Parashat Ahare Mot

Yom Kippur All Year Long

The proper observance of Yom Kippur, including repentance and introspection, should bring us nearer to God all year long.

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We humans are influenced and inspired by periodic reminders of the truths we profess. The original Temple, like our own temples, was erected so that God would dwell in the hearts of our people. Like our ancestors, we are moved by the impressive rituals that take place within our temples, such as those performed on Yom Kippur. But God does not, as it were, come down to earth for only one day of the year.

If Yom Kippur is observed in the proper fashion--with no scapegoating but rather honest introspection and resolve to change--it will bring us nearer to God throughout the year. May our sacred spaces in our temples of time inspire us to come closer to God each and every day of our lives.

Questions for Discussion

How can we create mini-Yom Kippurs--opportunities for abbreviated or accelerated processes of t'shuvah (repentance)?

Who or what are the scapegoats of our time, the pass-the-buck mechanisms by which we slough off the consequences of our own misdoings? How can we confront and/or avoid them?

For Further Reading

For a full exposition of the biblical Yom Kippur as well as the role of Azazel, see W. Gunther Plaut, The Torah: A Modern Commentary. UAHC Press, pp. 858-869.

Sidney Greenberg, Teaching and Preaching: High Holyday Bible Themes, A Resource Book, Vol. 2: Yom Kippur. New York: Hartmore House, 1974, pp. 9-86.

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Rabbi Charles P. Sherman

Rabbi Charles P. Sherman, D.D., has been the spiritual leader, teacher, and counselor of the Temple Israel in Tulsa, Oklahoma since 1976. Ordained in 1969 at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, he is a Past-President of the Southwest Association of Reform Rabbis.