After I completed the Neila prayer I opened my window hoping to hear the final shofar blast that completes the holy day of Yom Kippur. I knew there was a minyan being held across the street and was grateful that the blast faithfully reverberated through the still night air. I thought about the days of yore when the people rejoiced after being informed that the scarlet wool turned white signifying God’s forgiveness. I find it disconcerting that since there is no temple or direct communication from God we have no way of knowing if our Yom Kippur was a success or not.
I try to take comfort in the words of Rav Soloveitchik who says that the essence of the day itself provides atonement. In addition, we are still here and I believe that, in and of itself, is a message from God that we still have the potential to complete our job.
The duality of our purpose places a heavy weight on our shoulders. We try on Yom Kippur to atone as an individual and as a part of the nation. These two facets are tightly wound and interdependent. It is for this reason that most of our prayers are in a plural format.
The scarlet thread turning white depends on the entire nation and I can’t help but wonder what color did we merit tonight? I close my eyes and think about 2000 years of exile and our people constantly trying to make their way through the dark. Some years I am sure the thread would have turned white whilst in other years I am sure we shamefully would have encountered the deep scarlet color of unabsolved sin.
I imagine each thread being woven into a fine cloak that the future high priest will wear as the Levites join us together in the new song that we will sing as we rejoice in the dedication of the third and final Temple that will soon be built. I envision each red thread turning white as we declare in unison “Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad”.
As we declare God’s Oneness we will gain the deepest understanding and blissful clarity that will unite us on an entirely new level. We will then rejoice in our faithful knowledge that the years of suffering have ended because not only is God One but we too are now one as well.