YOM KIPPUR: THE DAY OF FREEDOM
BY RICHARD SISON | 2014
Yom Kippur is considered as the holiest day of the year and the most solemn of all the Appointed Feasts of the L-RD. The Scripture calls Yom Kippur as Shabbat Shabbaton, the "Sabbath of the Sabbaths" (Lev 23:32) signifying its utmost importance and no one among G-D´s people should ignore it or take it for granted. As a matter of fact, there is a warning given that whoever will not humble himself on this day shall be cut off or destroyed (Heb: karath) from among his people.
Yom Kippur literally means "day of covering". However it is best known as the Day of Atonement. It is very solemn and the most important among the Jewish holidays. Its central themes are "atonement" and "repentance". The Jewish people observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer. In Lev 23:28 we read: "Also on the tenth [day] of this seventh month [there shall be] a day of atonement; it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the L-RD." The Hebrew word for afflict used here is anah which literally means to chasten self or deny one´s self and most of the time it refers to fasting. This is the only time the Scripture requires G-D´s people to fast.
Yom Kippur marks the end of this special forty-day period of repentance (teshuvah) and it is characterized by a sense of urgency and solemnity. The phrase, "Inscribe us in the Book of Life", which is recited throughout Yom Teruah (also known as Rosh HaShanah, head of the year), is changed to, "Seal us in the Book of Life". Being inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life is a privilege and not a right; it is a favor and not something that a person deserved.
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