No one could remember the last time it rained on Yom Kippur, which presaged Parashat Noach--a day of chilly, unrelenting downpour. This seemed to me like a good sign, since the state of the world has gotten worse and worse despite years of beautiful weather on the Yamim Nora'im. Maybe bad weather means that people, along with nature, are ready to behave in an opposite way, as well.
On Wednesday afternoon (just a week and a day ago--it seems like much longer), I stopped work early and shut down my computer and all its humming, glowing ancillary devices. My office got very quiet; the time began to feel different and special. I changed into an all-white outfit (except for a big black winter coat and umbrella, the elements taking precedence over style and symbolism), and went to meet my friend A. for our traditional overstuffed deli meal before beginning the fast. It felt strange to get on the subway with rush-hour crowds. I wanted everyone to stop moving and acknowledge the arrival of Kol Nidre; I wished that the whole world would calm down and listen along.
We ate sandwiches on rye fat enough for twelve, and I downed one final glass of Airborne. I don't know if the stuff really works, but my cold was almost gone and I was too superstitious to miss that last chance to OD on vitamin C. After running back home in the rain to get my entrance card, which I'd carefully placed on a table by the door and forgotten to take, I arrived at the synagogue. Every seat was filled, the air flush with expectation. We wrapped ourselves in our tallitot, the only time of the year when we wear it at an evening service, and waited for the music to begin.