Posts Tagged Yom Kippur

Answering the Once-a-year Jew

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imagesIn a letter to Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, a former student he calls “Sarah” grapples with her indecision over whether she should continue to attend Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur eve. Having discarded the Torah observance of her youth to intermarry, she still feels drawn to this one last vestige of Jewish practice.

Sarah confesses that she feels like a hypocrite, and she wonders whether she angers God by standing before Him on the Day of Atonement when she is not even fasting, and when her whole life is a rejection of His commandments.

In his column in Mishpacha Magazine, Rabbi Feldman invited readers to offer their own responses.  Here is mine:

Dear Sarah,

You ask in your letter whether God sees you as a hypocrite for coming to shul on Yom Kippur.  Your question contains its own answer.
Read the whole article here.

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Gaining entry to the Glorious Kingdom

Aharon shall place lots upon the two goats: one lot “for God” and one lot “for Azazel.”  Aharon shall bring close the goat designated by lot for God and make it a sin-offering. And the goat designated by lot for Azazel shall be stood alive before God, to provide atonement though it, to send it to Azazel into the wilderness.

Vayikra 16:8-10

imagesOne of the most puzzling and disturbing rituals in Jewish practice is the goat “for Azazel.” During the afternoon of Yom Kippur, two goats are brought before the Kohein Gadol, the High Priest.  By lot, one is chosen to be placed upon the altar as a sin-offering, while the other is taken out into the desert and thrown alive over the edge of a sheer cliff. What purpose could such a practice possibly serve? In truth, the symbolism of this ritual is astonishingly simple and frighteningly relevant.  The two goats, identical in every way, symbolize the two possible futures that stretch out before every single human being.  Like these goats – which appear indistinguishable from one another – many of the paths open to us in our youth seem equally attractive and filled with opportunity.  Every child demonstrates both qualities of virtue and qualities of selfishness.  Whether our higher or lower nature will win out in the end can never be reliably predicted.

To read the whole essay, click here.

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Into the Void

Suspended between Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur, some reflections on our relationship with the Almighty and with others.

It’s all about trust.

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