Rav Benny Lau, Rabbi of the Ramban community in Jerusalem of which I am lucky enough to be a member, told the following moshel as we began slichot 10 or so days ago. He attributed it to another Rabbi (I forget his name) who used it every year in the same way.
Anyone who has heard Rav Benny speak will know that he tells it far better than me but it goes roughly like this:
"A man is lost is in a deep dark forest and is looking for the way out. He fights his way through the undergrowth becoming more and more concerned, not seeing any hope of it thinning; no possible sign of an exit.
He comes to a small clearing and there he spots another man. "Excuse me but I'm lost, do you know the way out?" he asks. The other man slowly shakes his head. "I am also lost" he says, "but come, I will tell you where I have already looked and we can continue to search together".
We spend a certain amount of time in the run up to Yom Kippur and the day itself doing a lot of soul searching, asking how we could have behaved better, comtemplating our relationship with our fellow man and our maker. It is a confusing time with this year more confusing than most; we have witnessed what seems to be an unusual number of natural disasters; the Tsunami in South East Asia, flooding in the States and most recently the earthquake in India and Pakistan. On the home front the disengagement was a time for Cheshbon Nefesh and has left people homeless and are having a crisis of faith as their prayers were not answered.
There are no obvious answers to these feelings of confusion but we may be helped along the way to finding our way out of this jungle by those who are wiser than we; our family, our friends, our spiritual leaders.
Wishing you an easy fast and a Shana veChatima Tova.