YOM KIPPUR—DAY OF ATONEMENT by Raphael ben Levi
(Extract from the book, “Romance of the Hebrew Calendar”
“There is not a single bird more persecuted than the dove; yet God has chosen her to be offered up on the altar. The bull is hunted by the lion, the sheep by the wolf, and the goat by the tiger. God said: ‘Bring me a sacrifice, not from them that persecute, but from them that are persecuted.’”
Yom Kippur has its root in the Hebrew word ‘kafar’ meaning ‘ransom’ or ‘redeem.’ (Psalm 49:7) The Hebrew word, ‘kapporet’ or, ‘mercy seat’ was also the name given to the golden slab covering the chest in the Holy of Holies. Nowadays, the ‘kapporet’ refers to the Torah ark curtain that can be found in every synagogue.
Yom Kippur is observed on the evening of Tishri 9, (during the time of the grape and fruit harvest) until the evening of the tenth day. (Joel 1 :14-15). It is the holiest of all Jewish holy days and a time when people are called to ‘humble their souls’, (Lev 23:27) meaning to mourn over their sins.
The Torah explained the consequences for an Israelite who failed to observe this day:
“God said to Moses: “‘The tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly, fast, and offer a Fire-Gift to God. Don’t work on that day because it is a day of atonement to make atonement for you before your God. Anyone who doesn’t fast on that day must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who works on that day. Don’t do any work that day—none. This is a perpetual decree for all the generations to come, wherever you happen to be living. It is a Sabbath of complete and total rest, a fast day. Observe your Sabbath from the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening.’(Lev. 16: 29-32).
On Yom Kippur, the Israelites were commanded (Lev. 23: 27-32) to gather in His presence and focus their undivided attention upon Him. According to Halacha (The legal Jewish rulings in Judaism) there are five rulings at Yom Kippur (unless it places someone in a life-threatening position):
1. Abstain from all food and liquids;
2. Abstain from washing and bathing;
3. Abstain from applying lotions and perfume;
4. Abstain from wearing leather shoes (representing a sign of luxury);
5. Abstain from marital relations.
Yom Kippur begins with the recitation or singing of Kol Nidrei by a cantor a worship leader who guides the congregation (also known as a ‘Chazzan’). It is written in Aramaic and as it is presented, the sins of the people are brought before God. It is a legal declaration rather than a prayer. Before sunset on the eve of Yom Kippur (‘Day of Atonement’) the congregation gathers in the synagogue. The Ark is opened and two people take from it two Torah scrolls. Then they take their places, one on each side of the cantor, and the three (symbolising a Beth Din or rabbinical court) recite:
‘In the tribunal of Heaven and the tribunal of earth, by the permission of God—praised be He—and by the permission of this holy congregation, we hold it lawful to pray with transgressors.’
The cantor then chants the passage beginning with the words Kol Nidrei with its touching melodic phrases, and, in varying intensities from pianissimo (quiet) to fortissimo (loud), repeats three times (lest a latecomer not hear them) the following words:
‘All personal vows we are likely to make, all personal oaths and pledges we are likely to take between this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, we publicly renounce. Let them all be relinquished and abandoned, null and void, neither firm nor established. Let our personal vows, pledges and oaths be considered neither vows nor pledges nor oaths.’
The leader and the congregation then say together three times,
‘May all the people of Israel be forgiven, including all the strangers who live in their midst, for all the people are in fault.” The Torah scrolls are then replaced, and the customary evening service begins.’”
The idea of having all sacred vows cancelled can easily be abused or treated lightly, so the prayer of Kol Nidrei has been clothed in controversy and on occasions even opposed.
THE POWER OF WORDS
We are reminded how seriously the Lord takes it when we make promises to Him or others. This is perhaps one reason why the Jewish people maintain a high reputation for integrity, especially in the business world. Since our words carry significance and consequence, we do well to carefully heed the following Scripture:
“And since you know that he cares, let your language show it. Don’t add words like ‘I swear to God’ to your own words. Don’t show your impatience by concocting oaths to hurry up God. Just say yes or no. Just say what is true. That way, your language can’t be used against you.” (James 5:12)
A GOOD CONFESSION
At Yom Kippur, confession of sins is prayed as a group in recognition that all Israel is responsible for the sin of the individual. This should characterise our relationships; another’s failure is our own and vice versa; our responsibility should always be seeking to restore others rather than condemning them. Experiencing God’s forgiveness and reconciliation makes the task of forgiving others trivial in comparison. Maimonides wrote:
“It isn’t enough that God is my King alone. If all humanity doesn’t recognise God as King, then there is something lacking in my own relationship with God.”
Rightly interpreted, this places upon us a responsibility to lead by godly example rather than by falsehood and manipulations. Sadly, the Church has frequently fallen far short in this regard throughout it’s history (e.g. forced conversions, persecutions, etc).
It has been said, “Preach the gospel in and out of season, and if you must, use words.” This is not to deny our responsibility and privilege to celebrate and proclaim our faith, but to embrace it in every aspect and expression of our lives, especially in demonstration of our love towards others.
At the commencement of Rosh Ha Shanah, we celebrate the ten-day period where it is believed that heaven’s court and gates are opened. The sceptre of God’s mercy is extended to all who sincerely repent. It is the only ‘Moed’ where there are five separate synagaogue services (instead of three or four). Five is the number for grace and it pictures a loving God who goes to extraordinary lengths in providing us with an opportunity to make amends before the Book of Life is sealed.
At the conclusion of Yom Kippur, the gates of the heavenly court are closed. Before this happens there is one final blast of the shofar (Shofar Ha Gadol). This represents one last invitation for people to get their lives right with God before it is too late. It can be interpreted as a call within the immediate present, that we neglect at our peril.
It is also an appeal for each person to live in a restorative ongoing relationship with God before the door of our mortal lives finally and irrevocably close.
From the beginning of Elul (the month that precedes Tishri) to Yom Kippur is forty days. This is the period when Moshe was on Mount Sinai collecting the second set of stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. Moshe had interceded on behalf of the people, and asked to be struck out of the Book of Life if God refused to forgive the
Israelites concerning the golden calf (idolatry). (Exodus 32:32-33). Here is the
earliest reference to the Book of Life within Scripture.
HIGH PRIESTLY DUTIES
Yom Kippur is based on the life-for-life principle where the high priest made a substitute offering annually before the Lord, on behalf of Israel’s sins. (Lev. 17:11). On this most holy day, the high priest would immerse himself in the mikvah (cleansing bath) five times instead of once, and wash his hands and feet ten times.
Forty specific steps can be identified in the service of Yom Kippur conducted by the high priest, a number that symbolises fullness and completeness. (cf. Appendix of ‘Romance of the Hebrew Calendar’). He was required to live in the Temple Court in the week preceding Yom Kippur (during the Days of Awe) and was placed in the Chamber of the Counsellors (The high priest had a special chamber called “lishkat parhedrin” (“assessors”) = “the Counsellors’ Chamber”) to prepare himself for entering the Holy of Holies. Another priest was ready to take his place in case anything happened and he became unfit for service.
In the Mishna, (the collection of rabbinic rulings edited by Rabbi Judah HaNasi about 200 CE; together with the Gemara that forms the Talmud) it records the sayings of Jewish sages both before and after the time of Yeshua) where we read an interesting point:
“Normally, the altar would be cleared of ashes at around cockcrow, but on Yom Ha Kippurim it was cleared of ashes at midnight and on the three festivals at the first watch. Before the cock crew the Temple Court would be full of Israelites.”
For Messianic Believers, the commentary connects with the occasion when Peter was in the Temple Court at Pesach after Yeshua was arrested. He was accused of being Yeshua’s disciple but repeatedly denied having any known association with Him. When a cock crowed, he was reminded of Yeshua’s warning:
“Then Peter began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, I do not even know the man! At that moment a rooster crowed. Peter remembered Yeshua’s words, when He had said, ‘Before a single rooster crows, you will deny and disown me three times.’ He went outside and wept bitterly.” Matt. 26:74-75
The phrase, ‘before the cock crow’ is interesting. Mark and Luke add, ‘before the
cock crowed twice’. The cock is accustomed to crow twice, once at midnight, and once in the morning at break of day. The latter was commonly called cock-crowing. (cf.Mark 13:35) and of this Matthew and John speak. Mark and Luke speak of the “second” crowing, and mean the same time, so there is no contradiction between them. (Barnes)
THE AZAZEL (Scapegoat)
We read in the Jewish Encyclopedia that:
“The exact meaning of Azazel was a point of dispute already in the times of the talmudic sages: some held that it is the name of the place to which the goat was sent, while others believed that it was the name of some “power.”
The word Azazel is also interpreted as meaning strong and hard as an attempt to reconcile the meaning of the word Azazel with the actual usage in the time of the Second Temple, namely to bring the goat to a cliff and to push it over.
So who is ‘Azazel? Leviticus (16:8): “One lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel,” i.e., just as the first goat is set aside for the Lord so the second is set aside for Azazel, God gets a burnt offering while Azazel gets a sin offering. This view is reinforced by the widespread belief that the wilderness was the habitat of demons (see Lev. 13:21; 34:14; esp. Lev. 17:7). The demonic identification would indicate that the original purpose of the ritual was to get rid of the evil by banishing it to its original source.”
In the retelling of the story of the sons of God and daughters of men (Gen. 6:1–4) in the Book of Enoch, Azazel (or Azael) is one of the leaders of the angels who desired the daughters of men (6:4), and it was he who taught human beings how to manufacture weapons and ornaments (8:1–2) and spearheaded the creation of the Nephilim). We believe that Yeshua (‘who knew no sin yet became sin for us’) has become our ‘Azazel’ who bore all our sins upon the crucifixion stake.
The process for selecting the scapegoat (Azazel) and sin offering was very specific. The high priest came to the east of the Temple Court, to the north of the altar. The deputy high priest would be on his right and the head of the family (ministering that week) on his left.
Two he-goats would be presented, and there would be an urn made from boxwood and adorned with golden handles containing two lots within. The high priest would shake the urn and take up the two lots. On one would be written, ‘for the Lord,’ and on the other, ‘for Azazel.’ After it had been determined which goat had been selected as the Azazel and sin offering, the high priest would lay the lots on the two he-goats and say, ‘A sin offering to the Lord!’ The people responded, ‘Blessed is his Name whose glorious kingdom is for ever and ever!’
After this, the high priest sacrificed a male goat as a sin offering. He then entered again into the Holy of Holies taking some of the blood and sprinkling it on behalf of the people.(Lev. 16:1-15)
Next, the Azazel was taken and the high priest laid his hands on its head, confessed over it the sins of Israel, and released it into the desert where it symbolically carried away the sins of the people. (Lev. 16:8,10).The remains of the sacrificial bullock and male goat were taken outside the city and burned, and the day was concluded with additional sacrifices.
In all, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies three times. On the first occasion, he performed the service of the special Yom Kippur incense:
(a) Scoop up some coal; (cf. Isai. 6)
(b) Scoop up the incense into the ladle;
(c) Burn the incense in the Holy of Holies.
The second time was to sprinkle the blood of an ox in the Holy of Holies.
On the third occasion, he slaughtered the he-goat as a sacrifice unto the Lord and sprinkled the blood upon the altar.
NEW TESTAMENT APPLICATIONS
The Book of Hebrews (8:9-10) teaches us that the temple rituals associated with Yom Kippur are symbols of the atoning work of Yeshua, our ‘Great High Priest.’ First, we learn that He was sinless yet became our sacrifice (Azazel) and shed His own blood for our sins. Just as the high priest entered the Holy of Holies with the blood of sacrificial animals, now Yeshua stands for us in front of the Father in heaven. (9:11-12)
Even as sin offerings were presented year by year by the high priest for his own sin and the sins of the people, (reminding the people that perfect and permanent atonement had not yet been made) now we have a redeemer who through His own blood has brought us redemption that is secure and eternal. (9:12)
Finally, the sacrifice of Yom Kippur was burned outside the camp of Israel, and in the same way Yeshua suffered outside the gates of Jerusalem to redeem His people from their sins.(13:11-12)
In the Babylonian Talmud, we read that a scarlet cord was tied around the neck of the Azazel. It was claimed that the cord turned white as the goat was led away out of the city. During the last forty years before the destruction of the 2nd Temple (in AD 70), the red cord tied around the Azazel failed to change colour. If we were to calculate the date for this, it would have been exactly around the time (30 AD ) when Yeshua was crucified.
THE MYSTERY OF THE RED HEIFER (Hebrew: ‘parah adumah’)
The red heifer is shrouded in mystery. After it had been sacrificed the ashes, stored in a clean place outside the camp, it was mixed by the priest with purified water and sprinkled upon the individual or object needing purification. Whilst anything ritually defiled was now considered pure, the priest who performed the ceremony himself became temporarily defiled. There is a Talmudic phrase that reflects this curious position:
“The ashes of the red heifer purify the defiled and defile the pure.” Judaism acknowledges that this is beyond any kind of sense or meaningful interpretation and is known as a ‘chok,’ a law with no explanation.
When an individual became defiled through contact with a corpse, God provided the means to become ritually pure again. The red heifer ritual was the concrete expression for maintaining purity when someone was contaminated specifically by death. It was a ‘chok’ that the ashes would purify the person or object when mixed with the water. It has been said that even King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, could not provide any explanation for this ceremony.
In the Book of Numbers, the Lord instructed Moshe and Aaron:
“This is the statute of the law which the LORD has commanded: Tell the people of Israel to bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish, and upon which a yoke has never come. And you shall give her to Elea’zar the priest, and she shall be taken outside the camp and slaughtered before him; and Elea’zar the priest shall take some of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle some of her blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times. And the heifer shall be burned in his sight; her skin, her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall be burned; and the priest shall take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet stuff, and cast them into the midst of the burning of the heifer. Then the priest shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterwards he shall come into the camp; and the priest shall be unclean until evening. He who burns the heifer shall wash his clothes in water and bathe his body in water, and shall be unclean until evening. And a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place; and they shall be kept for the congregation of the people of Israel for the water for impurity, for the removal of sin. And he who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until evening. And this shall be to the people of Israel, and to the stranger who sojourns among them, a perpetual statute. He who touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days; he shall cleanse himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so be clean; but if he does not cleanse himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not become clean. Whoever touches a dead person, the body of any man who has died, and does not cleanse himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from Israel; because the water for impurity was not thrown upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is still on him.” (Num. 19:2-3)
The priest used cedar wood, hyssop, and a scarlet thread that were thrown into the fire of the sacrifice. Cedar wood is aromatic and its scent was a soothing aroma covering the stench of death. Hyssop was a symbol of purification. The scarlet thread is symbolic of the two goats of Yom Kippur; one was sacrificed, and the scapegoat (Azazel) was led into the wilderness and thrown over a cliff (known as ‘The Azazel’) to its death.
These symbols were added to the fire to show that the death of the red heifer purified those defiled by death. The God of the living, would render life to those exposed to death in exchange for the sacrificial offering. Without this provision, a person was permanently cut off from the Israelite community.
In Jewish tradition, it was judged that even proximity to a corpse (defined as within the distance of one’s shadow) made a person unclean. Consequently, tombs were whitewashed so they were clearly marked to warn those passing by to give plenty of space lest they be defiled. When Yeshua described the Pharisees of His day as ‘whitewashed tombs,’ He served them with a severe reprimand that was immediately understood and of great offence to them.
DESCRIPTION OF THE RED HEIFER
The heifer was to be three years of age, totally red in colour, without blemish, or ever having borne a burden and, according to Jewish tradition, without a single black or white hair on its body. The animal was slaughtered with the priest sprinkling its blood seven times toward the tabernacle’s entrance. The entire carcass (hide, entrails and meat) was then cremated on a wood pyre. The writer of the Book of Hebrews described the significance of the red heifer:
“Mashiach has appeared as the high priest of the good things that have happened. He passed through the greater and more perfect meeting tent, which isn’t made by human hands (that is, it’s not a part of this world).
He entered the Holy of Holies once for all by his own blood, not by the blood of goats or calves, securing our deliverance for all time. If the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of cows made spiritually contaminated people holy and clean, how much more will the blood of Yeshua wash our consciences clean from dead works in order to serve the living God? He offered himself to God through the eternal Spirit as a sacrifice without any flaw. This is why he’s the mediator of a new covenant (which is a will): so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance on the basis of his death. His death occurred to set them free from the offences committed under the first covenant.”(Heb. 9:11-15)
RED HEIFER PARALLELS WITH MASHIACH
• Red is the colour of sin (Isa.1:18, “Though your sins be as
scarlet . . . red like crimson.”).
• Red is the colour of the skin infection described in Lev. 13:19,24,42–43.
• Burning the heifer represents the death and suffering of Mashiach on the cross and God’s judgment against sin.
• Careful attention was exercised in choosing a spotless heifer, more than in any other sacrifice.
• The red heifer had borne no yoke. Similarly, Mashiach was neither under the yoke of sin nor anything else of an earthly nature.
• The heifer was slain outside of the camp. During the 1st and 2nd Temple eras, the red heifer was slain on the Mount of Olives by the priests. The Mount of Olives was located off the Temple Mount and outside the walls of Jerusalem.
• Yeshua was sacrificed outside the city gates of Jerusalem (Heb 13:12) and maybe on the Mount of Olives from which the front of the temple and the veil was clearly visible since the rent veil was visible from the place of crucifixion (Matt 27:51,54; Mark 15:38–39).
- The heifer was totally burnt. Mashiach suffered the burning pain of the cross in body, soul and spirit (Isai. 53) to atone for our sin.
THE TENTH HEIFER
Maimonides (RaMBaM, (1135-1204) was a preeminent and prolific medieval Jewish philosopher) wrote that from the time of Moses until the destruction of the 2nd Temple, only nine red heifers have been used to prepare the purifying waters. He believed that the tenth heifer would be prepared by the Mashiach.The following article yields further illumination:
“The explanation of (Maimonides) thinking is found in the Mishnah (Parah 3.5). The numbering of the significant heifers prepared under the law is taken from this text as being prepared by the following people in the restoration of the tabernacle or temple system:
• The first was prepared by Moses.
• The second was prepared by Ezra.
• Five were held to have been prepared from Ezra onwards (according to R. Meir 3.5.D). Seven were prepared from Ezra onwards according to the sages (3.5.E).
The view is that the great periods involving the Temple had one of the Great High Priests preparing it. The tenth red heifer is to be done to herald the reconstruction of the Temple and the last and greatest High Priest, namely Mashiach. The argument rests on the process of the restoration and the views of the rabbinical authorities during the Temple Period and the commentators on the law.
Meshiach was the last red heifer, the Passover and high priest designate all in one. Jewish scholars are correct in their understanding of the significance, but refuse to accept that it has already happened.
The high priest in the year of the sacrifice and dedication was Joseph surnamed Caiaphas (Jn. 18:24, cf. Schurer, ibid.). He was high priest from 18-36 CE. He prophesied the year of the crucifixion that Yeshua was going to die for the nation (Jn. 11:51).
Yeshua, our eternal High Priest was required, however, to fulfil a number of other sacrifices at the same time to enable the all saving aspect of the redemption to take effect. All those that buried Meshiach were deemed unclean for seven days. In other words, they were unclean until the last Holy Day of Unleavened Bread. On the Passover, therefore, they had to see the corpse down off the cross before sundown so that the people were not unclean. Given some of the rabbinical views, they would have been unclean for the entirety of the feast. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls show that the later interpretations were wrong.
They took the body down before dark so that they did not profane the first Holy Day. This Holy Day commenced on the Wednesday evening at nightfall. The Red Heifer was the instrument that sanctified the people in this circumstance. It was not the Passover lamb that performed that function initially. It was for this reason that Meshiach had to be placed in a clean tomb that had borne no other corpse. This was symbolic of the remains of the heifer.
Meshiach had to remain uncontaminated until his ascension. His death satisfied multiple and, indeed, the entire sacrificial requirements of the Temple once and for all. The tenth red heifer will herald the reconstruction of the Temple and the last and greatest High Priest, namely Messiah Yeshua. Mashiach was the last red heifer, the Passover and high priest designate all in one. The Jewish people are essentially correct in their understanding of the significance but do not yet accept that it has already happened . . . The tenth heifer was sacrificed in 30 CE by and under the high priesthood of Joseph Caiaphas and Annas as seen above. This tenth heifer symbolised the sacrifice of Meshiach and the dedication of the new Temple in 30/31 CE built not of human hands but with the Ruach ha Kodesh and which was composed of blocks of living stones. The tenth heifer was thus already long gone before the destruction of the temple. (Wade Cox – “Messiah and the Red Heifer”)
THE RED HEIFER AND YOM KIPPUR
The red heifer is connected to Yom Kippur yet also stands alone from it. It provided for the purification of an individual defiled by coming in direct contact with ‘death,’ on an as-need basis, opposed to annually for the corporate covering of a nation’s sins. So, what is the answer to the riddle that perplexed even King Solomon? It is life out of death, a perfect picture of Mashiach, who conquered the sting of death for anyone who would embrace Him as Lord.
A TEMPORARY SOLUTION
The very name Yom Kippur (‘Day of Covering or Concealment’) defines its inadequacy because it only hides rather than removes sin from God’s sight. The Torah made no provision for the covering of certain sins such as murder. No ransom was sufficient for the exchange of an individual’s life:
“Moreover, you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer guilty of death; but he shall surely be put to death.” (Num. 35:31) Things become even more complicated as we grasp the implication of Yeshua’s words to the crowds who gathered before Him:
“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill, and whoever kills shall be liable to the punishment imposed by the court.’ Yet I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbours malice against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court.”(Matt. 5:21-22)
THE HIGH PRIEST
We can see Yeshua reflected in the temple service in a variety of ways. (cf Appendix of ‘Romance of the Hebrew Calendar.’) Even as He is our ‘Azazel,’ He is also our ‘High Priest.’ For example, the high priest laid aside his regular priestly clothing and bathed in the temple mikvah for purification. Afterwards, he placed upon himself pure, simple white linen clothes. Likewise, Yeshua divested Himself of His divine glory, humbled Himself and came to the earth in human form (cf. Philippians 2) and was baptised by his cousin John (The Baptist).
The white kittel ( Ceremonial white garment that is part of traditional Jewish burial clothes; also worn by men for Passover, Rosh Ha Shanah, Yom Kippur and for their wedding.) epitomising sinless purity, which was worn by the high priest, represents for the Messianic believer, Yeshua the ‘Sinless One.’
The high priest sprinkled blood from his finger on the mercy seat (The ark or chest from the tabernacle, retained and placed in the Holy of Holies section of the temple. The chest contained the Ten Commandments, the golden pot of manna, supplied to the Israelites in the wilderness wanderings and Aaron’s rod. On top of the chest was a lid called the mercy seat on which resided His visible presence.) seven times to make atonement for the sins of Israel.
When God accepted these offerings, His presence cleansed the temple. Scripture teaches us that now through the blood of Yeshua, we have access to the Holy of Holies. The veil that separated the people from the throne of God was split in two when Yeshua offered Himself to humanity as a sinless offering and a permanent and complete solution to the problem of sin.
Many people get a distorted picture of the blood sacrifice for atonement, and consider it as some outmoded and barbaric practice that is disdainful, even when considered symbolically. The life-for-life principle which formed a basis for the sacrificial system would certainly not have been pleasant to watch, but it was never intended to be, for it was a graphic reminder of the ugliness and consequences of sin. Scripture states that,
“The life of the animal sacrifice is in the blood, and I (the Lord) have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is in the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life which it represents.” (Lev. 17:11).
Blood is also represented in Scripture as a symbol for life:
“Blood represents life itself. Blood is a living fluid. It brings nourishment to the body and cleanses waste. In Lev. 17:1, God was not saying that He had created blood for making atonement, but that because of its unique, biological function He had set it apart and reserved it solely and expressly for that purpose. The Israelites were not to touch it, nor use it for ordinary purposes. In a sense, it was to be regarded as holy.” (Moishe Rosen)
OTHER CUSTOMS AND PRAYERS
The Book of Jonah is read and studied during the period of Yom Kippur (‘Jonah’ means ‘dove’ and ‘Amittai’ means ‘truth’). When Yeshua was challenged to prove His credentials, He provided them with the sign of Jonah:
“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a large fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South (1Kings 10:1-13) will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.” (Matt. 12: 40-42)
YOM KIPPUR REFLECTION
“At some point in my early adolescence, my mother decided that she needed to take me to the synagogue. This was my first exposure to the Bernie Rosenfeld experience. It was awful, so awful. Rabbi Kleinberg finally had to surrender his pulpit and sit in the pews holding his head as Bernie verbally attacked him and the entire congregation.
Later, I left my hometown only to return twenty years later. Things had not changed at the synagogue. Bernie still attended and continued to pour his tirade against the congregation. One of is favourite targets was an old man, Eli Green, who was a quiet, humble man of stature. I remember watching Mr. Green just sitting there, quietly taking in every insult.
When Bernie was finally gone Mr. Green told us, ‘This is our kapora (atonement). Sometime before World War II, a lad of fourteen years came to our city from Germany with a Torah Scroll. He had witnessed his older brother beaten to death by Hitler Youth on his home doorstep. He had witnessed other horrors as well, but it was hard to make sense of his descriptions of them. He came to our community and screamed and yelled, ‘Jews! Do something! Save your brothers and sisters!’
The people thanked him for the Sefer Torah. They asked him to stop screaming about things they could do nothing about. He claimed they didn’t believe him. He claimed they just did not care. I know that there were European Jews saved by the community.
Comparing these efforts to the magnitude of horror and distress he carried with him from the other side of the world, Bernie saw only apathy and he never forgave them.
‘We didn’t listen to Bernie before the war,’ said Mr. Green, ‘so we’ve listened to him for the past fifty years.’”Yom Kippur 2021