Yom Kippur

How I Won’t Be Observing Yom Kippur

One of my favorite stories is of the house painter who deeply regretted stealing from his clients by diluting the paint, but charging full price. He poured out his heart on Yom Kippur hoping for Divine direction. A booming voice comes down from Heaven and decrees — “Repaint, repaint … and thin no more!” Yom Kippur begins Friday evening, September 29th! (It is the ONLY fast day that is observed on a Shabbos.)

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the anniversary of the day Moshe brought down from Mount Sinai the second set of Ten Commandments. This signified that the Almighty forgave the Jewish people for the transgression of the Golden Calf. For all times this day was decreed to be a day of forgiveness for our mistakes. However, this refers to transgressions against the Almighty. Transgressions against our fellow human being require us to correct our mistakes and seek forgiveness. If one took from another person, it is not enough to regret and ask the Almighty for forgiveness; first, one must return what was taken and ask for forgiveness from the person and then ask for forgiveness from the Almighty.

-Rabbi Kalman Packouz
Aish.com

In general, observant Noahides can (but are not required to) commemorate those Jewish festivals that in some way relate to Gentiles and the overall spiritual missions that G-d assigns for them. There are some of the Jewish festivals that Noahides have more of a connection to, and they can honor these as special days (for example, with prayers and selected Torah reading): for example, Rosh HaShanah (the annual Day of Judgment for all people), and Sukkot (the annual time of judgment for the rainfall that each nation will receive, which is also characterized by the themes of unity and joy).

But you should be aware that these days are not to be commemorated by Noahides in the same way that they are commanded to be fully observed by Jews. For instance, a Noahide should not refrain from normal activities on the Jewish holy days or Sabbath, and should not perform those Jewish commandments that are religious only, and have no practical benefit for Noahides (for example, waiving the four species of plants during the Festival of Sukkot, or fasting on Yom Kippur).

The Jewish festival days of Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, Yom Kippur, Purim and Shavuot have little relevance to Noahides, other than as reminders of constantly-relevant general Torah principles.

Taken from “Noahide Holidays” at AskNoah.org

With regard to Yom Kippur, which relates to the relationship between the Jews and G-d, Gentiles should not be concerned that they are lacking in any way in their opportunity at any time for successful repentance. The fact that only Jews were given Yom Kippur, the day that Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the second set of Tablets of the Ten Commandments, should only be a positive influence, in that perhaps it may inspire a Gentile to do his or her own needed repentance on any day of the year.

Taken from “Asking G-d to forgive for breaking a Noahide Law: Does this relate to Yom Kippur?”
at AskNoah.org

As you can see I’ve been doing a little bit of reading, particularly with the High Holidays rapidly approaching. There’s no real template for how or if the “Judaically aware” Gentile disciple of Rav Yeshua should observe such events. Certainly we are not Jews and we are not Israel (yes, I’m going to be criticized for those statements I suppose), but it’s difficult to ignore such an august occasion, especially when one’s spouse is Jewish (though not particularly observant at present).

I borrowed some information from a Noahide site to gain some perspective, but I’m not convinced the Noahide makes a suitable model for people like me. They don’t take into account the blessings of the New Covenant being conferred upon us due to the merit and faithfulness of our Rav.

Yet what else is there?

I do take some comfort, especially at this time of my life, in the statement that Yom Kippur can be a reminder that I can sincerely repent before Hashem at any time at all (of course, Jewish people can too). I’m also glad the Orthodox Rabbis who administer AskNoah.org recognize that Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot have applications to both Israel and the nations, so in some manner or fashion, we can partake in those observances as well.

As with my last several blog posts here, I continue to state that what you get out of your relationship with the Almighty depends on what you’re looking for.

If you are an observant Jew, it seems that your praxis is well-defined, which is part of what “grinds the gears” of some “Messianic Gentiles,” since our model seems less distinct. Maybe that’s because it’s too easy to mistake form for substance.

I think some of Paul’s letters, particularly Romans, touched on how some Jews (perhaps converts to Judaism who had Yeshua-faith) mistook the mechanics of Torah observance for an actual relationship with Hashem. I’ve seen it in some Messianic and Hebrew Roots groups in the past.

It’s easy to get distracted by praxis unless you have the correct perspective.

If the High Holidays are to mean anything for the rest of us, I think it’s true that they can serve as a reminder that God is accessible to us too. He’s always intended that from the very beginning. We were never meant to be left out in the cold or to be considered “sloppy seconds”.

As time goes on and I attempt to do even such minor things as listen to Christian radio, I realize that I don’t have very much in common with the normative Christian church. However I’d be lying and a fool if I said that I had nothing in common at all.

The church is full of good people, faithful people, people who have repented and continue to sincerely repent and to walk before Hashem. They do much kindness, express compassion in word and deed, are at the forefront helping victims of Harvey and Irma, putting their time, money, and effort where others only put their mouths.

Whether you call yourself a Christian, Messianic, or anything else, that’s what really matters, how you live out your relationship with Hashem through your devotion to Rav Yeshua. That’s what we should take with us into the Holidays. That’s what we should always take with us everyday as we walk with God.

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6 thoughts on “How I Won’t Be Observing Yom Kippur”

  1. Netzarim Judaism being what it is, unacknowledged in most cases, one can pretty much do as one pleases about the matter in the privacy of one’s home.

    The Fall Feasts are important and will be kept in the Millenium, so I am keeping them now in my minimalist way, but all in all, simply loving one another in positive action is a big part of what G-d likes

  2. On Sunday I had a ‘what if’ moment about Yom Kippur. It will post on Thursday. That’s the second time you wrote about something I pre-posted, though from a slightly different perspective. Interesting.

  3. I’m pretty sure if you wanted to observe Yom Kippur in the privacy of your own home, the halacha police wouldn’t be kicking down your door (though technically, one must go to a synagogue to pray corporately). In any event, it’s been suggested elsewhere that Gentiles could fast in solidarity with the Jewish people.

  4. Amen! Love that book of Romans, there. Our biblestudy group has been on it for about 3 months now, verse by verse, deep study and reflection. Today was Chapter 5: 3-5… I’ve always seen Yom Kippur as my “second” birthday given I was born on the day of the feast. It’s always been special. I intend to celebrate Yom Kippur in the same way I have since my birth… in deep water prayers. I’d like to say that it is the only day when I actually pray for my own needs (again, how I was raised), and it is, but as I grow older, it is also a day in which I pray deeply for others. I do fast for the 4 days as I was taught (a mixture of my Native American upbringing) by my Gram. And as there are no synagogues nearby, I have not the capability of praying with a congregation that day.

  5. In light of “the day that Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the second set of Tablets of the Ten Commandments…”

    > I will give some examples of why I registered a serious caution (in a different thread) with regard to a common, seemingly expedient, shortcut of “keeping the Ten Commandments” (as if this is a simple matter good for all). Certainly, we should all subscribe to not having other gods and not engaging in idolatry. Amen.

    I will not attempt to be exhaustive, but let’s have a look. As for keeping the Sabbath, one can not make something up (like Saturday is for me; or make sure to attend a church service on Sunday; finit). As for stealing, we need to be very careful how we define this and how we make associated accusations, as well as how we see fit to punish; we risk bearing false witness of the God of the Bible (and potentially against individuals too) by misrepresenting what people of faith should say and promote (standing in as if for proper judgment). “Leave the corners of … fields and the gleanings of … harvests and vineyards for the poor and the stranger” [in Leviticus] is a significant element for understanding. Or shall we call “the poor” and “the stranger,” rather than blessed, “takers” or “freeloaders” or even beneficiaries of systematic theft? Now, it’s not enough, in a culture that is not Israel and not largely agrarian, for one person or a person here or there to leave the corners (or edges). The concern is for what happens to people.

    A third example [of why I said I don’t recommend trying to keep the Ten without reading the full text and context of the law, and more — such as the prophets and so on] is the pressure to marry and stay married or risk (or, forget risk, just be defined as) being an adulterer or perpetually lost fornicator in limbo. There are many complicated permutations of how scenarios play out in this area. And the rest of the law plus our own observations (and principles shared by prophets) have much more to say. The man who left Fantine in Les Miserable for his supposed higher duty to class (or whatever else one like him would come up with or make up as more important to him) is a louse [Ezekiel: they were well off but didn’t care about the needy* — which also applies to Fantine’s employer who took advantage of her]. But Christians tend to have a more naive and judgmental (but sometimes exploitative) application of their mores as stuffed under the Commandments of tablet mythology [that is, some mean to be strict; some just talk that way until they flabbergast you with their nerve and lack of concern when it comes to your well-being or conscience]. A possible application of being “wise as serpents” is to be aware of stories (and the pertinent laws, as well as other specific laws that would apply as instructive in other scenarios even if not binding on gentiles as the “Ten” are also not binding but indicative) such as Judah, who made a cluster of mistakes but took responsibility and didn’t then impose a demand of self gratification (with Tamar). And note that the sentencing or determination in the book of Acts does not include obeying** parents; parents open to corruption or seen to be inconsistent or hypocritical (a clue not to be minimized and ignored) cannot be trusted.

    * This is a very minimal, and not fully fleshed out, context wherein such a declaration is called for; yet more is meant.
    ** My use of this word is not a decision as to whether the original is better translated and treated as “obey” or “honor” (as Thou shalt not kill is probably better … not murder.)

    [By the way, I don’t condone Tamar’s actions, but it was obviously a different time… or place.. or developmental space. Judah’s actions were clearly unapproved (even where we would be aghast at what he was supposed to have happening), and I hope his other activity (that which is not the center of the narrative) is shocking.]

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