Religious Fasting and Stroking God

by Mark Gottlieb  Sep 19, 2013

The holiest holiday in Judaism, Yom Kippur is a day of fasting and seeking of atonement through repentance. It is a day of returning to ourselves, God, and humanity. This year, I experienced this holy day like an OM. The grounding stroke, the first point of contact, was Kol Nidre—the soul rending chanting of the great prayer of Spanish Jews after the Inquisition in 16th century Spain. The prayer was said to nullify vows made under great duress. Following our desire is a nullification of the “vows” we have taken on that bind and constrain us. Friday night, the teachings of orgasm enabled me to nullify those vows taken under duress and instead follow my desire. stock-footage-candles

Saturday morning I went to services. I came late and joined many at prayer in the Mission Minyon, my new-found place of worship. I sat in the extreme back of the sanctuary, noticing but not noticed. I wondered further about the OM in Yom Kippur. Were we collectively stroking God to hear and receive the entreaties of our prayers: the Vidui or Confessional; the Al Het or calling out of our sins; the oft repeated Adoni, Adoni… the rendering of the divine name by its attributes? Or were we the strokees?

A break came in the services after 5 hours of prayer. The Torah readings before moved me and I kissed both Torahs as they were paraded before and after the Torah service. I was the only one to do so, standing out from the more refined gestures of the religiously observant. Rule breaking has always been a principle of orgasm.

A class took place during the break: “God known to us through our intellect as taught by the Rambam, a 12th century Jewish philosopher.” I queried her after the class: if God is known only through intellect and our judgment, Why do we pray, To Whom do we pray, and What do we pray for? She confessed not having an answer. Just as orgasm teaches us, certain things can not be understood through the intellect but only through experience.

The service resumed and I stood for 45 minutes during the closing ceremony that ended with the piercing cry of the Shofar, the Ram’s horn, the ancient trumpet of Israel serving as the final downstroke. The last grounding pressure of the OM. The service over, we gathered for a break-the-fast community event, and I gorged on two lox and cream cheese bagels. Frames were shared.

I wondered about the OM I had just had. Was it sacrilege to think in these terms? Regardless, I felt more this Yom Kippur. Sensations coursed through me as I surrendered to the prayers and the singing, with their unusual melodies unique to Yom Kippur. The Hebrew was brighter and rang with a timbre all its own. Perhaps the essence was in my surrender more than my comprehension of the well-defined container of this ancient practice.