and sure it will be a lot less painful than last year.
Stage number two: Your foodbelly has passed. Temple has just finished and you’re longing for some dessert. It’s a struggle, but with a simple distraction it can take your mind off of the desire for food. You watch some Netflix and go to bed, ignoring the urge for food.
Stage number three: You wake up the next morning with an empty stomach and a dry mouth, realizing you can’t enjoy any warm chocolate chip pancakes or a refreshing cup of orange juice. You sit in temple early in the morning until the afternoon, your stomach screaming out for help, rumbling and growling angrily. You don’t have any distractions anymore. You’re bored, and what do people do when they are bored? They eat. The only entertainment you have is the rabbi’s voice talking about the fast, which doesn’t help take your mind off of your angry stomach.
Stage number four: Temple’s over, and you’re exhausted, dehydrated and starving. You check your phone and you’re tagged in three instagram posts from Newforkcity by your friends trying to mess with you. Your mouth waters just looking at the photos but you don’t have the energy to get angry at your friends. You laugh to yourself, thinking back to the beginning of the journey and how confident you were that this was going to be easy. You finally go home and beg your family to do the most random things to take your mind off of your stomach and end up playing cards and charades and it helps, but only for a small amount of time.
Stage number five: The feast begins. You grab all the bagels, lox and kug you can and make your way through plate after plate of amazing food. While stuffing your face you appreciate that the long and painful journey is over and that you made it.
Fasting is definitely not easy or fun, but in the end, the reflection and feeling of accomplishment is worth the pain.