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Yom Kippur is an act of repentance that changes one’s life course

It’s time for the spiritually spectacular day of the Biblical year! YOM KIPPUR begins sundown Sunday September 27, continuing Monday morning, afternoon and through the evening closing service marked by the last sounding of the shofar.

FAITH IN FOCUS

The Ten Days of Awe (Ten Days of Repentance) between Rosh Hashanah consummating with Yom Kippur are characterized by beautiful and awe-inspiring prayers, songs and assembly before the Creator, Our Master.

Judaism, corresponding to the Biblical description, recognizes and observes these days with our focus on Repentance. Starting with the previous month of Elul, we have daily read additional penitential prayers and recite each day Psalm 27 along with sounding the shofar each morning for 40 days. It is a call to “awake us from our slumber.” It is a spiritual alarm clock!

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Rabbi Jerry Feldman

We usually think of repentance as a necessary self-deprecating and “yucky” process so we can ‘get on’ having gotten the little ‘nasty’ out of the way and on to some more of the ‘Praise’ model! But, 10 days of self-reflection, penitential prayers, additional gatherings (morning, afternoon and evening) to self-reflective confession and devotional adherence along with diligent inventory of conscience is far more than the occasional recognition of “guilt.” Rather, this is a Biblically ordained opportunity purposed to restore our sinful lives resulting in changed souls, namely, we properly seek to start anew. We “actually” know what it looks like if we truly are renewed.

At Yom Kippur we are reminded our lives belong to Him.

In Judaism, it is not whether you are going to heaven, but it is about bringing heaven down. At Yom Kippur we are reminded our lives belong to Him. And he wants you and me to be the work of His hands, on earth as it is in heaven. Yom Kippur is not just a “woe is me” for 26 hours but a compelling opportunity that drives us to Him as the love of our lives and a way back home where He makes his residence in our lives. It is the true meaning of being born again (again)!

Judaism recognizes the significance that G-d created ‘time.’ It is created not to pass from hour to hour, but to be reckoned with to create, recreate, discipline, deliberate and regulate, negotiate and to conform to the righteous order of meaningfulness and purpose defined by G-d for beauty and glory. Restoration and renewal require honest engagement with all that interferes, negates and ignores the moments of life that are squandered, as if we are just biding time through to “the other end of time.”

Not so as Judaism understands G-d and man. Time is to be sanctified. No, not just seeking to be released from the seeming constraints of time to find spiritually “otherliness” apart from time, but personal responsibility to reconstruct life. We intentionally reckon and rearrange our non-reflective, careless and carefree way of life that ‘assumes’ on time. Specifically, it is a time to turn (Teshuvah translated repentance means “return”), to make and restore a place for what we assert, that “this is our Father’s world!”

We intentionally reckon and rearrange our non-reflective, careless and carefree way of life that ‘assumes’ on time.

Perhaps you were not brought up with these concepts. Is it your experience that appreciation for the sanctifying time, richly at the center of Biblical G-dliness, unnecessary because “Jesus paid it all,” then the Day of Repentance and a Day of Atonement is for you, and me.

The Yom Kippur prayer tradition is characterized by liturgical prayers. This has been lost in contemporary forms of praise and worship, but I invite you to a more Biblical definition of renewal. It takes form. It requires liturgy. And, even more so, it reminds us that Biblical life is itself life that is liturgical. After all, what is more spiritual than re-creation from chaos to order as it was “In the beginning?”

Framing and choosing the correctives and in turn appropriating truth, justice, ethics, morality, character and beauty requires a liturgical approach to life; what we do with “time” and how we appropriate ritual life, namely righteous disciplines that lead to all things as “Holy.”

In today’s Christian world, events seem to be the convocational rallying point. Look how we are trying so elaborately to reconstruct the event of worship on Zoom

Judaism does not in one sense “celebrate” the Holy Days as events, but rather “observes” them. They are structured. In today’s Christian world, events seem to be the convocational rallying point. Look how we are trying so elaborately to reconstruct the event of worship on Zoom and Internet staged presentations, somehow to rally ourselves to an eventful experience.

Not so with Yom Kippur. The Holy Day is characterized with co-equal and shared open confessions of sin. The “AL Chet” (‘for the sin’) prayers are gripping of soul. It’s a “let’s face it” moment that is a journey of the soul for 26 hours, where we relinquish ourselves, all of ourselves, before all of Him. It liturgically places us solely front and center hoping there is no stone unturned!

READ: How the sound of religion changed during Covid

Repentance prayers are not just saying, ”I am sorry.” It is more like the classic Pentecostal and Holiness experience to “get prayed through.” It is like the “old time religion” practice of tarrying at the altar on Sunday night services, not getting up until you have left it all at the altar. Yom Kippur becomes similar “making all things right and new,” a process of the soul whereby the repentant not only honestly identifies behavior unbecoming to the honor of G-d but reckons with its replacement. Return to G-d means reversing course. Not just in general but in real specificity.

I like the Jewish tradition that says when, for instance, one prays on the Wednesday of the 10 Days of Awe and Repentance, one prays through every previous Wednesday of the year and each sinful disregard for sanctifying life and time represented by selfish and careless pursuits.

Yom Kippur is Biblical! It is given to restore redeemed life in accordance with purpose and time.

What a challenge to the just “I am sorry and off we go” approach, because we “easily” get forgiven because of Jesus? Yom Kippur is Biblical! It is given to restore redeemed life in accordance with purpose and time. Have you considered what it could mean and how it would restore and revive us if what is provided in the Day of Atonement confirmed and actuated when we say, “because of Jesus”?

Are we meant to go from day to day in personal pursuits, adding a bit of a forgiving Jesus to get us off the hook each time we sin necessarily acknowledging them (1 John 1:9)? Or will we seek repentance that leads to eternal life, or put otherwise, will the life that resides in eternity becomes the life to be lived in the here and now?

So, this Sunday evening (and Monday morning and evening) we welcome you to such an experience. We invite you to do it “Biblically” and through “truly” traditionally Jewish practice. Prepare for an evening that begins with a famous opening singing of “Kol Nidre,” a pleading to break through to G-d relying on his mercy and disavowing us of our failure to keep our vows to Him.

– By Messianic Rabbi Jerry Feldman, Adat Yeshua Messianic Congregation, Overland Park, Kansas

Editor’s Note: Details for these services with their extensive reciting the sin lists (redemptive, healing and forgiving) and our closing Neilah Service concluding with the final blast of the shofar can be found at www.adatyeshuakc.com.

 

 

 

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