It’s maybe a surprise for me to say that I’m Jewish; I make no secret of it.
I am not a religious man, but I do have a passionate belief in the existence of God. I would never deny being Jewish, and am extremely proud of my ancestry and the history of ‘my people’.
I was brought up in a Jewish home but during my adult life I’ve found a different path, that of personal development. This is where I take my beliefs from. But with personal development often there is a connection with spiritualism and as I say I believe there is a higher power, and this belief has never left me, no matter what.
I’m of course respect the religious beliefs of my ancestry, but circumstances have led me to concern myself less with the laws laid down for us by my religion. To me the fact I believe in god, know the difference between right and wrong, and follow a path of continued development where I help others improve their lives means I’m following a righteous path and can be proud of who I am and what I do.
Yet there is one thing that I have always followed and honoured. It starts tonight. It is Yom Kippur, The Day of Attonement.
Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast and/or attend synagogue services on this day.
In Hebrew Yom means day, (marked from sunset to sunset, as instructed by God), and Kippur means to pardon, or condone. Atonement can be defined as to make amends or to reconcile — to become “at one”.
“And The Lord said to Moses, “On the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves (i.e. fast) and present an offering by fire to The Lord. And you shall do no work on this same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before The Lord your God.” (Leviticus 23:26–28, RSV)
For nearly twenty-six hours—from several minutes before sunset on 9 Tishrei until after nightfall on 10 Tishrei—we “afflict our souls”: we abstain from food and drink, do not wash or anoint our bodies, do not wear leather footwear, and abstain from sexual relationships or intimacy of any type.
We focus most of this time engaged in repentance and prayer. This is a day when we connect with the very essence of our being, which remains faithful to God regardless of our outward behavior.
The outcome in our minds is that from this solemn day, God will forgive our sins and grant us a good year of life, health and happiness.
I find this a tremendously impacting day for me every year.
To spend 26 hours on repentance. thinking about the times we have wronged god, and others. Confessing our “transgressions, feeling remorseful, making an apology, seeking forgiveness, offering restitution, soul-searching and ultimately uprooting old patterns of behaviour from our lives”.
It is an incredibly healthy process bringing a cleansing of the mind. It requires profound psychological self-awareness, recognizing our own moral blind spots and exploring the character traits that cause our moral lapses. It demands that we take full responsibility for our behavior, without hesitation or equivocation, and then take action to undo the effects of that behavior on others.
I’d like to thank Louis Newman for his article Unlike Forgiveness Genuine Repentance Can’t Be Faked at jweekly.com.
Yom Kippur is almost upon us. In these few hours before I embark on my fast I will feel excited about the great year ahead of me. With each morsel of food I eat before the fast kicks in I will use each mouthful to provide me food for thought; making sure I make the most of this wonderful opportunity to truly reflect and repent for anything I have done wrong this year.
You should make the time to reflect closely on your actions, and put right within yourself anything you feel bad for.
To all Jews around the world may God bless you with peace, health and happiness, I wish you an easy fast, Gut Yontif.