The Growth Mindset of Yom Kippur - Kol Nidre

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Let's face it, the major theme of Yom Kippur prayers -- all those confessions -- can be pretty depressing! Growth Mindset: Unleashing Your Jewish Potential is a sermon that helps put all of these chest-pounding prayers into an uplifting perspective. We strike our heart over and over as we enumerate our misdeeds to drive home the point that although we have made mistakes, we are not defined by them. We can grow from them; we can be better in the future.

As always, the sermon contains anecdotes and humor, including:

  • The Grandmother who figured out how to get the kids to visit
  • The enigmatic Talmudic tale with a moving and inspiring interpretation
  • The strange custom of singing about our sins on Yom Kippur
  • The research at Stanford that helps us understand what makes Teshuvah possible
  • The clever grading technique that changed a failing school
  • The entertaining yet very insightful story of one of our Rebbeim

On Yom Kippur, we come together as a community and we say, we are not failures. Our feet may have run to do bad, our eyes may have looked with envy, but our Neshamah, our soul, has not failed; we simply have not yet reached our goal. But we know it is within our reach. G-d’s forgiveness tells us that; if He can forgive us, then unquestionably, change is possible. Because of that, we will not give up, and we will not despair. Failure is not a verdict on our character; it is a temporary condition that, like a cough, we will overcome.

Because Yom Kippur is a day not just of confession and forgiveness, but of a profound liberation. Atonement means that we can begin again. We are not held captive by the past and our failures. We can move forward. We can help others grow. On this day of days, with joy and a pure heart, let us begin anew.

 

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