The Joy of Yom Kippur

holy_of_holies_2014-07-06_00-28-copy

This year, for some reason, I haven’t been dreading Yom Kippur. No, I’m not thrilled about fasting, and the hours spent in synagogue (yes, sometimes even the rabbi!) but there’s more to it. I was no more organized to lead services this year than in the past, but something feels different.

This morning, when someone commented to me that “Yom Kippur is a morbid day,” I was reminded of something I came across while putting together the Avodah service, which is designed to re-enact the ritual performed by the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) in the sanctuary in the wilderness and in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. On this day, the Kohen Gadol would go into the Holy of Holies, the innermost chamber of the Temple, pronounce the “Ineffable Name of God,” and ask for atonement three times. The first was for himself and his household, the second for the priestly class, and the third for the entire Israelite community.

Unlike Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot, the Torah doesn’t command the people to travel to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur. However, in ancient times, receiving atonement for one’s sins against God was of such paramount importance that the people flocked there to witness the ritual. We’re told that when the Kohen Gadol finished his supplications, that he would be beaming when he emerged, and it was captured in a poem:

Such was the countenance of the High Priest,
Emerging from the Holy of Holies in Peace –

Like the grandeur of the star-studded pavilion of heaven,
Like the brilliance of lightning from the divine chariot …

This Yom Kippur, instead of identifying the Day of Atonement as a sad and morbid day, characterized by Yizkor, the Martyrology and fears of potential Divine retribution, may we experience the joy of being cleansed and forgiven. May we be blessed to remember that we are a nation of priests, each of us able to interact with God personally and on our own terms.

G’mar hatima tova, may you be SEALED for a year and life of health and happiness, peace and prosperity, and blessing.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Sermons

Chayeh Sarah-What We Learn From Abraham
Chayeh Sarah-What We Learn From Abraham

Va y’hihu chayay Sarah may-ah shanah v’esrim shanah v’sheva shanah shnay chayay Sarah And the years of Sarah’s life were 100 years and twenty years and 7 years, the years of Sarah’s life. This week’s Torah reading is Chaye Sarah, the life of Sarah. However, it begins...

Artificial and Real Intelligence: Rosh Hashanah 5784
Artificial and Real Intelligence: Rosh Hashanah 5784

Shalom, dear congregants, As we gather on this auspicious occasion of Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate not only the Jewish New Year but also what is often referred to as the “Birthday of the world.” The concept of creation holds a profound place in our faith, and today,...

Mindfulness-Erev Rosh Hashanah 5784
Mindfulness-Erev Rosh Hashanah 5784

A few months ago, a couple of my colleagues mentioned using an app called Ten Percent Happier, by former ABC news anchor Dan Harris, for meditation and mindfulness. No, he’s not paying me to talk about the app, or the benefits of meditation, and even though one of his...

Latest Midrash HaZak

Chukat: The Red Heifer and Our Stuff, Rabbi Andra Greenwald
Chukat: The Red Heifer and Our Stuff, Rabbi Andra Greenwald

Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe on Flickr Chukat: The Red Heifer and Our Stuff Rabbi Andra Greenwald Is it sacrilegious to feel that some pieces of the Torah just don’t make sense? In parshat Chukat, the Law of the Red Heifer presents us with one of the statutes for which...

Devarim: The Power of Retelling, Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman
Devarim: The Power of Retelling, Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman

Image from Medfield, MA public library, wallaceshealy-com-OPvCP3-clipart The Power of Retelling Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak to a university class about being one of the first generation of women and queer rabbis. At these kinds of...

Mattot: What Words Can Create, Ilene Winn-Lederer
Mattot: What Words Can Create, Ilene Winn-Lederer

Illustration ©2009-Ilene Winn-Lederer Mattot: What Words Can Create Ilene Winn-Lederer Although I grew up with a strong Jewish identity, I did not experience a traditional Jewish education and came to Torah in my late teens through influential involvement with a...

Latest Personal Blogs

Blessing My Bended Knees-A Poem
Blessing My Bended Knees-A Poem

This past week, I participated in a Ritualwell class with Alden Solovy on "Writing From One Word of Torah." I distilled 3 stream-of-consciousness prompts on the word "Baruch/Berekh," the root of which can mean "blessing' and "knee, into this poem. Blessing my bended...

The Eshet Hayil In Our Lives
The Eshet Hayil In Our Lives

Photo: publicdomainpictures.net The Eshet Hayil In Our Lives An email from My Jewish Learning about “A Woman of Valor” prompted me to pivot the next evening’s planned adult learning session to looking at these 22 verses from Mishlei, the Book of Proverbs. These verses...

Live Long and Prosper?
Live Long and Prosper?

By Oklahoma Heritage Association, Gaylord-Pickens Museum - Author, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25656727 Live Long and Prosper? January 5, 2022 began the third year of the seven and a half-year cycle of Daf Yomi, the practice of...

Pin It on Pinterest