To Yom or not to Yom

One of my favorite Jewish holidays is the day of Yom Kippur. The very fact that the Jewish people set aside a special day to reflect and pray to God for forgiveness for sins committed throughout the year is kind of a neat idea. Althogh the tenants of the faith ask that you repent as soon as you know of the sin, they know that some sins may be discovered apron reflection of past activities and fasting and praying may bring to light more things that you might want to ask forgiveness for.

Below is an excerpt from the website http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday4.htm:

Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast and/or attend synagogue services on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishri. The holiday is instituted at Leviticus 23:26 et seq.

The name “Yom Kippur” means “Day of Atonement,” and that pretty much explains what the holiday is. It is a day set aside to “afflict the soul,” to atone for the sins of the past year. In Days of Awe, I mentioned the “books” in which God inscribes all of our names. On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in these books is sealed. This day is, essentially, your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends.

As I noted in Days of Awe, Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d, not for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible. That must all be done before Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath; no work can be performed on that day. It is well-known that you are supposed to refrain from eating and drinking (even water) on Yom Kippur. It is a complete, 25-hour fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. TheTalmud also specifies additional restrictions that are less well-known: washing and bathing, anointing one’s body (with cosmetics, deodorants, etc.), wearing leather shoes (Orthodox Jews routinely wear canvas sneakers under their dress clothes on Yom Kippur), and engaging in sexual relations are all prohibited on Yom Kippur.

As always, any of these restrictions can be lifted where a threat to life or health is involved. In fact, children under the age of nine and women in childbirth (from the time labor begins until three days after birth) are not permitted to fast, even if they want to. Older children and women from the third to the seventh day after childbirth are permitted to fast, but are permitted to break the fast if they feel the need to do so. People with other illnesses should consult a physician and a rabbi for advice.

Most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue, in prayer. In Orthodox synagogues, services begin early in the morning (8 or 9 AM) and continue until about 3 PM. People then usually go home for an afternoon nap and return around 5 or 6 PM for the afternoon and evening services, which continue until nightfall. The services end at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the shofar. See Rosh Hashanah for more about the shofar and its characteristic blasts.

It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow (Is. 1:18). Some people wear a kittel, the white robe in which the dead are buried.

Although I am a Christian I think that a annual observance of a holiday that looks at ourselves and reflects on sins that we may have committed towards God or others is a great endeavor and should be observed. I may not be able to get my boss to sign off on the no working part, but reverence can still be achieved with some thought and preparation.

Until Next time, Shalom

tora

Nathan Briggs

Nathan Briggs

Nathan was born in Ogden, UT and has lived the majority of his life in the great state of Utah. He is a proud father of three, and the lucky husband of Kari Briggs. Nathan enjoys all thing outdoors, music, and spending time with his family. He currently works for a transportation company in Salt Lake City as the Director of Information Technologies.

Posted in Family Blog.

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