JesusBoat Newsletter - Learn about Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement and exploring Judaic roots
the most holy day of the year
What is Yom Kippur? Quite simply, Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Hebrew year. Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement,” and is biblically mandated in Leviticus 16 with the essence of the occasion found in verses 29 and 30, “On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work—whether native-born or a foreigner residing 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 the day when are closest to God and to the heart of our soul.
When is Yom Kippur? As said in Leviticus, it is the 10th day of the seventh month, making it 10 Tishrei. It is one week after Rosh HaShannah. Because all Judaic holidays are according to the Hebrew calendar, the dates move around on the secular calendar. Therefore, this year Yom Kippur begins at sunset on Friday, the 29th of September and finishes at sunset the 30th of September.
How is Yom Kippur traditionally observed? For nearly 26 hours we “focus our souls” by avoiding the following six actions:
Eating or drinking
Wearing leather shoes
Applying lotions or creams
Washing or bathing
The day is spent in prayer and reflection. For those who have access to a congregation, the day can be spent there attending the five different traditional prayer services.
Additionally, it is custom to read the Book of Jonah on Yom Kippur. This is to remind us that no one is beyond God’s hand, God’s redemption, and God’s love. It is also appropriate to recite Psalms of your choice throughout the day.
How do we prepare for Yom Kippur? The most important preparation is, of course, the preparation of the soul. We build an atmosphere of reverence, repentance, and awe. If you are carrying any grudges, now is the time to sincerely and wholeheartedly let them go. If there is there anyone you may have offended or otherwise hurt, now is the time to ask for their forgiveness. We must approach God with a clear conscience and open spirit. We cannot do this if we have loathing in our hearts.
Just as Yom Kippur is a day of fasting, the day before Yom Kippur is set aside for eating and preparing for this holy day. Here are some of the activities that we do on the day before Yom Kippur:
We eat two festive meals, one in early afternoon and another right before the commencement of the fast.
Extra charity is given.
Just before the fast begins (after the second meal has been concluded), it is customary to bless the children with the Priestly Blessing.
Holiday candles are lit before the onset of the holy day.
After such intense prayer, how to we leave this holy day? After night falls we speak the Shema prayer: “Hear O Israel: God is our Lord, G-d is one.” Then we erupt in joyous song and dance, after which a single blast is blown on the shofar, followed by the proclamation, “Next year in Jerusalem.”
We then partake of a festive after-fast meal, making the evening after Yom Kippur a yom tov (festival) in its own right.
Indeed, although Yom Kippur is the most solemn day of the year, it is suffused with an undercurrent of joy; it is the joy of being immersed in the spirituality of the day and expresses confidence that God will accept our repentance, forgive our sins, and seal our verdict for a year of life, health and happiness.
interested in Judaic roots....
Did you enjoy learning about Yom Kippur?
If you are interested in including Judaic roots on your spiritual walk, we recommend considering these devotional items.
The Shofar Rams or Kudu horn used as a call to prayer.
Kiddush Cup Ceremonial cup used to bless the wine on Shabbat and holidays.
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