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Amazing Yom Kippur day

October 8, 2011

The nice thing about yom kippur is that you really cut yourself off from the rest of the world for a while. We turned off all computers, took out the phones, and, of course, stopped eating. After the meal yesterday afternoon, as yom kippur just started, I sat with my 7-year old son and we looked through the Arvit prayer for Yom Kippur together. It’s the prayer that is being prayed in the synagogues at the same time, and starts with Kol Nidre. We had already watched a youtube of a beautiful Kol Nidre performance earlier during the day. I was amazed at how interested he was, and really followed. We skipped some long parts here and there, but basically he followed it all the way through. Another year or two, and I’ll bring him to the synagogue.

At the same time I also showed him how long the prayer was and said “imagine praying this three times a day all you life”. Showing him what legalism can lead to. I’d rather have him say one word to God with true meaning from his heart, than pray a thousand prayers like these. Nevertheless, the prayers are beautiful, and my son does clearly see the difference between our faith and their faith. And in many ways, the legalism of the religious Jews do give them an awe and a fear of God that many Christians lack. We are often grateful for being saved, but saved from what? And how often do we take an entire day off from life and focus on our souls and reflect on where we are?

After the kids had gone to bed, me and my wife were like… ok, now what? We usually spend the evening having coffee, eating something, and watching something together. So we spent the evening reading the Bible (After less than 9 years in Israel, and without having studied Hebrew formally, nor having worked in any Hebrew-speaking environment, she is now reading Biblical Hebrew and understands it! I am so proud of her!) The regular Yom Kippur passages. Leviticus 16 (I add 17:11 to that – my Messianic input), the book of Jonah, Isaiah 57:14-58:14, Micah 7:18-20, Psalm 51.

After that we went to sleep. 3 hours earlier than usual. I tried, but couldn’t fall asleep, so I read some more. Skimmed through Hebrews, read through the 1st letter of John, and prayed some more. When I look at my life and realize the amazing blessings God has given me, I am certain that I am truly saved and forgiven. But when I look at myself, I am also amazed at the grace. Because I definitely do not deserve it. When I had read psalm 51 earlier during the evening I just felt like it was me crying out to God. But the bigger the sins, the more amazing the grace. I prayed some more, and read psalm 103 too before I finally got to bed.

Morning. Made breakfast for the kids. No problem. Then I read the kids the story of the Selfish Giant, by Oscar Wilde. It’s such a great story for Yom Kippur, and we’ve made it a tradition to read it every year. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to read the end of it without getting tears in my eyes. What’s even more amazing is that my sister found us an edition in Hebrew that hasn’t censored away the amazing ending.

I think me and wife spent most of the day in the sofa. Some times talking, some times reading. I picked a school book on history from Sweden for Junior high (7th-9th grade) that my wife had brought with her. Junior high school books are on a nice level. They’re not going too deep, and they give a good general grasp. We also read through more of the Yom kippur Bible readings – Romans 3:21-31, 2 Corinthians 5:10-21, Hebrews 10:1-12.

When we had 3 hours left of the fast (and those are the most difficult hours!) we decided to take a short walk, just to kill time, and let the kids play around. It’s the one time of the year when there are no cars on the streets, so one can walk around in the middle of the street. The kids loved it, but the sun and the heat almost killed me. I started to get migraine, and we were eventually able to stay at a playground and let the kids play while I rested in the shade. After a while I felt better, and eventually we went home. We didn’t bring any watches, so we could only guess how much time we had killed. Turned out to be an hour! Great!

After that we sent out the kids to play in the playground, and spent the last time reading. When there was half an hour left we brought in the kids, and did a small teaching on Yom Kippur. I read the entire book of Jonah (in the original Hebrew) and let the kids act the story as I told it (keeps them alert, and listening), and also asked questions about how it relates to Yom Kippur (Jonah turning from his sin, and immediately does what God told him to do. The people of Nineveh repenting of what they did. Jonah as a symbol of the Messiah, being in the belly of the whale 3 days and 3 nights, and also as someone sleeping while a storm is going on, and later making it calm…).

After that we broke the fast with a communion. I don’t think we’ve ever had a family communion in our home before. I just love that way to break the fast. Besides, we should always take the communion when we are 100% clean, and have repented from all our sins, which is exactly the state we should be in when Yom Kippur draws to a close.

We have now had food, coffee, cake, and the small kids are asleep. We have two more big kids to put asleep and then we’ll see what to do. We should get started on building the Sukka…

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