The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur begins on Wednesday evening, 15 September, at sunset. The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16) is the most holy day on the Jewish calendar. This week we will see why.
THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar. The Bible prescribes Yom Kippur as a day of affliction (Lev 16; 23:26-32). In the ancient world, the High Priest woke up early, donned his priestly garments, and sacrificed a bull for both himself and his family. He then cast lots over two goats, choosing one for the Lord and designating the other as the goat to remove sin. Only on this day did the High Priest enter into the Holy of Holies in the Temple to offer incense and sprinkle blood on the Ark of the Covenant. Before concluding the sacrifices by burning both the bull and the goat, the High Priest placed blood from the Lord’s goat onto the second goat. He then cast the second goat into the wilderness, thus symbolically removing Israel’s sin.
In modern observance, Yom Kippur involves a fast from both food and drink. Many spend the entire day praying in the synagogue. During the Ten Days of Awe preceding Yom Kippur, many Jewish people give tzedakah (charity) which some consider a replacement for the animal sacrifice. A small segment of the Orthodox Jewish community practices kapparot, a ceremony in which a person waves a chicken over his head, before killing the chicken as a symbolic transfer of sin. According to tradition, the Book of Life and the Book of the Dead are closed on Yom Kippur, and the fates of those within the books are sealed for the coming year.
Next time we will see how this holy day is significant to the believer in Christ.
Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain, 907 715-4001 firstname.lastname@example.org