Yom Kippur is much more than a tradition. It reflects a deep, internal state in human development. Therefore, a year is considered as a cycle of changes we go through.
When we decide that we need to change—that our current self-aimed and individualistic approach to life needs shifting to one guided by connection, love and bestowal—then it is considered as the beginning of the new year: Rosh Hashanah , the beginning of change. We then start judging ourselves. We are used to judging our actions , but what we really need to judge are our intentions , especially in relation to people.
The holiest day in Judaism.
This light is actually what performs our self-examination. In other words, if a person is left to his own devices, he will most likely fall into the common trap of self-justification, which blocks self-change. This self-examination is the essence of what takes place on Yom Kippur. The Jewish holidays discuss stages in the corrections of our intentions, which change our inborn, egocentric intentions into divine intentions of love and bestowal. These corrections enable us to enter into more and more positive connection with each other, and by doing so, experience a fuller, happier, more peaceful and harmonious world.
Essentially, Yom Kippur signifies the need to put ourselves aside and act for the sake of others. The story of the prophet Jonah that is customarily read on Yom Kippur captures the essence of the holiday, that we need to put ourselves aside and act for the benefit of others. The story of the prophet Jonah begins with a mission he receives from God: to warn the people of Nineveh that they need to repent their evil ways, to change their relations from unfounded hatred to love of others. However, Jonah is displeased with this mission.
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He escapes it by boarding a ship and sailing overseas. His escape sets off a storm. In the sea, Jonah gets swallowed by a big fish. Afterwards he is ejected to land, and heads to Nineveh. Just like Jonah, the Jewish people have an unavoidable role. Historically, the Jewish people have experienced how the interplay between them and the rest of the world operates: when the Jews were united, such as during the time of the First Temple, both they and the world thrived.
However, when their relations deteriorated into unfounded hatred, they experienced blows as many forms of anti-Semitism, and the world experienced decline as many forms of crisis.
As the clock ticks on, and the Jewish people continually escape the realization of their role, they gradually reach a state where re-establishing positive connection seems impossible. Jewish self-hatred runs rampant as divides between factions of secular, religious, ultra-Orthodox, pro-Israel and anti-Israel Jews become markedly distinct. A gray cloud of unfounded hatred descends upon the Jews, and sets the scene for a great big storm.
The sailors in the story change each time. To name just a few of the extreme cases: during the Holocaust, they appeared as Nazis; during the pogroms, they took on the form of Russians and Eastern Europeans; during the Spanish Inquisition, they were the Catholics. In the last few years, there has been a sharp rise in anti-Semitic crimes and threats running parallel to a sharp increase in many other problems: depression, suicide, drug abuse, social division, terrorism, and natural disasters, to name a few.
The more humanity experiences crises and problems, the more their fingers point at the Jews as the source of their problems. Apologies are not excuses, but they are a good start on the road to repentance. By Kirk Douglas. A Prayer of Atonement. From the point of view of the Jewish American community, we take responsibility for ourselves and each other and know we are all in this together. Looking back at the past year, we pray.
By Joseph Meszler. As Jews worldwide mark the holiday that begins at sundown, my Facebook feed has been filling up with "friends" issuing blanket apologies to me and the rest of the Facebook for however they may have offended us.
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By Ann Brenoff. The Hebrew date. The Limits of Forgiveness. In the midst of the 10 Days of Awe between the New Year and the Day of Atonement, I take on the practice of surveying my relationships and looking to improve them.
But just as I am trying to open my heart, a figure from my college days keeps appearing before me on media outlets. By Rachel Havrelock. As opposed to the grandeur of some houses of worship, Cohen's God seeks praise from broken hills, not from fantastic edifices. In fact, it is us who are the broken hills.
By Rabbi Mishael Zion. There's no denying that we all enjoy the universals of celebrations -- the good food, the family members getting together and sharing embarrassing stories -- but a holiday with different customs can be unpleasant without some effort to be a part of it. Ruth Nemzoff. God's Good Name. When those of us who have dedicated our lives to promoting a Godly vision of the world even appear to subvert others, we slowly or immediately, depending on the gravity of the action destroy that which we purport to elevate: God.
By Rabbi Aaron Alexander. Post My Personal 10 Commandments. Every year between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, I promise to have a better filter, to be more discreet, to just shut up. These are the days of Awe, but I think of them as the days of "Aw," as in, "Aw, why on earth did I say that?
By Ronna Benjamin. We Can Gather Together. If sitting down and rationally and peacefully talking among people of different religions is unworkable, perhaps creating interfaith families would be a way to bring disparate people together.
Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement
By Harvey Gotliffe, Ph. If the history of the Day of Atonement has anything to say to us now it is: never relieve individuals of moral responsibility.
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