Yom Kippur: A Day of Joy and Intimacy

Posted by Meesh Hammer-Kossoy on September 18, 2017
Topics: Yom Kippur, The High Holy Days

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, holds a special position as “The Sabbath of Sabbaths” (Lev. 23), i.e. the holiest day in the High Holiday season. It is an opportunity to heal rifts that inevitably grow in our spiritual life, obtain forgiveness for misdeeds and to open a “new page,” so to speak for the coming year. In the time of the Temple, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies and perform the Scapegoat ritual. In the modern era, more Jews flock to synagogues than any other day of the year, praying and fasting together, often dressed in white, symbolizing purity.

This unit will outline two approaches to understanding and experiencing fasting on Yom Kippur. On the one hand, fasting is an expression of a day of penance and fear, as indicated by the term “self-affliction.” At the same time, it is also a reflection of the day’s heightened spiritual state and our loving intimacy with God. Secondly, we will explore how intimacy with God is achieved through healing our relationships with one another.

Click here to read the full unit from the ICJW Bea Zucker Calendar Study Series “Feminist Inspiration for Living on the Jewish Cycle”.

About Meesh Hammer-Kossoy

Meesh teaches Talmud and the Social Justice Track at Pardes. Originally from Washington, D.C., Meesh has a B.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University. Her dissertation explored the courageous manner in which the rabbis of the Talmud created a new criminal punishment system. In 2015, Meesh completed her studies at Beit Midrash Har'el and received ordination from Rabbi Herzl Hefter and Rabbi Daniel Sperber. Click here to read more.

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