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September 22, 2015 2:57 pm

Yom Kippur Guide for the Perplexed, 2015

avatar by Yoram Ettinger

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Yom Kippur eve at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Yom Kippur eve at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Photo: Wiki Commons.

1. Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is a major Jewish holiday of individual self-enhancement spiritually and perpetually, transforming acrimony and vindictiveness into forgiveness, peace of mind and peaceful coexistence between God and human beings, but especially between fellow human beings. While Yom Kippur prayers request forgiveness for sins committed against God, it is customary to dedicate Yom Kippur’s eve to repentance for sins committed against fellow human beings.

2. Yom Kippur constitutes a cement of the highly diversified Jewish people, inviting criminals and sinners to participate in Yom Kippur services. It emphasizes soul-searching and underscores humility and tolerance as the key features of one’s character. It commemorates God’s covenant with the Jewish people, and God’s forgiveness for the sin of the Golden Calf.

3. Maimonides, the 12th century preeminent Jewish philosopher, Torah scholar and physician, whose bust features in the chamber of the US House of Representatives, considered genuine repentance (walk and not mere talk) a central axis of Yom Kippur, in particular, and life, in general. Moreover, repentance is one of the 613 statutes of Moses – a derivative of inherent human fallibility, which produces transgressions.  The recognition of one’s fallibility requires humility.

4. Judaism opposes ascetism and self-torment, and therefore views genuine repentance as a critical engine of elevating individuals from despair to hope, abuse to assistance, intolerance to tolerance, violence to comity, isolation to integration, ignorance to knowledge and forgetfulness to commemoration (of roots and values). According to Judaism, the tongue can be a lethal weapon, and therefore, speaking ill of other people (“evil tongue,” Le’shon Ha’Ra, in Hebrew) may not be forgiven.

5. The five brief chapters of the Book of Jonah (the fifth in the Book of the Twelve Prophets) are read on Yom Kippur, underlying three universal pillars of Yom Kippur’s personal stock-taking/soul-searching: Repentance (“Teshuvah”), Prayer/Faith (“Tefilah”), and Justice (“Tzedakah”), which trigger a fourth pillar – Forgiveness. The Prophet Jonah (“dove” in Hebrew), son of Amitay (“truth” in Hebrew) sailed to a faraway land, transformed a sinful society into a pious society, while displaying communal responsibility. It has been suggested that the Book of Jonah (as well as Noah’s Ark) inspired Christopher Columbus, whose last name is a derivative of Columba – “dove” in Latin.

6. Why the name Yom Kippur? The Hebrew word Kippur, כיפור (atonement/repentance), is a derivative of the Biblical word Kaporet כפורת, the cover of the Holy Ark in the Sanctuary, and Kopher, כופר, the cover of the Holy Altar in the Temple and of Noah’s Ark. Yom Kippur resembles a spiritual cover (dome), which separates between the holy and the mundane, between spiritualism and materialism. The Kippah, כיפה (skullcap, Yarmulka’), which covers one’s head during prayers, reflects a spiritual dome.

7. Fasting is a major feature of Yom Kippur. The Hebrew spelling of “fast” (צם/צום) – abstinence from food – reflects the substance of Yom Kippur. The Hebrew word for “fast” is the root of the Hebrew word for “reduction,” “shrinking” and “minimizing” (צמצום) of one’s wrong-doing, food, materialism, egotism, arrogance and one’s perspective (private, rather than communal, soul-searching). “Fast” is the root of the Hebrew word for a camera’s aperture adjuster (צמצם). Yom Kippur re-entrenches a lesson from The Ethics of our Fathers: “Who is a hero? He, who controls his urges!”  “Fast” is also the root of the Hebrew words for “slave” (צמית) and “eternity” (צמיתות): eternal enslavement to God, but not to human beings. “Fast” is also the root of עצמי (being oneself), עצום (awesome), עצמה (power), עצמאות (independence), which are gained through the process of fasting, soul-searching, spiritual-enhancement and faith in God.

8. Yom Kippur is observed on the tenth day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, whose astrological sign is Libra (♎), which symbolizes key Yom Kippur themes: scales, justice, balance, truth, symmetry, sensitivity and optimism. Libra is ruled by the planet Venus (Noga, נגה, in Hebrew), which reflects divine light and love of the other person. Noga is the name of my nine year old granddaughter. The numerical value of the Hebrew letters of נגה is 58 (נ-50, ג-3, ה-5), just like the numerical value of אזן, which is the Hebrew word for “ear,” as well as, the Hebrew root of “listening,” “balance” and “scale.”

9. Yom Kippur is observed on the tenth day of the month of Tishrei – an Acadian word for forgiveness and Genesis. Ten has special significance in Judaism: God’s abbreviation is the tenth Hebrew letter (Yod – י); there are ten attributes of God – Divine perfection – which were highlighted during the Creation; the Ten Commandments; the Ten Plagues; there are ten reasons for blowing the Shofar; The Prayer of Veedooi – וידוי (confession/reaffirmation in Hebrew), is recited ten times during Yom Kippur; one is commanded to extend 10% of one’s earnings as gift to God (tithe); Ten Martyrs (Jewish leaders) were tortured/murdered by the Roman Empire; there were ten generations between Adam and Noah and between Noah and Abraham; a ten worshipper quorum (Minyan in Hebrew) is required for a collective Jewish prayer; there are ten parts in this document; etc.

10. A Memorial Candle, in remembrance of one’s parents, is lit during Yom Kippur. This reaffirms the “Honor Thy Father and Mother Commandment,” providing another opportunity to ask forgiveness of one’s parent(s), as well as, asking forgiveness on their behalf.

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  • Nice Article, Thanks!

  • Lies, deception, myths and Obama

    A lie is like a noxious and perennial weed that is almost impossible to root out. So it is a grand weed, the delusion and myth of an Arab people who call themselves Arab-Palestinians. Their delusion is of their fictitious past living in a land that supposedly belonged to them for millennia with their capital, Jerusalem.

    This delusion stems from the same fertile magical Arab imagination that gave us The Thousand and One Arabian Nights replete with fantastic tales of magic, wizards and Ali Baba. Both, the claim of a distinct Arab people called Palestinians and the Thousand and One Nights are an equal delusion and fantasy in the Arab mind.

    As a matter of Historical fact the Arabs residing in Greater Israel today are: Arabs from Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Libya, and Sudan, etc.

    The truth – not the delusion and fantasy – is that there was never an independent, sovereign Arab state called Palestine. Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab polity in all of recorded history. Only one people has ever made Jerusalem its capital, and only one people ever established their ancestral and biblical homeland between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea: the remaining indigenous Jewish people.

    In the years before Israel was internationally reconstituted in 1948, the world referred to its Jewish residents as Palestinians. Indeed, the Palestinian military units fighting with the British Army in World War Two were Jewish to every man and woman. Few, if any, Arabs or Muslims fought against the Axis powers during that war and indeed many served in SS units; often willing collaborators with the Germans in murdering Jewish communities in the Balkans and elsewhere. Why such Arab “collaborators” were never prosecuted for war crimes is still an unanswered mystery.

    History proves the word Palestine was established by the Romans to anger the Jews. It was then carried forward and used during the Mandate for Palestine over the territory that was granted by the League of Nations in 1920. The very Mandate which made Great Britain trustee for the Jewish people with the express international legal obligation of establishing in Palestine a Jewish homeland. At that time, the Palestine Mandate covered all of what is Israel -including Judea and Samaria, or what is erroneously called the West Bank – and present day Jordan.

    What so many in the media forget, if they ever knew, is that the Ottoman Empire was dismantled by the victorious Allies, France and Britain, at the end of World War One. At that time, many new Arab states were created with Palestine reserved for a Jewish homeland under international treaties executed by the Supreme Allied Powers.

    However, Britain violated the international treaties and reneged on its obligation to the Jews and tore away four fifths of the Mandate for Palestine territory in 1922 and arbitrarily gave all the land east of the Jordan River away to the Hashemite Bedouin tribe. Immediately, Jews were forbidden to live in what became Trans-Jordan and eventually the Kingdom of Jordan: An early example of ethnic cleansing and blatant Arab apartheid.

    The borders of the Mandate for Palestine as eventually set, determined the Arab State of Jordan as East of the Jordan River, and granted Israel all the land West of the Jordan River including Jerusalem.

    The January 1919 Faisal-Weizmann agreement confirms those terms which irrefutably state that Palestine is for the Jews.

    Interestingly, Arabs and their leaders had rejected any notion of a separate Palestinian identity. For them, the Palestine region was merely a part of Greater Syria and the Arabs were indistinct from their neighbors. Indeed, the Syrian dictator, Assad, still plots for the return of Jordan, Israel and the disputed territories.

    As far as Palestine was concerned for those Arab absentee landlords of the early years of the 20th century, living in Cairo, Damascus and Beirut, the land was worthless: barren and malarial infested.

    Then the Jewish pioneers returning in the late 19th century began to purchase the wasted and barren land at exorbitant prices, drain the swamps and redeem again the ancestral ancient beloved Jewish homeland. Through Jewish blood, sweat and tears the old neglected and desolate land was developed and again restored to former productivity. Ironically, the once again developed land brought into the territory hundreds of thousands of illegal Arab aliens who found livelihoods that were unavailable in the stagnant and corrupt neighboring Arab societies.

    The British authorities invariably turned a blind eye to the flood of illegal Arab immigrants; seeing in them as a stick to beat the Jewish residents with. Herein lays the genesis of the present day Arab claim to all the land and their descendant’s stated threat to extirpate any and all Jewish life within its borders.

    So many well-meaning people in the West, as well as latent anti-Semites, have fallen hook, line and sinker for the myth and delusion of an Arab-Palestinian homeland called Palestine. So many people now believe the delusion, fantasy and false claim by the well-funded Arab propaganda machine that the Jews came and stole it.

    Though said delusional claim sounds affecting and no doubt to the liberal mind particularly emotional with all the tugging of the heart strings that it implies, it is still an absolute lie and deception just like the weed that can never be fully uprooted.

    For so many people who are either ignorant, turn a deaf ear or are hard hearted towards the Jewish state, they are unaware and or refuse to believe that the Jews were the indigenous inhabitants of Israel for two millennia. Furthermore, such indigenous inhabitation was well before the Muslim religion was created, and before Muslim armies swarmed out of Arabia with a Koran in one hand and a sword in the other to occupy vast territories in the name of Allah.

    The pity is that there are numerous historical documents, and biblical history for all to read. Yet, for some incomprehensible reason, written history is ignored in favor of embracing delusions and lies.

    The Arabs have spread over 12 million square kilometers in the Middle East and into North Africa (the Maghreb). Israel’s territory is barely 21,000 square kilometers and may soon be reduced further if its biblical ancestral heartland of Judea and Samaria is torn from it to create in its midst a terror state called Palestine: the 23rd Arab state (just like Gaza).

    The world needs to acknowledge the million Jewish refugees mentioned above who were persecuted and expelled, with all their assets confiscated from their residence in the Arab lands nearly 70 years. The world needs to also extend to said refugees the same sympathetic obsession they extend to the Arabs; the very Arabs who needlessly left Israel at the urging of the corrupt Arab League and the six attacking Arab armies. When Arab-Palestinians stop indoctrinating their children and the masses to commit terror and violence, then there may be hope for a better international community than what exists at the present time.

    At the same time the world needs to condemn Jordan for confiscating Jewish territory and assets, and barring Jews over 80 years ago from living in what was the Palestine Mandate territory east of the Jordan River. Furthermore, the world needs to condemn the so-called Arab-Palestinian Authority from barring Jews within its territory now. Also, the world needs to condemn the indoctrination of children and the masses by the APA to commit terror and violence, and glorify suicide bombers. Only after such rightful condemnation by the world will there be equal hope for a redeemed international community.

    Meanwhile the Jews – the real authentic indigenous Palestinians – strive to live within the miniscule territory that is the Jewish state. They will continue to exist even as they are denied even one day of peace from their genocidal Arab and Muslim neighbors. Finally, the Jews of Israel now have to also survive the efforts by the American president, Barack Hussein Obama, who seems unwilling to rest until Israel crumbles under his malevolent gaze and swaggering intimidation.

    YJ Draiman