This blog is based on references in the Bible to fear. God wills that we “BE NOT AFRAID”. Many theologians state that the eighth deadly sin is fear. It is fear and its natural animal reaction to fight or flight that is the root cause of our failings to create a Kingdom of God on earth. By “the power of the Holy Spirit” we can be witnesses and “communicators” of a new and redeemed humanity “even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7 8). This blog is dedicated to Mary the Mother of God.
Kippur (Day of Atonement) is the last day to atone our sins of the Ten Days
of Repentance, which start on the New Year (Rosh Hashanah). This is a fast
mentioned in the Bible and the punishment mentioned for not keeping this fast
is excommunication. Jews seek to 'purify their souls' on this day, by abstaining
from common pleasures. Yom Kippur is celebrated by most all Jewish
denominations. It is a fast day from the eve until the next day nightfall
(twenty-five hours). No food or drink is permissible. It is a day
on which Jews 'afflict the soul', which includes wearing only non-leather
shoes, not combing one's hair and no marital relations. For many Orthodox Jews,
most of Yom Kippur is spent in prayer in the Synagogue. Five prayer
services are held (as opposed to the normal three daily prayers).
is customary to eat a festive meal on the Eve of Yom Kippur with round challah
bread, a meat meal and sustaining foods. One is not allowed to risk one's life
and thus anyone in danger of life from fasting, including the young and sick
are not allowed to fast. Yom Kippur is the only Jewish fast observed on a
Sabbath, due to its importance.
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 (Isaiah 1:18).
Some people wear a Kittel, the white robe in which the dead are buried.
Kippur Liturgy in Orthodox and most Traditional communities include Kol
Nidre prayer in which Jews annul all their vows and Avinu Malkeinu,
'Our father our King'.
last of the Orthodox and traditional five Synagogue services for Yom Kippur is
the Neilah service (final 'closing of the gates'). It is
considered particularly heart-rendering and people often cry during the service.
At the end of the service, a Shofar (ram's horn) is blown and the end of
the day is pronounced.
ask the Lord to be considered both as a child and as a servant. They
request from God that as a father of a child, God have mercy as a father does
over his child.
Kippur, I’ll skip my physical workout for
a spiritual one instead. In fact, Yom Kippur is all about getting beyond our
physical selves, so we can focus solely on doing the difficult, sacred work the
High Holidays demand of us, free from the distractions of our bodies and their
needs. “When we refrain from indulging our physical appetites for a limited
period, in order to devote ourselves for a time more exclusively to demands
that rank higher in our hierarchy of values, we are not denying the physical
appetites their just place in life; we are simply recognizing the need of
putting them in their place.” Although many Jews expect to fast on Yom Kippur,
to help ensure we devote ourselves to a most accurate cheshbon hanefesh (accounting of the
soul), it is customary to refrain from five specific activities related to our
bodies throughout the holiest day of the Jewish year:
1.Eating and drinking:
The majority of our lives take place in our physical selves, which require
sustenance to function optimally. In an effort to get beyond our corporeal body
on this day, we forego
food and drink. Of course, you
should only do what your body can manage in a healthy way. Those who are sick,
pregnant, elderly, or otherwise unable
to fast should not do so
or should do so only in a modified way.
In an earlier era, leather shoes often were among our most comfortable. If
we’re focused on our personal comfort, we can’t also be fully attentive to our
spiritual selves. For this reason, you may notice clergy or other worshippers
sporting canvas sneakers in lieu of leather shoes on Yom Kippur.
3.Bathing and shaving:
Because we are engaging with our souls on this day, cleaning and grooming our
bodies can take a backseat on Yom Kippur.
4.Anointing ourselves with oil,
cream, cologne, perfume, or other balms and salves for physical pleasure
diverts our attention from the spiritual reckoning for which Yom Kippur is
intended. Thus using lotions and the like also is an activity from which we
abstain on this sacred day.
For all the reasons noted above, refraining from sexual relations on Yom Kippur
turns our attention away from our bodies, centering it instead on our actions
and misdeeds of the past year.
abstaining from these activities for the day, we set ourselves up to truly
examine our innermost, intimate beings in a most meaningful way, giving
ourselves an opportunity to explore what we can do differently in the coming
year to tip the balance toward good. When the sun sets on the Sabbath of
Sabbaths, we slowly ease back into our physical selves – returned, revived,
refreshed. Mishkan HaNefesh,
the new Reform machzor (High
Holiday prayer book), eloquently petitions:
May this long day
of fasting and self-denial
inspire acts of creativity, generosity, and joy.
May we go from strength to strength.
throughout the coming year and beyond, may it be our bodies that feed the
hungry, comfort the bereaved, clothe the naked, and bring justice and humanity
to the places they are needed most.