Penitents are like voters. They face critical choices, ones that will set the course of their lives, and must make them in a situation of uncertainty. Committed voters try to grope through the fog of rhetoric in order to understand the true wills and predilections of the candidates they must choose from; penitents seek to dispel the mystery and ambiguity that cloaks the divine in order to understand what God wants of their lives.
But when I look around me this year, three days before Yom Kippur and a month before the American elections, I have a feeling that a lot of Jewish penitents and American voters are not using an essential tool that they need to make their choices. I mean irony.
Irony? Doesn’t that have something to do with punch lines? Is the choice of the leader of the free world and the acknowledgment and correction of one’s sins a joke?