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Yom Kippur, rebirth, and a late night conversation...

Last night I was privileged to attend the evening Yom Kippur service at my rabbi friend's temple. Even as a pastor I didn't have much more understanding about the "high holidays" than the average "gentile" in the US. My friend described it from a clergy perspective by saying "it's like Easter or Christmas for Christians - when people who don't attend church regularly attend for these services." The first is Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year. It's the day that the Jews believe the world was created on. Then there are 10 days of contemplation ("Aseres Yemay Teshuvah"), much like the time when one waits for his trial before the judge. Men are encouraged in this period to reflect, repent, and "seek God when He is to be found" (Isaiah 55:6).Yom Kippur, "the Day of Atonement" (Leviticus 16:30), is not only the day of forgiveness, but of restoration. Well, that's some basic background.

I didn't know what to expect, but I went to the service anticipating it to be a little like Good Friday; contemplative, reflective, somber. In a sense, it was and the service did include some of those elements. But it was also like Easter - celebrative, thankful, and light. The point of my friend's message was that Yom Kippur provides each the opportunity to once again discover the beauty around us and in doing so, finding what is beautiful that God has placed in us. But the theme that stuck with me from the evening, in the songs, the prayers, seemingly the the whole evening was about rebirth...hmmm.

On my way home this idea of rebirth kept tumbling around in my head. It bounced off a memory of an opportunity I had to interact with rock star Marilyn Manson who once described a recent reinvention of his image/music was "like being reborn." Then I remembered a conversation Jesus had with a religious man named Nicodemus late one night about the same topic.

Recently I started looking into the Talmud and started to learn about Rabbinical thought. Much of what Jesus taught has a foundation in this way of thinking, but then He flips it and it becomes something different, something that opens up one's understanding. With the topic of this late night discussion with the Pharisee being re-birth, or being "born again," I wonder...it's just my own speculation, but I wonder if they were having this discussion around the time of the Yom Kippur holy-day. This same religious leader later protests Jesus' trial. I wonder if he had a premonition that this was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world...He who imparts justice and imputes righteousness, He who is our advocate and who has made atonement possible as the propitiation for our sin.

I haven't even scratched the surface of this topic. I did want to take a quick moment to record my thoughts. I'm also interested in doing a little more study on the subject. Mostly, I hope to have some evening conversations with my friend.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 22, 2007 7:53 PM.

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