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Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur

Deuteronomy 29:9–14, 30:11–20 (Morning) and Leviticus 19:1-4, 9-18, 32-37 (Afternoon)

Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. - Deuteronomy 30:11


Yom Kippur morning: In the final address by Moses to the Children of Israel, we are reminded that each and every one of us is a member of the Covenant. From our ancestors at Sinai to this very day, each of us is the heir to this sacred tradition. Our tradition is neither too difficult to learn nor too cumbersome to follow. Regardless of our station in life, Torah belongs to all of us. Finally, we are exhorted to “choose life,” to love God, to walk in God’s ways, and to keep God’s commandments. By doing so, we open our hearts to God and to each other.

Yom Kippur afternoon: In the climactic chapter of the Book of Leviticus, we read that each of us can be holy. Each of us has the capacity to bring holiness into our lives and into the lives of those around us. Every act, great or small, can bring us closer to the sacred. We are instructed to leave something from our fields for the poor and for the stranger. We are told, “You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind.” We are reminded that we were once strangers in the Land of Egypt and so we must love the stranger. As the Torah reading on Yom Kippur reminds us, each of us is capable of doing this. The way to a life of holiness is by sanctifying each moment of our lives.

When do we read Yom Kippur?

2017 Sep 30
/10 Tishri, 5778


  • By Shira Milgrom

    Central to the "Torah"—my father, Jacob Milgrom, z"l, taught me and countless others—was the revolution of priestly theology. In the priestly view, sin was not a separate demonic force; rather, sin was/is of human volition—human beings bring sin and goodness both into the world. It is helpful to think about our contemporary understanding of the polluting power of chemical fumes or toxins in the air. In the priestly view, when we sinned, the power of the wrongdoing traveled, as it were, on waves of polluting energy, leaving its mark on the Temple. The worse the sin, the farther into the sanctuary the polluting energy penetrated. Our chatat ("sin" or "purgation") offerings were part of a ritual that cleansed the Temple of the polluting effects of our sins. Some sins were so terrible that no purification, no expiation was possible. These sins penetrated all the way to the Holy of Holies.

  • Torah for Tweens

    Sefer D'varim is known in English by the name Deuteronomy, from "second law," another attempt to correct the mistakes made by the generation in the desert.

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