Friday, September 21, 2007

Harry's good heart: Not just light, but happiness

Hi everyone! I only have a few minutes to write, but wanted to pass on a quick thought today, Erev Yom Kippur, the day that Yom Kippur starts.

(See here , here , and here and here for other Harry Potter related thoughts on Yom Kippur.)

We read repeatedly that Dumbeldore praises Harry for having a uniquely pure heart. This pure heart enables him to get the socerers stone, and to survive being posessed while Voldemort can't continue to posess him, and ultimately helps him defeat Voldemort at the end of the series.

In traditional Yom Kippur prayerbooks, before Kol Nidrei, there's a tradition to read the verse "Light is sown (saved away) for the righteous, and for the straight hearted, happiness" (or zarua la'tzadik, u'le'yishrei lev, simcha). This is a line that many ignore or miss as they come late for Kol Nidrei, or are simply looking forward to the higher profile Kol Nidrei prayer.

Rabbi Matisyahu Solomon wrote at length about this verse, and to summarize his message, the verse is telling us an important message. We spend the High Holidays thinking about being righteous, and how we can be more righteous. But we need to know that righteousness isn't the highest goal. Above being righteous is being straight-hearted.

Straight-hearted means not just doing the right thing, but having no deceit or ulterior motives or back-handedness in our hearts while we're doing whatever we're doing. There are many people who are righteous but not necessarily straight-hearted. But on Yom Kippur, when we're doing a "gap analysis" to see where we've fallen short in the past, and asking G-d for atonement for any mistakes we've made, it's important to have our eye on the biggest goal, being straight-hearted.

As I wrote above, I don't have time to expand on this, but I think that if we all think about it, and think about the intent behind the conversations in Harry Potter about Harry's pure heart and its importance and uniqueness, we'll have more to think about on Yom Kippur.

I hope everyone has a great Yom Kippur and an easy fast, and that we all have a new year with not only the light (clarity) of righteousness, but the happiness that G-d promises to the straight-hearted.


Unknown said...

We did chant this last night over and over and over....and yet your drash on it deepens it yet again! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Please send references to Rav Solomon's writings.

Also regarding repentence, you did not mention Grindlewald in your list of characters who had shown remorse. When visited by Voldemort, he refused to divulge anything about the wand and appeared to have done some serious repentence.
Chaim Crown, Jerusalem

Bruce Krulwich said...

You're right, I should have included Grindlewald in my list, he certainly repented to some extent, and I think that this was even discussed at one point in the book. Good catch! Repentence is so pervasive in the book!

Rav Solomon wrote (in Hebrew)about "Or Zaruah LaTzadik" in what I think is his only book published while he was at Gateshead (not including small booklets), 15 years ago, titled Matnas Chayim with "Moadim" on the binding, chapter 2.