The Yom Kippur Anthology

The Yom Kippur Anthology

The Yom Kippur Anthology

The Yom Kippur Anthology

Synopsis

The spiritual grandeur of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, has always appealed strongly to Jews from its ancient beginnings through centuries in the Diaspora and into modern times. Few Jews absent themselves from the community of Israel on this day, from Kol Nidre until the final shofar blast ending the sunset to sunset fast.

Excerpt

Yom Kippur climaxes a forty-day period of delving into the deepest chambers of the soul, with a view to reclaiming the spiritual insights that may have become beclouded during the past year. This period encompasses the penitential month of Elul and the Ten Days of Repentance; it attains completion with a single tekiah gedolah marking the conclusion of the Neilah services on Yom Kippur.

Scripture delineates the Day of Atonement as Shabbat Shabbaton, a Sabbath of complete rest, of inner searching and selfdenial (Leviticus 23.32). According to tradition Yom Kippur is also the day on which the second set of tablets of the Law were given to the children of Israel. On The Day, as the Talmud calls it, the Jew removes himself from the petty clamors of mundane thoughts and actions. He abstains from eating, drinking, and other physical pleasures; he strives for a rapprochement with the Almighty through concentration on the lofty ideals of Judaism.

There is a pervasive aura of sanctification in the stirring Yom Kippur liturgy. The traditional Kol Nidre with its gripping musical cadence, exuding a deep spiritual dimension; the moving, heartrending prayer Unetanneh Tokef, beginning with the call "Let us declare the mighty holiness of this day," and ending with the affirmation "Repentance, prayer, and charity . . .

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