Every summer I think it is going to get better. But each year I am proven wrong. Traffic is an absolute nightmare.

I thought it was bad in Los Angeles growing up, but each Michigan summer presents an endless series of major construction zones. And this summer was no exception.

In one of my recent interminable driving trips to the local post office, I took a deep breath and asked myself the only question I could muster: “What is this traffic mess trying to teach me?”

Parshat Yom Kippur: Leviticus 16:1-34, Numbers 29:7-11.

And then it hit me. Perpetual detours and never-ending construction zones represent a perfect metaphor for our lives that are constantly under reconstruction and, if not, they should be. None of us is a finished product, and each one of us can benefit from a little adjustment here and there. Thankfully, Yom Kippur is primarily for emotional and spiritual reconstruction, an exercise in soul searching that prompts us to get on the road that can lead us to a much better place in our lives.

Albert Einstein once said, “To keep our balance, we must keep moving.” Yom Kippur is a day for moving, not getting stuck in the pothole or going 100 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone. It is a day for moving forward, slowly and thoughtfully. It is the supreme moment for returning home by recentering, reprioritizing and rediscovering the true essence of our souls while repairing those elements in our lives that have become broken or shattered.

So I humbly suggest just a few “repair” tips as we seek to dust off and shine up our souls on this complex road of life:

  • Develop a general sense of where you want to go — have the ultimate destination and goal in mind.
  • Make certain you are sending to family and friends the signal you intend to portray, especially when it comes to body language and facial expressions.
  • Check your mirrors often. Sometimes the only thing worse than a bad mirror is a good one. There is no question that admitting a mistake is as important as sharing a success. As it says in Proverbs 28:13: “Conceal your faults and you will not prosper.”

In every way, Yom Kippur urges us to be vigilant in not overusing our cruise control. While it is sometimes convenient for long journeys over smooth, familiar terrain, repairing our relationships and living our very best lives means we must honestly face the bumps and bruises that come along the way.

The best news is this: Once the orange barrels are removed, the detours lifted and the repairs accomplished, we can look forward to smoother roads and more direct commutes in the year ahead.

May we all use this Yom Kippur to get back on the proper pathway and, in so doing, may we open ourselves up to achieving greater heights than we ever even imagined.


Rabbi Joseph H. Krakoff is senior director of Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network.