Yom Kippur – The Jewish Day Of Atonement

Millions of the Jewish people who will stand before God tonight will seek redemption for deliberate acts of bad behavior.

Today is the culmination of the week-long observance of the Jewish New Year.

On this day, Jews all over the globe come together in Synagogues to confess their sins to themselves and God.

They seek forgiveness, and fast for 24 hours as part of their penance and demonstration of observance and obeisance to God.

I’m a Jewish Atheist who used to be quite observant, and spent a great deal of my time in Synagogue on each Sabbath and all holidays. I also fasted during Yom Kippur with great pride because I believed in this commitment.

I haven’t been to a Synagogue for Sabbath prayers or any of the religious holy days for a very long time. And I don’t fast.

For me, Yom Kippur is everyday.

The day doesn’t pass without me thinking about what I’ve done right, and what I’ve done wrong. The Talmud, Judaism’s blue print to how we should conduct our daily lives says that we have to perform daily unsolicited acts of kindness.

As an adult, I don’t need a religious book to tell me that I should perform selfless acts of kindness.

But as a child, I needed a culture that taught me that caring is a part of living. And that was what my parents taught me, as their parents taught them, and so on.

All of which came from our Jewish heritage and religious principles.

If I had children, they would go to Jewish school and learn of our religion and culture, because it teaches much about humanitarian responsibility.

The other day, while I was shopping at Reno Depot, a store like Home Depot, in Pointe Claire, just west of Montreal, I saw a woman and her contractor just ahead of me at the check-out counter.

She needed a specific type of screw for her project. Just one.

At the cash, just before her turn came-up, she asked her contractor if he thought the store would allow her to have this one screw (which she held in her hand) for free.

He shrugged.

So, as the purchaser before her was about to leave with what he bought, she carefully placed this one screw in the wagon so it would not fall through the plastic mesh.

She presented her “other” items. Paid her Bill. And walked out of the store with her contractor pushing the shopping cart.

As soon as she reached the pavement, she reached into the basket and took-out the carefully placed screw which she then put into her pocket.

She cheated the store and the person who will buy the box of screws from which she stole this one item.

I thought about confronting her. I even thought about going to store security and telling them that this woman was a thief. Then I decided to do nothing but shake my head in disgust and sadness.

Yom Kippur is a day when people like this woman stand before God to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness. She could, or could not be Jewish, but that’s irrelevant since everyone must live to a set of morality common to all.

For someone like her, there can never be forgiveness. What she did was deliberate. And given the opportunity, she will do it again.

Millions of the Jewish people who will stand before God tonight, will seek redemption for deliberate acts of bad behavior.

Whether that behavior was cheating on a spouse. Littering from their car. Not cleaning up after their dog. Knowingly not paying for a food item forgotten to be added to a restaurant meal. Or screwing a contractor because they can, is irrelevant, since all were conscientious acts of bad behavior.

Anne and I live every day as if it is Yom Kippur. So do our friends, or else we wouldn’t have them as friends.

I wish that all of my Jewish friends and family who will be at the Synagogue tonight resolve that they too will live their lives as if every day is Yom Kippur. And maybe then, they will believe as I do, that redemption isn’t just once a year.

And for my Christian, Agnostic and Atheist readers: every day should be Yom Kippur for you as well.

1 Comment

  • My opinion is that Ameicans/Canadians stay out of Israel right now. They don’t need us there to look after. As far as the Muslim people, they are in my opinion all cowards, Hamas hiding behind women/children, and the people letting them. Where are the Galganov’s in there culture. let’s keep in mind that there are 100’s of thousands muslim in our countries. Are we heading toward the same situation as in their country? Great article, thank for your voice Howard.

    Jeffrey Koinm, Mercedes, Tx. 78570

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