Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Judgement And The Day Of Atonement

By Patrick Peterson

This time of the year in the Hebrew calendar is a solemn occasion. The Day of Atonement is that part of the year to take stock of the year that has passed. It is found in the Bible in Leviticus.

This is a time of fasting and adult Jews who have had their Barmitzvah and Batmitzvah are expected not to eat. A barmitzvah, for a boy, means that he has reached the age where he takes on all the commandments set out by the Torah. The same goes for a girl and this is when a girl has reached twelve years old and a boy thirteen years old.

This is a time of celebration unlike that of Yom Kippur which is the Hebrew equivalent for the the time of Atonement. Once children have reached this age they are expected to take on all the laws and duties of an adult Jew. Most parents prepare the child, once they have come of age, to try and fast which is a prerequisite for this solemn day.

How they do this is to allow the child to fast, to not eat or drink, up until lunchtime. This is done prior to their coming of age whilst they are still eleven for a girl and twelve for a boy. All adult Jews fast on this day and it is about a twenty six hour fast.

The fast runs throughout the day and starts at sunset and goes on until it is dark around seven in the evening the following day. As said no food or drink is allowed. With this in mind, some Jews have a substantial supper before the fast.

A person can eat what they like prior to fasting. It is all a matter of choice and some will only have a light meal. Others make a big meal out of it and have meat, soup and a dessert of fruit. It's not set in stone.

The Hebrew Calendar is based on the lunar year and Yom Kippur falls in the month of Tishri. It is celebrated on the tenth day of the month which begins after sunset. This is derived from the Bible or Torah as it is referred to in Hebrew.

It is a time when everyone goes to Synagogue or Shul or Temple as it is known. It is a house of worship where one can pray and reflect on the year gone by. This holiday is also called the Day of Judgement when the entire world stands before G-d and is judged not only individually but also as a whole.

Good deeds and bad deeds are weighed up. It is also believed that the year ahead is sealed. Who will die and who will live and how much income each individual will received in the coming year ahead.

There are different parts to the Synagogue service throughout the day and Jews spend the whole day in Synagogue and follow the service. There is a section called Yizkor where those that have passed on are remembered. At the end of the day, the service concludes with the Neilah prayer when it is believed that the gates of heaven are open and a person has this time to pray for anything that he or she requires.

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