Every synagogue in Jerusalem is full.

I am but one body in a sea of congregants. The crowd sways gently, chanting with quiet solemnity. It is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, the day we implore our Creator to forgive our transgressions and purify our souls. The faint echo of the Yom Kippur prayers drifts into the streets. There is no traffic besides for the clusters of worshippers clad in flowing white garments.

Suddenly, the atmosphere of the room is transformed. Amid the wave of remorseful murmurs, a joyous song emerges. The melody flows through the room until the entire congregation is energized. The medley of diverse voices throbs with pride and jubilation.

The notes were hauntingly beautiful, but they seemed out of place“Ki anu amecha v’Atah Elokeinu
Anu vanecha v’Atah avinu . . .”

[For we are Your people and You are our G‑d
We are Your children and You are our Father . . .]

I was taken aback. The notes were hauntingly beautiful, but they seemed out of place. Aren’t such expressions of joy unsuited to a day with such grave themes as sin and repentance? Trying to make sense of it, my mind wandered back to something I’d learned the week before . . .

Since virtually the beginning of time, sin has existed in the world. With one simple submission to human desire—a taste of the fruit forbidden to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden—the negative inclination was implanted into the heart of man. Had Adam and Eve resisted for only a few more hours, the world’s purpose would have come to fulfillment. All of existence would have basked in the revealed glory of its Creator for eternity.

The magnitude of Adam and Eve’s offense was greater than any we could imagine committing today. Their actions alone altered the universe from its state of perfection to one of ambiguity. With their sin, the world became a place of good and evil.

Most of us can empathize with Adam and Eve. We all have moments of frailty, when the tug of war between our mind and our heart feels like too much to bear. Doubt washes over us, and we become our own stumbling block. The worst part of it, in the end, is the knowledge that we could have done the right thing if only we had tried harder.

As a child, I ran to my parents during those times. Things never seemed as bleak through their eyes, possibly because they always saw who I really was beyond the struggles I was experiencing. I think that even as adults, we seek to be coddled by the inherent truth in the unconditional love of a parent-child relationship: that although actions matter a lot, sometimes it’s not about what you do. It’s about who you are.

The holiday of Yom Kippur is one of joy, because our intrinsic bond with our Creator is the primary focusYom Kippur is a poignant reminder of this. G‑d is our Father, we are His children, and therefore He forgives. He sees the potential within us; He knows it is within our grasp to complete Adam and Eve’s story by bringing the world back to a state of ultimate perfection.

The holiday of Yom Kippur is one of joy, because our intrinsic bond with our Creator is the primary focus. Simply knowing that He forgives us grants us the strength to accomplish what may be the hardest thing of all: forgiving ourselves.

The synagogue crowd disperses. Tomorrow, its members will reconvene, each with our own life to lead and our own role to play. We’ll experience ups and downs, and at times we will stumble as the world spins beneath our feet. We’ll travel to the end of the earth and back, and at the end of the day we will still be the children of our Creator.

Now, that’s something to sing about!