Articles on Yom Kippur
An air of intensity hung over the little synagogue. It was stifling as the men of the congregation stood together, solemn in prayer, deep in concentration. Heads covered with tallisim, some of the men took on the appearance of prophets pleading for the people, beating their breasts, afflicting their souls for the sake of the nation.
For many Jewish people this is a shared memory of worship on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. It certainly was my experience.
Yet Yom Kippur is not just a time for personal reflection, nor is it intended to be merely an occasion for a catharsis of the soul designed to make us feel better. Rather, it is a time when individuals are implored to humble themselves before the Lord (Leviticus 23:27). The community of Israel is to collectively seek atonement. This is why the High Priest of Israel implored the Almighty on behalf of the assembly. His role was that of mediator.
Levitical worship required the High Priest to enter into the awe-filled Holy of Holies alone. Each year one from the Levitical family was set apart for this sacred service. His role was carefully prescribed in the Scriptures: " And he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, even all their sins; and so shall he do for the tent of meeting that dwelleth with them in the midst of their uncleannesses" (Lev. 16:16 JPS).
Even in modern times the basic ideas of communal confession and mediations on the Day of Atonement have prevailed. This is evident in the special Machzor Prayer Book. Most notable is the " Oshamnu" prayer of confession:...
In the Bible, Yom Kippur bears three names: the Day of Atonement, the Day of Judgment, and the Sabbath of Sabbaths. Yom Kippur occurs on the tenth day of Tishri. This is a holy day of the Lord that remains a statute forever. Day of Atonement is the day in which the people of Israel are to be judged by God and the sins of the nation of Israel are atoned. The Day of Atonement is also referred to as the Day of Redemption. This day pictures the transference of sin. It is a time of fasting, cleansing, and reflection which is to be observed once a year.
The Day of Atonement served as a reminder that the daily, weekly, and monthly sacrifices made at the altar of burnt offering were not sufficient to atone for sin. Even at the altar of burnt offering the worshipper stood afar off, unable to approach the Holy Presence of God, who was manifest between the cherubim in the Holy of Holies. On this one day in the year, atoning blood was brought into the Holy of Holies, the divine throne room, by the high priest as the representative of the people (New Bible Dictionary).
It is customary to wear white on this holiday,
which symbolizes purity and the promise that our
sins shall be made as white as snow (Isa. 1:18).
Some Jews wear a kitel, the white robe in which
the dead are buried.
The young Jewish man asked, " Do you really have an Orthodox Jewish background?"
When I replied in the affirmative, he looked at me incredulously and was quiet for a moment. Then he queried, If you have such a background, then why is it that you believe that the Messiah has already come?"
I reflected, and then began: "Let me make one point as to what is the most basic underlying dynamic in my thinking as well as in my heart. Simon the Just at about 200 B. C. E. declared, according to the Pirke Avot (Sayings of the Father) that upon three things does the world rest: 1) Torah, 2) worship, (which is taken to mean the sacrifices in connection with the temple service) and 3) the showing of kindness."1
"Now," I continued," after the fall of the Temple. in 70 C.E., there was a council which met at Yavneh at which Yohanan ben Zakkai presided. One of the decisions by ben Zakkai and others was to change the statement by Simon the Just to read: 1) Torah (which now is the pillar of studying and teaching Torah); 2) temple worship (they redefined it in term of prayer); and 3) the showing of kindness."2
The Jewish man quickly responded, "What did you expect Jewish people to do after the Temple was lost? Since there was no more possibility to offer sacrifices, prayer then became the obvious substitute!"
"Ah," I responded, "but there was a possibility that the concept of sacrifice was not changed. What did the Jewish writers of the New Covenant proclaim? Did they change Moses and the substitute atonement of the Torah?"
Dayenu" on Yom Kippur? Whoever heard of such a thing! We sing, "Dayenu" at Passover, not on the Day of Atonement.
But in one sense, Dayenu is appropriate on Yom Kippur. Dayenu is a Hebrew word which means, "It is sufficient for us; it is enough." And on Pesach, we declare, "Dayenu!" in grateful response to the miracles God wrought on our behalf during our season of deliverance. But on Yom Kippur, would it not be appropriate to ask ourselves, "Dayenu?" Are the prayers we utter and the fasting we undertake sufficient for us? Or should we be doing something more?
When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, sacrifice was viewed as a vital ingredient in securing God's pardon for our transgressions. But since the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E., we have offered no sacrifice, and our sages have declared that prayer and fasting are sufficient.
But if this is true, why has a peculiar custom persisted through the centuries: the custom of Kapporot? In certain households on the day preceding Yom Kippur, the family gathers for the reading of selections from Psalm 107, and from the 33rd chapter of the Book of Job. Fowls have been procured for each member of the family; roosters for the men, and hens for the women. And now, the participants take hold of their fowls, twirl them about their heads three times, and intone a somber prayer: "This is my substitute, my vicarious offering, my atonemennt; this cock (or hen) shall meet death, but I shall find a long and pleasant life of peace."1
Later, the fowls are delivered unto the shochet-the ritual slaughterer-and then donated to the poor, except for the intestines, which are scattered to the birds.
Kapporot raises a challenging question: are mere prayers and fasting sufficient on Yom Kippur? Are they "Dayenu?" If they are-if we do not believe in the need for a sacrifice on Yom Kippur-then how do we explain the practice of Kapporot?...
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 'On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement ...and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD. Neither shall you do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement...If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people" Leviticus 23:26-30.
Each year Jewish people observe Yom Kippur, or The Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year, by reviewing their lives before God. Although Yom Kippur illustrates the opportunity for the individual to be restored to God, the Day of Atonement was the day for the nation of Israel to be restored to God as a holy people in service to the Lord.
Today, because of national unbelief, Israel has been sidetracked from its service. Nevertheless, the time will come for Israel to be gathered back to God as a nation. During the coming Tribulation, Israel will be brought back to the forefront of service. At the end of that Tribulation period, a nation shall be born in a day, and "all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:26).Tradition or Scripture?
Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur are referred to as the High Holy Days in
Judaism. Both are traditionally celebrated as days of solemn personal
evaluation of one's soul before God. In the traditional Jewish
community, Yom Teruah is seen as The Day of Judgment: when God
evaluates an individual's deeds to determine whether He will write that
person's name in the Book of Life for the coming year. According to
tradition, on Yom Teruah three books are opened before God in Heaven.
One book is for the absolutely wicked; another book is for the perfectly
righteous, and finally, the third book is opened for those not in either
of the first two books, those ordinary people who are neither perfectly
evil nor perfectly good. On Yom Teruah, people then have ten days to
do good deeds to merit being placed in the Book of Life for the coming
year. These are called The Days of Awe, which end on Yom Kippur. On Yom
Kippur, people return to synagogue to repent of their sins with the hope
that they have been forgiven by God and their names are written into the
Book of Life for the coming year. Therefore on Yom Kippur, to be made
right with God is the desire of every religious Jew. It is believed that
repentance with fasting, charity, and good deeds produces forgiveness.
Though fasting on Yom Kippur is not the specific scriptural command, the
day is so commonly identified with the practice that it is even called
"the fast" in Acts 27:9....
Y OM KIPPUR is the holiest day of the Jewish year, and provides prophetic insight regarding the Second Coming of Mashiach, the restoration of national Israel, and the final judgment of the world. It is also a day that reveals the High-Priestly work of the Mashiach Yeshua as our Kohen Gadol (High Priest) after the order of Malki-Tzedek (Hebrews 5:10, 6:20).
The biblical name for the day of Atonement is Yom Kippurim, meaning "the day of covering, canceling, pardon, reconciling." Yom Kippur was the only time when the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies and call upon the Name of YHVH to offer blood sacrifice for the sins of the people. This "life for a life" principle is the foundation of the sacrificial system and marked the great day of intercession made by the High Priest on behalf of Israel.
In Rabbinic Judaism, Yom Kippur marks the climax of the ten day period of repentance called the Days of Awe or yamim nora'im. In the Hebrew calendar, Erev Yom Kippur begins at nightfall on Tishri 9 and continues 25 hours through the next day until nightfall. It is a day marked by complete fasting, prayer, and additional synagogue services.
According to the Jewish sages, it was on Tishri 10 that Moses came down from Sinai bearing the second set of tablets, after God had forgiven Israel for worshipping the Golden Calf. This explains why Orthodox Jews begin the season of Teshuvah beginning with Elul 1 and continue through to Tishri 10 -- for the 40 days that Moses was upon the mountain receiving the second set of tablets. Here we also find the first inkling of the Book of Life , when Moses asked to be stricken from "the Book you have written" if God would not make an atonement for his people (Exodus 32:32-3). The willingness of Moses to be "stricken from the book" on the people's behalf is a powerful image of the mediating role of Yeshua ha-Mashiach (Hebrews 9:15).
Y om HaKippurim is the holiest day of the year. To be technically correct, Scripture does not call it the "Day of Atonement" [Yom Kippur], but the "Day of Atonements" [Yom HaKippurim]. You may wonder about that. You see, bound up in that little misnomer is some significant theological error - and some profound misreading of the Apostolic Scriptures. Because many of us have been taught well regarding the substitutionary atonement of Messiah, we can sometimes miss what is happening with regard to Yom HaKippurim. It is all about Messiah, but maybe not in the ways that we may have previously thought. Yom HaKippurim was never about personal atonement.
If you've studied the korbanot [offerings] in the Torah as every good student of the Bible should, then you already may know that none of offerings were ever about permanent personal atonement. The "personal" offerings were about worship; and about receiving an atonement for the time when you were in the Tabernacle/Temple... just to keep from dying while in the Presence of the Holy One, blessed is He. That is why we hear very few of the korbanot called "sin" offerings or "guilt offerings." No, instead, most of the major korbanot were worship offerings only. The korban olah, and the korbat shalem were about worship. Some of the korbanot were for atonement, but in a corporate sense, not for individuals. Now, if that sounds odd to you, it is because you probably do not read your Bible in Hebrew. You see, in Hebrew the "you" in most of the instructions regarding atonement are plural. These are about the whole House of Israel. And that is what is true about Yom HaKippurim as well.
"This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before HaShem. It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father's place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the Tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year." And he did as HaShem commanded Moses. (Leviticus 16:29-34)
- For the High Priesthood and the Priests
- For the Holy Sanctuary
- For the Tabernacle
- For the Altar
- The assembly (the people, plural)
No personal atonement. It is not about "getting your sins forgiven" for the year. Notice atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, the Tabernacle, and the Altar. Did they "sin?" Of course not. Beloved, pay attention because this will help unravel 1,900 years of bias against the Temple and the korbanot. Yom HaKippurim was about keeping the Place of the Almighty's abode holy, thereby making it a place for His Presence to dwell. After all, that is what the Tabernacle and the later Temple were for. Not simply a "dwelling place" but a Place where He could dwell among His people. For that to happen, the Place had to be sanctified each year. It was not about taking away sin - it was about cleansing the Temple. While the statute is eternal, the cleansing effect was temporal. That is what the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches as well:
For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies [present tense] for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Messiah, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:13-14)
Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement has long been considered the most holy day in the Jewish calendar. On this day once a year the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the people. Even in it's original understanding atonement wasn't just for the Jewish people but for all peoples - this is clear when we read, Lev. 16:29-30.
The key idea behind the meaning of the word Kippur. The word - Kippur is most often translated as - atonement. The idea however behind the root word - is to cover or conceal. Atonement - or making atonement is to "cover over sin" It also conveys the idea or - a ransom or redeem, or an exchange -in the atonement the life of the animal is exchanged for the sins of the people. ...