It’s been interesting watching the people these past week or so as they come to their most holy day of the year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
The 10 days leading up to this day are called the “Ten Days of Awe” which means you have 10 days to seriously search your life to see if you know of anyone you have offended during the past year, or, alternately, if you have failed to forgive someone for an offense.
To a Jew, no atonement is available to someone who doesn’t have a clear conscience. So you have 10 days to get your conscience clear. I wonder if it was this practice during the time of Peter and Paul, which caused both of them to have so much to say about having a clear conscience.
Throughout Jerusalem the sirens began their mournful wailing this afternoon earlier than they would on a typical Friday afternoon, telling all of Jerusalem that Yom Kippur would begin soon. Most stores already closed by noon.
Like Easter for Christians, a large percentage of non-religious Jews attend synagogue early this evening.
But, after supper, an interesting phenomenon begins: Since no one would dare drive a car tonight (the Ultra Orthodox gather rocks to stone any car seen on the road), entire communities turn out to take a stroll. Children are everywhere, zooming up and down the empty streets on their bikes, while parents push strollers or just watch their children play in the street. The noise of happy children can be heard until very late–long after I go to bed.
Of course, unlike the Jewish Day of Atonement, which must be repeated every 12 months, our atonement was already made for us by God, Himself, once and for all, for those who accept His sacrifice: the gift of His son.
Tomorrow is a full day of doing nothing which will end at sundown with much celebration when stores, bars and nightclubs again open and people begin their New Year.
Jewish question of the day: A man invented a product to help a very small group of Orthodox Jewish men in their work. Eventually, it was discovered that this product was useful for a different purpose and, now, nearly everyone in the world uses it for this new purpose. The problem is that it is illegal for Orthodox Jewish men to use the product in the way it is used by everyone else. What is the product and what was its originally intended usage?
Answer to last Jewish question: In the Book of Job, God shows His deep concern for people who do not even believe in Him. On the Day of Atonement, Jews read this story to see how deeply God cares for all people and what lengths He will go to bring them to a place where they can have a clear conscience.