In an effort to learn more about the seemingly endless religions of the world, I have made recent attempts to search the web for more information. Today's post is the result of one of these searches. The idea came to me when I noticed that today is the day set aside to celebrate Yom Kippur. Thus, the time taken to write this post is, in a way, my method of acknowledging the event and respecting it in its own right. Please note that this attempted explanation is being made from an uneducated source (myself) and is very basic in nature.
Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday, also know as the Day of Atonement. Wikipedia describes it as "one of the most culturally significant Jewish holdays".
The day is observed by fasting and by prayers for forgiveness of sins that may have occurred during the previous year. Prior to the 24 hour period, followers will feast to prepare for the fast. Following the fast, another feast is held to celebrate the cleansing of sin. Celebrations for the coming year are held during this feast.
During Yom Kippur, prayer services are held both publicly and privately. The Jewish believe that God writes one's fate in the "Book of Life" on Rosh Hashanah. They believe that He waits until the end of Yom Kippur to decide if one's fate is sealed. Therefore, the Jewish people try to repent for any sins against God or other people, by praying, fasting and giving to charity.
The repentance and fasting period is quite restrictive. Followers are asked to refrain from eating and drinking. They do not wear leather shoes or bathe during Yom Kippur. They will not wear lotions or perfumes or have marital relations during this time. There are often five prayer services held during the 24 hour period.
I acknowledge that this is a grossly abbreviated version of all of the interesting information that I read on this subject. I would have loved to site all the scriptural references and the personal beliefs as evidenced by several blogs on the subject. My purpose for writing this essay, however, was to give a brief explanation of the subject. I feel that I have accomplished this goal.
The Jewish religion is an ancient belief system. Though I am not of this faith, I do regard it as fascinating and have found several similarities to my own beliefs. I feel it is important to learn about other religions to better understand your own.