Tradition Today: True atonement

08.10.2011                      10.Tischrei. 5772                      Jom Kippur

Judentum:

Tradition Today: True atonement

Yom Kippur predicated on the idea that no one is free from sin and transgression. At the very least, we do things we shouldn’t inadvertently.

Yom Kippur is predicated on the idea that no one is free from sin and transgression. At the very least, we all do things we shouldn’t inadvertently, without planning to or without realizing that they are wrong. It is impossible not to overstep the bounds at sometime or other, whatever our good intentions. All too often we also transgress knowingly and then regret it. We can do wrong, but we can also repent and be forgiven.
From the very beginning Judaism has dealt with this problem by providing ways to express regret for what we have done and giving us ritual ways of cleansing us from our wrongdoing – rituals of atonement. In general these rituals outlined in the Torah involved sacrifices. Thus when the Temple was destroyed and sacrifices could no longer be brought there was a feeling that atonement could no longer be attained. We see this clearly in the well-known story of Rabbis Joshua and Yohanan ben Zakkai soon after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. When they saw the ruins of the Temple, Rabbi Joshua lamented, saying that the place where the sins of Israel had been cleansed existed no longer. His teacher, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, consoled him with the thought that observance of gemilut hassadim – acts of loving-kindness – was even more effective than sacrifice, quoting Hosea 6:6 “For I desire hessed and not sacrifice” (Avot D’Rabbi Natan 4)….