|So, what is our Yom Kippur observance really all about?|
|Teshuvah (sincere repentance), self-introspection, new hope, new vision, new convictions and new resolutions and new pledges.|
|For what purpose? To enjoy a happier more successful proceeding year only? Or is there something greater behind it all?|
|Is Yom Kippur only about Teshuvah, making right with HaShem and those around us whom we have failed – or is there something more of which this Sacred Day is a metaphoric, emblematic symbol or foresight?|
Perhaps the Closing Kadish Prayer of this Day-long service sums it up in the Yitgadal Blessing (as also other allusions in the extended service): “Glorified and sanctified be God’s Great Name throughout the World which He has created according to His Will. May He establish His Kingdom in your lifetime and during your days and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon.”
After all, this forecast is declared in the Shemah which is the foundational Prayer Blessing of Judaism (Deut. 6:4):
“Hear O’ Israel, HaShem is our God, HaShem is One
Blessed is His name, whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever..”
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד
בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד
(Also Psalm 145:11,12,13).
Citizenship of this Kingdom will be conditional upon Covenant Observance (Torah observance) as has been the conditions for Israel’s inheritance and remaining in the Land since these terms were established at Sinai (Ps. 103:18,19).
The much accentuated Teshuvah (repentance) aspect of Yom Kippur (and of the month of Elul, following Tisha B’Av) should therefore really be about accepting and restoring Covenantal Responsibility – for what Purpose? To qualify for citizenship of HIS Kingdom, granting Eternal Life to those who will qualify in the Yom Kippur Judgment at the Final Redemption.
This underlying theme is confirmed by the eschatological vision of this week’s Parashat Ha’azinu (‘Give ear, listen to this …”). The Song of Moses featured in this 3rd last chapter of the Torah (Parashat Deut, 32) at the conclusion of our Annual Cycle of Parashot readings of the entire Torah.
This Parashah features Moses’ Song in which he lauds the Supremacy of the Creator and the nation’s failure to conform, for having forgotten their Creator. He assures us of the fidelity nevertheless of HaShem to His people and refers to the time when HaShem shall take vengeance on those nations who persecuted His People. This has given rise to the questioning by His People, throughout the centuries of their suffering under the nations for being the People of the Creator God and for representing His Torah, i.e. His Will: “Why does He allow bad things to happen to His People” while the nations who reject Him seem to prosper (certainly in their persecution of Jews)?
This question goes deep. Erudite Jewish commentator, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, confronted this question in a BBC featured interview with foremost atheist Prof. Richard Dawkins. In this discussion they also address other commonly held convictions like the very existence of a Creator God or not. While this discussion offers very deep religious (pro) and science (anti) responses, I would suggest that Parashat Ha’Azinu and the deeper meaning of Yom Kippur holds the elementary answer to both these questions:
- Does a Creator God exist? – and
- Why does God allow bad things to happen to His People?
Does a Creator God exist?
The erudite and seeming powerful reasoning that Prof. Dawkins (and the atheist fraternity) present, overlooks the basic underlying reality: Science has been evolving with the advance of mankind in discovering, progressively, the scientific basis of all life, cycles of nature and materials on earth. And all follow a distinct rule of law. It is impossible that the Universe with all its ‘content’ could exist without such law – and evenly impossible that all the discoveries of science could succeed in revealing this ‘controlled system’ behind it all, if it all happened by ‘co-incidence’. Every product on earth needs a producer, who holds the ‘manual’ of the operation and capabilities of that product. The Universe with all its wonders (which science has been unraveling for millennia) could not have ‘happened’ in some way by itself. It requires a highly intellectual mind to have created it. Similarly, a monkey could not have invented something as basic as a chair, or advanced as a wheel – never mind all the technical wonders of our era. The existence of a Supreme Creative Mind and Power should be an elementary conclusion beyond any debate. And this is confirmed in our Parashah as part of the Yom Kippur Message.
Why does God allow bad things to happen to His People?
Similarly, this is a hard question to resolve. Yet, the Yom Kippur connotation may hold the answer when considered in its overall context to HaShem’s Plan for humanity.
Understanding God’s Plan for mankind should shed some light on why He is proceeding in a way that surely can be questioned by man. Consider therefore, the evidence that we have in the Bible in this regard as projected across the following dispensations:
- Creation of man in a re-organized Global environment. (Genesis ch. 1).
- Degeneration of mankind leading to annihilation of humanity in the Flood of Noah.
- Restart, evolving into degeneration once more, leading to division of mankind at the Tower of Babel.
- Election of Avraham as Pioneer of the Hebrew Nation to serve as God’s ‘Light unto the nations’. Then Divine Promise of Blessing of his innumerable generations amongst all nations to inherit the Promised Land with its Blessings for Covenant conformance.
- 1st Exodus of His Elected Nation (Israel) in release from slavery in Egypt.
- Entry into Promised Land and building the World Empire of King David in the Land of Israel (1000 BCE).
- Degeneration and exile over several centuries of the entire 12-Tribed Nation of Israel. First the 10-Tribed House of Israel by the year 720 BCE thereafter two successive exiles of the House of Judah (finally after the destruction of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem 70 CE).
- Promise of Return of the exiles to the Land to rebuild it for its destined future as the Universal Kingdom of God under the direct Rule of God, through His Nation, bringing Global Rule over the nations. This Return would bring back, first, the identified House of Judah (since 1948) and thereafter the House of 10-Tribed Israel which requires re-identifying as Israelites, having lost their Hebrew identity over the last 2700 years (which is currently in process as millions of non-Jews – lost Israelites? – turn to Torah observance and pro-Israelism and pro-Judaism).
This is where we are in TIME today, now heading for the Final Redemption once the 10 Tribes have returned to re-unite with Judah to become ONE Nation through which God will Rule over the World.
The establishment of this Kingdom is what not only Yom Kippur pre-figures, but also the entire 7th month Festival Cycle. In the Final Redemption Event, with the citizenship qualifications sorted out on Yom Kippur, the proceedings will move on to the ‘Succot’ Marriage Celebration and the launching of the Universal Kingdom of the Creator.
So, how does this answer the problematic question of ‘Why God allows bad things to happen to His People?’
Simple: God is bound to His Oath that He would see Israel through; that they would bow the knee before Him in the End – for which He would then award them with Divine embodiment of His Torah (Jer. 31:31 – in context from verse 1. Also Ezek. 11:19; 36:27; 37:24) – perhaps (we say this cautiously) rewarding them even with Divinity!
It would be autocratic of the Creator to award such a Reward to a creation of humans that do not qualify for it. It would make Him a Puppeteer to have created human beings who were all divinely imbued from the start. Consequently, He created man with a FREE Will to choose between good and evil to evolve towards Divine compliance. His intervention in this Process would negate the Divine Perfection of His Will and Being which will become evident and thus proven to mankind at the Time of the Final Redemption (Ezek. 20).
At the Time of Noah’s Flood, the Creator regretted having made mankind, for the evil intentions that they chose. Yet, His intentions and His Promises prevented Him from wiping out all – so He saved Noah and His Family and restarted the process after.
Then He elected Avraham to father a Nation whom He oathed to bring through – by their free choice. Ezek, ch. 20 gives an entire overview of this and why He cannot relent. Do read it before continuing.
Which answers why He cannot interfere, even with monsters like Hitler murdering millions of His People. He could have demolished him with a thought, being the Creator.
Now this could spark further questions against Him. Our response to that is: figure out and consider for a minute, how devastating it must be for Him to have the Power to change things while being forced by His Oaths, to endure it all (READ Ezek. 20). This is behind human conception to fully grasp.
And all this, to afford US the opportunity to qualify for citizenship of His Kingdom.
That is the meaning behind Yom Kippur