This year, Yom Kippur was from Sunday night through Monday night. That had an impact on what I am writing about, due to the deadline to submit an article for my column. Therefore, most of the column was written before the holiday when I was in Yom Kippur mode.

I have read and heard shiurim that mentioned gedolim (great rabbis) who became frightened about the Yom HaDin, starting from the month of Elul, thirty days before Rosh HaShanah and forty days before Yom Kippur. Unfortunately, I have not yet reached such a level. I cannot recall ever waking up in the middle of the night having anxiety on Yom Kipper or Rosh HaShanah, worrying about what is going to happen. In contrast, I have often woken up in the middle of the night worrying about work-related issues. The most recent occurrence was around 4:00 a.m. the Friday before Yom Kippur.

There is a Gemara which mentions that the amount of money a person is going to earn the following year is determined on Rosh HaShanah. I have also heard that if you decide not to give the proper amount of tzedakah (generally accepted as 10% of your earnings, but you can ask your rabbi), you will not end up with more discretionary money than you would have had. Instead, the money that you should have given to charity will be used for unanticipated expenses such as repairing a motor vehicle or paying a ticket. Therefore, it is better to give the proper amount of tzedakah, which is a mitzvah, and to get credit for doing it, instead of using the money for something that is not a mitzvah.

I think that this also applies to being stressed about Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. You can be like the gedolim and worry about the Day of Judgment. This would hopefully lead to a positive change. If you are not at that level, like me, you end up getting stressed over other things such as work. I did not realize this until this year. From the week we started saying selichos until Rosh HaShanah, I have had more work issues than usual. I did not get the message at Rosh HaShanah. Then it got worse from Tzom Gedaliah to Yom Kippur. During that week, I had the most court appearances in one week I’d ever had. They were in different courts, including one that I had not been to for years. Also, I had to deal with issues involving clients or wards going into the hospital or to a new nursing home. I finally realized that I was being subject to all of this stress because I did not use my stress to do teshuvah.

On a totally different topic. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. I remember I was davening in the Etz Chaim teen minyan in Bayside when one of the men from the main shul came down to tell us that Israel was attacked. He was a Holocaust survivor and a strong supporter of Israel. Recently, someone told me a story that at one conservative synagogue, the rabbi’s son was in the Israeli Army. When it was announced on Yom Kippur that the war had started, the outpouring of support was so great that the amount pledged during the appeal that day paid for an ambulance in Israel. 

At that time, we had no idea how dire the situation was and how unprepared Israel was for the attack. The problem was that the Israeli Army had gotten arrogant because of the lightning success in the Six-Day War six years earlier. They did not take seriously the threat of another Arab attack. Thus, Israeli intelligence did not discover the extensive preparation made by Egypt and Syria prior to the war. It was reported that the Syrians were so surprised at the ease of how they were able to move forward that they thought it was a trick and did not proceed at top speed. Fortunately, Israel had time to regroup and push out the Syrians and Egyptians. Israel needed emergency American military aid. It was a humbling experience. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was forced out of the government, and Prime Minister Golda Meir’s government fell within months. 

It not only shocked Israel, but it reminded American Jews that having a homeland is not a given. Unlike its enemies, if Israel loses one war, it will be its last war. There will be no State of Israel. This is something that Jews who were not alive or were too young to remember the Yom Kippur War don’t appreciate. Therefore, it is important to continuously show our support for Israel and make sure it continues to receive significant American military aid. This is not a given because of some on the left and right who have a common goal to cut or eliminate aid to Israel.

Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.