YOM KIPPUR

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This evening is the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

The descriptions in Leviticus of the Sacrifices in the Temple should be taken symbolically. They represent the ‘sacrifice’ of our inner negativity. The only thing we can offer to God is a more ‘fit’ state of our own soul. What is important to God is the purification of how we feel about our actions, the cleansing of emotional stains that damage our souls. So David acknowledges in the Psalms,

 

You do not want me to bring sacrifices;

You do not desire burnt offerings;

True sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit.

 

Taken inwardly, all the rules and regulations about Sacrifice help the Initiate keep the soul awake, pure, and ready. But since accidents can happen to anyone, a special annual day is prescribed in the Bible in which any and every remaining ‘sin’ or impurity, which may have been overlooked or forgotten or never even recognized, can be purged in a general, mass purification ritual. This is the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, when God is asked to forgive all the remaining sins of the people.

 

Before this day dawns, we are obligated to do whatever we can to earn the forgiveness of any person we have wronged. Only then can we face God and be worthy to ask God for forgiveness.

 

Here is part of the Yom Kippur liturgy. Notice that all these sins are phrased in the plural form – we committed them. Surely we each committed some of them, but all of them? It doesn’t matter. We are all responsible for one another.

 

For the sin we have committed before You

by hardening our hearts,

 

For the sin we have committed before You

openly or in secret,

 

For the sin we have committed before You

by wronging our neighbor,

 

For the sin we have committed before You

by spurning parents and teachers,

 

For the sin we have committed before You

by profanation,

 

For the sin we have committed before You

 knowingly or unknowingly,

 

For the sin we have committed before You

by scoffing,

 

For the sin we have committed before You

by slander,

 

For the sin we have committed before You

in commerce,

 

For the sin we have committed before You

by idle gossip,

 

For the sin we have committed before You

by envy,

 

For the sin we have committed before You

by lying,

 

For the sin we have committed before You

by vain oaths,

 

For the sin we have committed before You

 in violence,

 

And for the sin we have committed before You

by hatred,

 

For all these sins, God of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.