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    I stood for Ne’ilah

    We all have our own High Holyday customs. I have two in particular.

    One is that only on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur do I daven with my tallit over my head.

    I know how this originated. As a synagogue rabbi I was so busy looking at the timetable and prayer-leader lists, and watching the synagogue and the congregation, that I had inadequate time for my own davening. So I closed myself off from distractions and work on my own spiritual life, and that led me to cover my head with my tallit.

    The second minhag I followed without imposing it on the congregation was standing throughout Ne’ilah (I think I should have done so throughout Yom Kippur but that’s another matter).

    Standing during a synagogue service is a commitment to correct posture in the presence of God.

    When it comes to Ne’ilah there are two challenges – to recall the ne’ilat sh’-arim – the closing of the gates of the Temple, and the closing of the gates of Heaven (Jerusalem Talmud, Ber. 4:1).

    Both remind me that I have to make a supreme effort at prayer whilst the gates are still open.

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