Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur: Babylon or Jerusalem?
Yom Kippur: Babylon or Jerusalem?

Meaning and celebration of Yom Kippur. A call to reconciliation with G-d and ones neighboor 

יום כיפור

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Yom Kippur, יום כיפור means “Day of expiation”. It occurs on the tenth day of the month of Tishrei and puts an end to the “Ten Days of Awe” which are the days of repentance that start on the first day of the month of Tishrei, for Rosh Hashana.  Each one is called on this special day to think about the year that passed and to submit to G-d. 

Leviticus 16:29-34  “It is to be a permanent regulation for you that on the tenth day of the seventh month you are to deny yourselves and not do any kind of work, both the citizen and the foreigner living with you. For on this day, atonement will be made for you to purify you; you will be clean before ADONAI from all your sins. It is a Shabbat of complete rest for you, and you are to deny yourselves. “This is a permanent regulation. The cohen anointed and consecrated to be cohen in his father’s place will make the atonement; he will put on the linen garments, the holy garments; he will make atonement for the Especially Holy Place; he will make atonement for the tent of meeting and the altar; and he will make atonement for the cohanim and for all the people of the community. This is a permanent regulation for you, to make atonement for the people of Isra’el because of all their sins once a year.” Moshe did as ADONAI had ordered him. 

Leviticus 23:32  It will be for you a Shabbat of complete rest, and you are to deny yourselves; you are to rest on your Shabbat from evening the ninth day of the month until the following evening.”

Both the citizen and the foreigner were called to repent together.  

The role of the Cohen Gadol was very important on this day because it was the only moment of the year that he would come into the Holy of Holies with incense to expiate for the sins of the people. 

Clothed in white linen garments, he would officiate before the holy Presence of G-d. The blood of the sacrificed bull was sprinkled seven times before the holy Ark after that the Kohen had entered with incense. 

Two goats were chosen and lots were cast to design one goat for the L-rd and the second as a scapegoat for Azazel to carry the sins of the whole people. After placing the lots upon the goats, the High Priest tied a length of crimson-dyed wool between the horns of the scapegoat and a man was designed to lead the scapegoat to the desert.  

The Kohen would confess the people’s sins laying his hands on the scapegoat. This confession of sins was called “vidduy

The scapegoat was then sent to the desert, carrying all the sins of the people. Up to the Jewish Tradition, the scapegoat, once arrived at Azazel Mount, was pushed down the cliff. The man in charge of this mission cut the crimson-dyed wool and tied one on a rock and the other one to the horns of the animal.  At the Temple time, the crimson-dyed wool was also tied at the door of the Temple and would become white at the death of the scapegoat. The people knew that he was forgiven, but sometimes it would stay red.   

Isaiah 1:18  “Come now, ”says ADONAI, “let’s talk this over together. Even if your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow; even if they are red as crimson, they will be like wool.

The Shabbat before Yom Kippur is called Shabbat shuva : a Shabbat of repentance and return. It is called so in relation with the Prophet portion reading of this day:

Hosea 14:2  (14:3) Take words with you, and return shuva שׁוּבָה to ADONAI; say to him, “Forgive all guilt, and accept what is good; we will pay instead of bulls (the offerings of) our lips. 

Hebrews 13:15  Through him, therefore, let us offer God a sacrifice of praise continually. For this is the natural product of lips that acknowledge his name.

This Shabbat is special because it is a day to give honor to the Creator and also a repentance day: the letters of the word שבת  are included in those of the word tshuva תשובה, which means “return, repentance”: this Shabbat is thus an appropriate day for repentance. We are called to repent in a deep way, not quickly but in order to change completely of direction to come back to the right direction. 

How does it concern us as believers in the One whom blood was better than the one of the goats and bulls to wash us from any impurity?

Hebrews 9:11-14  But when the Messiah appeared as cohen gadol of the good things that are happening already, then, through the greater and more perfect Tent which is not man–made (that is, it is not of this created world), he entered the Holiest Place once and for all. And he entered not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of his own blood, thus setting people free forever. For if sprinkling ceremonially unclean persons with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer restores their outward purity; then how much more the blood of the Messiah, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself to God as a sacrifice without blemish, will purify our conscience from works that lead to death, so that we can serve the living God!

Glory to G-d ! He granted us the eternal forgiveness of our mistakes and gives us the mean to repent each day, if we wish, for His Spirit convinces us of sin. He is our great Kohen Who intercedes each day on our behalf. 

Yeshua fulfilled everything: He set us free from slavery of sin at Pesach and forgave our sins at Kippur. He was both the lamb and the scapegoat sent for Azazel for us. His shed blood brought eternal reconciliation with the Father.  

As we commemorate the Feast of deliverance by grace at Pesach, we also commemorate the forgiveness by grace at Kippur !

All those feasts speak of Yeshua and tell us of His work : Pessach, this of deliverance, Shavuot, this of the giving of the Holy Spirit, Rosh Hashana, this of His coming back, Yom Kippur, this of His forgiveness, and Shabbat, this of the double portion of the Living Bread ! 

The day of Yom Kippur is consecrated as a double Shabbat, Shabbat Shabbaton in order to celebrate this mostly holy day when Yeshua destroyed the deeds of the devil and granted us access to the holiness of G-d. May His name be blessed forever ! 

Leviticus 16:31  It is a Shabbat of complete rest shabbat shabbaton שַׁבַּתשַׁבָּתוֹן for you, and you are to deny yourselves. “This is a permanent regulation.

Let’s take the opportunity of this special Godly ordained time, for both the citizen and the foreigner, to check ourselves and fix any damage done to our neighbor and to dedicate ourselves one more time. We should ask forgiveness to the ones we could have offended during the year and forgive those who have offended us.  

May our names be forever written in the Book of Life of the Lamb ! 

Revelation 20:12  And I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened; and another book was opened, the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, according to what they had done.  

Celebration of the Feast: 

The fast starts at evening and finishes the next evening. No food and no drink are allowed. 

The traditional prayers at the synagogue are : 

  • Kol nidrei, at the eve of Kippur : a prayer meant to break all vain vows during the year.  
  • Vidduy : the confession of sins 
  • The Torah readings are Leviticus 16, Numbers 22 :7-11, and the prophet Jonas. 
  • Neila : prayer done at the end of the fast to close the day.
Tzom kal v'gmar chatima tova!
An easy fast and may you be written on the Book of Life!

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