While some pious Jews swing a live chicken over the heads of their loved ones during the pre Yom Kippur ritual of Kapparot that takes place today, my father, during my childhood, preferred a check book. My mother remembers cash. It’s been a while since he’s done it. It’s an odd ritual no matter what – fowl or fish or cash – the concept is left over from ye Jewish pagan days of magic as a tactile, tribal hands-on substitution. All the ‘bad stuff’ from this past year is transferred into the designated sacrifice – live animal or amount of money, which is then recycled to feed others in need. Something like that.
And while we used to make fun at my father for preferring the cold cash or check over the ‘authentic’ chicken, I actually now think that he got it right. On two accounts. One – and more and more PETA inspired action supports this – enough with the poor chickens already. It’s gross, it’s ancient cruelty and we’ve evolved. Second – it IS about money. So much of our ‘bad stuff’ – so many of our sins, transgressions, crimes, greeds, needs, and pains are money-related. We DO need a ritual that will help us pause for a moment and reflect and ponder and release some of the tensions and fears and anger and fury that surrounds the issue of money in our lives, our very livelihood in fact. Here I am living in a country whose currency boasts ‘In God We Trust’ – but when it comes to money? More than the 99% have an issue with this so called trust. We all need at least an annual atonement. A moment or a ritual to make meaning of the monetary source of joy and stress in our lives.
For me, this year, the money related stress is serious. And with it – the real need to trust that things will be ok. For various reasons that have little to do with me but are now firmly on my to do list, the company that I have built and nurtured for 14 years is in debt, for the first time ever. My own source of income is unclear for the coming year. For the first time in my adult life I’m not sure how I’ll be able to pay rent this coming year, and how we’ll make it past December. I’m trying to shake off the shame and discomfort of public admission. These are facts, and it’s hard, and whose fault right now is not the issue. The anxiety is real, the worry is real and the solutions are obvious if not so simple to complete. It takes trust – and a lot of hard work. And the trust and kindness of others.
I want to complete this PREPENT journey with more focus, joy and clarity. That is why we’ve been traveling here for almost 40 days. So today, here is my ritual for kaparot – substitutions.
1. Take out your wallet and empty its contents on your desk
2. Clean the wallet, get rid of excess stuff like receipts or notes, or disused credit cards.
3. Choose one token currency – a coin or a bill or a credit card or check with a designated amount in mind.
4. Hold in your hand for a full minute (swinging over your head is optional) and think or mumble something like this:
” I am grateful for what I have. I am aware of all the angst and fear and stress that is associated with money that I carry in my body from this past year. I release these emotions into this amount of money and I will use it to make someones’ life better and easier. May this next year bring me more ease, joy, generosity and abundance, stress free.”
Or something like that.
Then go make life someones’ life easier with that money, no matter the amount.
In God We Trust. And in each other.