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Tuesday, October 8, 2019


YOM KIPPUR begins at sundown


Job, Chapter 3, Verse 25
For what I feared overtakes me; what I dreaded comes upon me.

Job is not just experiencing self-fulfilling prophecy here; he is under a real attack. In chapter two of Job we see[1]:

·         God bragging about Job, and Satan, once again, doesn't buy it.
·         God gives Satan permission to hurt Job physically, something he wouldn't let him do last time. Just don't kill him.

·         Satan's method of choice? Give Job sores from his tippy toes to his noggin. 

·         Job's wife apparently doesn't find this attractive, because she suggests that he curse God and die. But Job refuses to be disloyal.

·         Job's buddies Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad come to visit and chill with him while he rolls around in ash and sackcloth. This is all standard procedure, don't worry.

Then in this chapter Job cries out that he is in pain, and rues the day he was born—poetically, of course.


Yom 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).

Yom Kippur Facts

·         It 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.
·         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 (Isaiah 1:18). Some people wear a Kittel, the white robe in which the dead are buried.
·         Yom 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'.
·         The 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.
·         Jews 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.

Rest[3]

On Yom 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.
2.      Wearing leather: 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.
5.      Sexual relations: 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.

By 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.

Yes, 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. 

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Pray for our nation.


[1]http://www.shmoop.com/book-of-job/chapter-2-summary.html
[2] http://www.wincalendar.com/Yom-Kippur

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