Tag Archives: Torah Law

No Traditional Yom Kippur

Our Hebrew observance of Yom Kippur is not what you’ll find in the search engines; the current traditions that have been set for many years are not followed among our people.

In fact, I was astounded to see a search option come up to show that the scapegoat was taken to its death on this Holy Day.

Not so.

In fact, as I pondered on that change to the commands, it occurred to me that my picture of that scapegoat was also in error.

When the bull and the two rams were chosen for Yom Kippur, it would not be clear which of the rams was to be the offering and which was to be the scapegoat, as the lots had not yet been cast by the High Priest.  The rams would have both been choice, healthy and vigorous animals.  Fit, without blemish, choice for offering to Almighty.

The ram that was sent away with the sins of the community figuratively upon its head would have been capable of survival in that wilderness, should it make it past the predators in the early time period.  Accustomed to domestic life, there would be a quick learning curve – or death.  But the ram was not sent to die – rather it was released to freedom, to a clean slate.  Its choices would determine its future.

So it is for us, should we follow the commands – the command to refrain from work and the command to afflict our souls.

Unlike the days of unleavened bread, where we’re commanded not to eat leaven, we are not commanded not to eat on Yom Kippur.  We’re commanded to afflict our souls.  That is a hard concept and leaves some room for translation.  To my mind it means to reflect, to self-examine and find my inner motives, my inner workings and check them against Torah expectations to see where I find myself lacking.  It’s also to recall where I’ve made outright errors according to the Torah laws and to acknowledge that guilt, that fault that should have already had restitution made and to bring that to the forefront as an item that would today be released.

And so the day began.  A pot of coffee to stir the mental works.  A bit of rest upon the cozy sofa as the achy morning muscles and joints stirred and loosened.  A little bit of music once the brain cells were beginning to fire.

Then the journal and favorite pen were pulled out and the commencement of self inspection began.

Well timed, the Holy convocation – the meeting with the community – was announced and began, only moments after the pen was set aside and just after I had snacked on curry seasoned cashews.

We discussed our perspectives on the day.  We talked about the happenings of the week, and a few current events.  We discussed concerns over family, and life.  And then we spent some time talking of those joys we’ve had, those things we look forward to and relish, and how thankful we are for those.

After the convocation, a quick lunch and a short walk for the dog, I returned to the inspection and discovered a few more items for which I could find reason for relief of guilt, for cleaning the slate.  Items that I could improve upon.

Not every moment of the day has been spent wallowing in self pity for wrong doing – and moments outside of the meeting and the self inspection were not swept away by napping.

I set a bluegrass station on the stereo as background and did some wishful thinking, some reading, and some thinking about the fall weather approaching.

And look forward to the evening and a clean slate – and a full return to the rituals commanded by Almighty.

 

Rights? What Are Rights?

I keep hearing ‘God-given rights’.

I want to know:  what are those rights?  Seriously?!

If those rights are based on something that isn’t factual, frequent repetition of those words doesn’t by default make them law.

If those oft-repeated rights are based on something seemingly factual but being attributed to the God of Torah, the God of the Old Testament, then the title of God has been taken in vain.  Dangerous ground there, slippery slopes and all.

God given rights are to breathe, to multiply, and to die. Given equally to mankind, to animals as well as to plant life (breathe termed in alternate forms) and organisms.

Choice is an option given mankind. Not a right, an option. People often choose to be emotionally driven.

Right to live?  Well, until you die… sure.

Liberty? No, not a right that Almighty granted, but seemingly a cultural perception graced upon society in general.

Pursuit of happiness? Whatever. That’s another cultural perception of mankind, not a God-granted right.

The words of Torah, the history of Tanakh comes to mind… 

People were born poor.

People were in situations where there was no food, no water.

People died.

People were born into slavery.  All colors.

People were isolated into groups.

People were restricted and persecuted for their beliefs, their race, their cultures.  Across the earth.

These situations are often the direct result of consequences.  Choices made and consequence of choice being the equal and opposite reaction.  Assigned situations based on circumstance and consequence.

Breathing.

Reproducing.

Dying.

 

Rights equal to all.

The rest is conceptual. Even if penned by founders.

 

Atonement

Oh Almighty, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I and my predecessors and my offspring have sinned and done exceedingly wrong before you.

Your laws have been spurned and cast aside, your priests denied and your dwelling treated as naught.

Your creation has been given no rest and your land is profaned.

Your people no longer know your Law and your Priests no longer know your people.

Justice is treated as wrong-doing and wrong-doings are treated as just.

Knowledge has become base and lawless and laws of men exceed all boundaries.

Men think themselves  gods and make mere men their gods.  Is there no hope for mankind?  Is there no turning back to do right?

I see people whose intents seem good, yet they know you not.  Will they get the chance?

Will you remember the Land and remember the Covenant?

Is there yet a remnant left to glorify Almighty God?

Are there yet punishments to be dealt and accepted?

Praise you, oh Almighty God – your mercy gives me hope, although my transgressions are many!

Thank you for Yom Kippur and the yearly cleansing of our souls.

May your established laws and statutes be forever known and kept to make difference between the clean and the unclean and the Holy and the unholy, to show glory to Almighty, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Chag Sameach Pesach

Happy Festival of Passover.

On the fourteenth day, at dusk, we eat the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter greens, with feet shod and loins girded.  And any lamb left over from the whole roasted lamb, is not to remain until the morning, it is to be burnt entirely in the fire.

That’s what I recall from the reading.

And that’s why I don’t keep the feast, just the remembrance.  I don’t have the means to roast a whole lamb, and I don’t have a physical community with which to share the extra meat.

I have purchased unleavened crackers.  And I will rid the property of items that contain leaven tomorrow, as the First Day of Unleavened Bread, Hag HaMatzot, begins at sundown and will last for seven days.  I will also bake unleavened bread tomorrow, using a favorite recipe.

Just like any other restriction, just before the deadline, you’ll find me cramming in samples of the restricted item, slice by slice, piece by piece, bit by bit.  I’ve enjoyed buns and pound cake and toast and cookies and crackers this week.

Over-enjoyed, really.

It will be good for me to refrain for seven days.  Likely a shock to my system, considering the past month of over indulging on bread and baked stuffs.  I’m ready though.

I’m somber already, as the Holy Days always strike me as such sorrowful times.  I simply don’t consider them to be the celebrations they were meant to be, when I’m living in exile.

But I’m extremely thankful to be able to observe the Holy Days.

Todah YHWH!