Final Day of Atonement and the Lord’s closing of “The Book of Life”
■ By Gena Estrin / Contributed
Talmud definition: the body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and legend comprising the Mishnah and the Gemara. There are two versions of the Talmud: the Babylonian Talmud (wich dates from the 5th century A.D but includes earlier material) and the earlier Palestinian or Jerusalem Talmud. “Source: Wikipedia Dictionary”
Last week I shared some insights regarding the Jewish High Holidays, with a focus on Rosh Hashanah. Together with Yom Kippur, which follows 10 days later, it is part of the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe or High Holidays).
Rosh Hashanah started an important time period to repent before G-d and our fellow humans. As we read in the Rosh Hashanah prayers, each year on this day “all inhabitants of the world pass before G‑d like a flock of sheep,” and it is decreed in the heavenly court “who shall live, and who shall die … who shall be impoverished and who shall be enriched; who shall fall and who shall rise.” Yom Kippur is the last day to repent before the Lord closes his “Book of Life.”
Yom Kippur dates
Yom Kippur starts Tuesday, Sept. 18 at sundown and ends the following day, an hour after sundown. It is an intense day of prayer and fasting. Fasting demonstrates that our prayers and the Lord’s opinion of us are more important to our survival than food or water. Yom Kippur is the ending of the Days of Awe and our final time to ask the Almighty to grant us a year of peace, prosperity, and blessing.
Rosh Hashanah is a common name for the beginning of this intensive period of repentance and means “Head of the Year.” Our head controls our body, and our actions have a tremendous impact on the rest of the year. The Torah/Old Testament, Talmud, and many of our prayers refer to the days of the High Holidays by other names too: Yom Teruah (Day of Shofar Blowing); in our prayers, we often call it Yom Hazikaron (Day of Remembrance) and Yom Hadin (Day of Judgment) since these Days of Awe is when G‑d recalls all of his creations (not just humans) and determines their fate for the year ahead. Personally I include in my own prayers and greet everyone by thinking and saying, “May everyone have a happy, healthy and sweet New Year!”
Blowing of the Shofar
Yom Teruah – Day of Shofar Blowing – is a little bit of a misnomer. The Hebrew word “Yom” means a singular day, but the blowing of the Shofar is done for many days and at many times of the day, so “Yom” should be in it’s plural term, which I think is Yomim (my Hebrew is not very good).
Last week I mentioned that I just learned that the blowing of the Shofar (ram’s horn) takes place for the entire month of Elul, the last month on the Jewish calendar. (Elul 2018: Aug. 12-Sept. 9.) Many people only go to a synagogue/temple or other sites where they can hear the Shofar call, to hear the Shofar blown on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but it is also blown during all of the Days of Repentance too.
The Shofar itself recalls the binding of Isaac, an event that occurred on Rosh Hashanah in which a ram took Isaac’s place as an offering to G‑d. Hence a ram’s horn is used to make Shofroth. The shofar blowing contains a series of three types of blasts: tekiah, a long sob-like blast; shevarim, a series of three short wails; and teruah, at least nine piercing staccato bursts. The sounds give an audio corporeality to carry our tears and woes and thoughts to our Lord.
On Yom Kippur, the final sounding of the Shofar signifies we have finished baring our souls to G-d and we make a vow before G-d that we promise to be worthy should we be inscribed in his Book of Life for another sweet year.
Temple Beth Am
Temple Beth Am, an unaffiliated Jewish congregation, has served the Hemet/San Jacinto area since 1962. It is dedicated to maintaining the Jewish faith, providing a center for Jewish life, and interacting with neighbors through community outreach.
Their services are congregation-based. They encourage and welcome everyone’s participation. If you would like to participate in any of their services, please visit their website, www.templebethamsj.org. They welcomed me with open arms when I moved to San Jacinto in January 2018.
Sources for much of the research came from www.chabad.org, and templebethamsj.org, the website of Temple Beth Am, San Jacinto. All rights are reserved by the authors. Gena Estrin is a resident of San Jacinto and a local reporter giving insight to a variety of community happenings.