Is such the fast I desire,
A day for men to starve their bodies?
Is it bowing the head like a bulrush
And lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call that a fast,
A day when the Lord is favorable?
No, this is the fast I desire:
To unlock the fetters of wickedness,
And untie the cords of the yoke
To let the oppressed go free;
To break off every yoke.
It is to share your bread with the hungry,
And to take the wretched poor into your home;
When you see the naked, to clothe him,
And not to ignore your own kin.
Fasting, then is intended to encourage social justice, to arouse one to free the oppressed, to feed the hungry, to house the homeless. But from my own experience and that of others I've spoken to, this lesson of Yom Kippur is often obscured as we sit in services with dry mouths and rumbling stomachs. My goal is often to simply make it through the day, since I am unaccustomed to skipping a meal. In fact, you could say that I am fastidious about eating healthful, well balanced meals at fairly regular intervals. And while I find that fasting gets easier as I get older, I find it harder and harder to recover from long periods of hunger. Studying nutrition has taught me that biochemically there are major shifts in metabolism that occur over periods of time without food. Fasting has taught me that psychologically there are major shifts as well.