Hello Dear Friends,
And lovely article from International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
I love understanding more about our Christian roots!! I pray you are encouraged as well.
Yom Kippur – Our Sacred Reminder
September 13, 2013
Dear Friend of Israel,
My Christian friends often express curiosity about Yom Kippur, which begins this Friday at sundown. If forgiveness is available all year round and God hears our prayers of repentance at all times, they ask, why do Jewish people devote one specific day to fasting, prayer, scripture reading, and special synagogue services focused on atonement? Why go to all this effort for something that’s available all the time?
It is a good question that has a simple answer: because the Bible tells us to. Leviticus 16:29–32 states, “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work – whether native-born or an alien living among you – because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins. It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance.”
Behind this biblical mandate lies profound wisdom. When we think about it, there are many things we know we can and should do all the time, but don’t – exercising, eating right, spending meaningful time with our family, volunteering our time and resources to help others. Sadly it often takes a health scare, a rift in a relationship, or some other crisis to get our attention and prompt us to follow through on these acts that we know we need to do for our own good and the good of those around us.
In this way, Yom Kippur is a sacred reminder to examine our souls before we get to a crisis point. It is a time for us to ask ourselves the hard but necessary questions we might otherwise avoid: Are we doing the things God asks of us? Are we avoiding the things He warns will bring us harm? Are we fulfilling all He wants us to be and do, while letting Him be the one in control of our lives?
This kind of internal examination takes time, and requires all our attention. So, during Yom Kippur we abstain from food and drink, and spend the day in synagogue reading passages of Scripture that remind us of what God wants from us. We grieve how we have fallen short, seek forgiveness from those we have wronged, and beseech God for absolution and the blessing of being sealed in His Book of Life for the coming year.
Because living our lives in accordance with God’s word is of utmost importance to us, we observe this most sacred day on the Jewish calendar. And we know we need this day to remind us of what we know to be true and valuable – just like we need the anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Independence Day, and other annual observances that prompt us to pause and ponder what has come before, and what kind of people we want to be moving forward.
When viewed in the proper light, Yom Kippur isn’t arduous or demanding, but a sacred gift from our gracious God. It was instituted by God in order to instill in us humility, forgiveness, and gratitude. And for this we can truly say, as we do at the close of the Yom Kippur service, blessed be His glorious kingdom for ever and ever!
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President
Posting credit: ifcj.org