Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Yom Kippur - 5777 - The Defining Moment of our lives. Come and see why...

…Lessons from the Wilderness, Volume Fourteen…
…Yom Kippur…
…The Defining Moment 2.0…[1] [2] [3] [4]

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:1-4 [Complete Jewish Bible]

23 Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell the people of Isra’el: ‘The designated times of Adonai which you are to proclaim as holy convocations are my designated times.
“ ‘Work is to be done on six days; but the seventh day is a Shabbat of complete rest, a holy convocation; you are not to do any kind of work; it is a Shabbat for Adonai, even in your homes.
“ ‘These are the designated times of Adonai, the holy convocations you are to proclaim at their designated times. [5]

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:26-32 [Complete Jewish Bible]

26 Adonai said to Moshe, 27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom-Kippur; you are to have a holy convocation, you are to deny yourselves, and you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai. 28 You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, to make atonement for you before Adonai your God. 29 Anyone who does not deny himself on that day is to be cut off from his people; 30 and anyone who does any kind of work on that day, I will destroy from among his people. 31 You are not to do any kind of work; it is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live. 32 It will be for you a Shabbat of complete rest, and you are to deny yourselves; you are to rest on your Shabbat from evening the ninth day of the month until the following evening.” [6]

We are on the cusp of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. I have written of this day before, back in 2014 (see footnote #10 below) and again in 2015 [7], when I said in both incidents that Yom Kippur was a “defining moment” in our lives. Part of what I wrote I quote below:

“…Our own words condemn us, our thoughts, attitudes and deeds.  Measure for measure, the scales are weighed, the books are opened and the judgment is set.  Thus, this is why I say that Yom Kippur is a defining moment.

What is a defining moment? Well, we can call it by different names -  life-changing events, milestones, crisis points, opportunities, misfortunes, pivot points…

The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as:

“…the point at which a situation is clearly seen to start to change…”[8]

Another way to put it is:

“…an event that typifies or determines all subsequent related occurrences...” [9] ([10])

What I’d like to do today is change this just a bit: Yom Kippur is more than “a defining moment”; it is THE defining moment.

Look again at the definitions of “a defining moment”. Something changes in a defining moment – changes that then epitomizes or personalizes (as the definition states) “all subsequent related occurrences”. Now, one would or should assume that I had learned my lesson from the past observances of this our most holy day; one should be able to assume I have tried to put into practice all that Father has shown me, but measure by measure I know I have been found wanting, I have been found responsible for not putting all that I have been shown or taught, to live out the lessons so that as I approach Yom Kippur this year I can approach the throne of grace knowing I have done better. Alas, it is not so. Alas, once again, I can see that what has been written in the book of life are more short-comings and failures than the right change of heart.
For better or worse, why I call Yom Kippur now “THE defining moment” has more to do with the growth I actually have accomplished, even with my warts, wrinkles, spots and blemishes. We have different approaches to the sin in our lives within the Judeo-Christian world view:
There is an old saying about Jews: get two Jews together and ask them a question and you’ll get three opinions. This is not meant to disparage the Jew – just to show that there exists a wide range of opinions on any subject. As for sin, a good example of this saying can be found at ; nine different views on sin from the various movements within Judaism. Is there a consensus? Well – maybe. Just so we are clear: consensus itself, as defining halakah (the way to walk) for the Jewish people, is viewed somewhat as sometimes being a disruptive factor; one writer states it this way:

“…those who insist that their definition of consensus definitively determines normative halakhah for the entire Jewish people, and to the extent no other opinions have halakhic merit nor other options be considered, deny not only basic logic but the Biblical and Rabbinic religious traditions they claim to defend…” [11]

Since there are a wide variety of opinions, let me give you one that I feel, in my opinion, is an adequate and eloquent summation (please read the whole article at for the greater context):

“…In Genesis 2:7, the Bible states that G-d formed (vayyitzer) man. The spelling of this word is unusual: it uses two consecutive Yods instead of the one you would expect. The rabbis inferred that these Yods stand for the word "yetzer," which means impulse, and the existence of two Yods here indicates that humanity was formed with two impulses: a good impulse (the yetzer tov) and an evil impulse (the yetzer ra).
The yetzer tov is the moral conscience, the inner voice that reminds you of G-d's law when you consider doing something that is forbidden. According to some views, it does not enter a person until his 13th birthday, when he becomes responsible for following the commandments. See Bar Mitzvah.
The yetzer ra is more difficult to define, because there are many different ideas about it. It is not a desire to do evil in the way we normally think of it in Western society: a desire to cause senseless harm. Rather, it is usually conceived as the selfish nature, the desire to satisfy personal needs (food, shelter, sex, etc.) without regard for the moral consequences of fulfilling those desires.

The yetzer ra is not a bad thing. It was created by G-d, and all things created by G-d are good.

The Talmud notes that without the yetzer ra (the desire to satisfy personal needs), man would not build a house, marry a wife, beget children or conduct business affairs. But the yetzer ra can lead to wrongdoing when it is not controlled by the yetzer tov. There is nothing inherently wrong with hunger, but it can lead you to steal food. There is nothing inherently wrong with sexual desire, but it can lead you to commit rape, adultery, incest or other sexual perversion.
The yetzer ra is generally seen as something internal to a person, not as an external force acting on a person. The idea that "the devil made me do it" is not in line with the majority of thought in Judaism. Although it has been said that Satan and the yetzer ra are one and the same, this is more often understood as meaning that Satan is merely a personification of our own selfish desires, rather than that our selfish desires are caused by some external force.
People have the ability to choose which impulse to follow: the yetzer tov or the yetzer ra. That is the heart of the Jewish understanding of free will. The Talmud notes that all people are descended from Adam, so no one can blame his own wickedness on his ancestry. On the contrary, we all have the ability to make our own choices, and we will all be held responsible for the choices we make…” [12]

·         In Christianity, the general consensus (and again, the general feeling concerning consensus can even apply here in regards to a Christian walk) is that  sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7Joshua 1:18). [13] One other “consensus” is the notion of “original sin” – defined as:

“…the Christian doctrine of humanity's state of sin resulting from the fall of man, stemming from Adam and Eve's rebellion in Eden, namely the sin of disobedience in consuming from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.[2] This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred to as a "sin nature", to something as drastic as total depravity or automatic guilt of all humans through collective guilt.[3]
The concept of original sin was first alluded to in the 2nd century by IrenaeusBishop of Lyon in his controversy with certain dualist Gnostics. Other church fathers such as Augustine also developed the doctrine,[2] seeing it as based on the New Testament teaching of Paul the Apostle (Romans 5:12–21 and 1 Corinthians 15:22) and the Old Testament verse of Psalm 1:5.[4][5][6][7][8] Tertullian,CyprianAmbrose and Ambrosiaster considered that humanity shares in Adam's sin, transmitted by human generation. Augustine's formulation of original sin was popular among Protestant reformers, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, who equated original sin with concupiscence, affirming that it persisted even after baptism and completely destroyed freedom.[2]  The Jansenist movement, which the Catholic Church declared to be heretical, also maintained that original sin destroyed freedom of will [9] …” ([14])

So which, if either is correct? Look at B’resheet (Genesis) 4:6-7:

Genesis 4:6-7 (Tanakh)

6And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you distressed,
And why is your face fallen?
7cSurely, if you do right, There is uplift.
But if you do not do right Sin couches at the door;
Its urge is toward you,
Yet you can be its master.” [15]

The high-lighted section, verse 7, is shown below:

ז. הֲלוֹא אִם-תֵּיטִיב שְׂאֵת וְאִם לֹא תֵיטִיב לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רֹבֵץ
 וְאֵלֶיךָ תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ וְאַתָּה תִּמְשָׁל-בּוֹ:
[Ha·lo eem-tei·tiv s’et ve·eem lo la·pe·tach cha·tat ro·vetz]
7. If you do well, shall you not be accepted? and if you do not well, sin lies at the door.
 And to you shall be his desire, and yet you may rule over him.[16]

7.  …Surely, if you do well, you shall be upstanding; but if you do not do well, sin shall be a rōbhēṣ at your door…

הֲלאׁ אִם תֵּיטִיב שְׂאֵת וְאִם לאׁ תֵיטִיב לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רׁבֵץ
halo’ ’im tetibh še’eth we ’im lo’thetibh lappethah hatta’th robhes [17]

 This is one of the most difficult and obscure Biblical sentences. Cassuto goes through a lengthy but brilliant analysis of this passage to give us a clearer sense of what actually is said here:

“…Now, having explained each difficult expression in the Divine utterance to Cain separately, we shall be able to grasp the connection between them, and the sense of the address as a whole:
‘…Why, my son, are you grieved, and why do you hang your head?
There is no cause for it; you have only to do well and then you will be able to stand firmly on your feet, with upright stature. But if you fail to do well and begin to sin, then the sin shall become a רׁבַץrōbhēṣ unto you, and this rōbhēṣ will long to bring you low and cause you to couch upon the ground like itself.
Nevertheless you are not delivered into its power, and if only you have the desire, you can oppose it and overcome it and free yourself from its influence (but you will be able to master it)[18]

He explains ‘rōbhēṣ’ in this manner:

“…Seeing that of all the synonyms denoting various kinds of officials the name rōbhēṣ and not another was chosen, the choice cannot have been accidental; conceivably, the appellation was chosen because it carries the nuance of couching, of lying upon the ground, of clinging to the ground, in contrast to the upstanding position implicit in the word שְׂאֵת śeeth. The verb רָבַץ rabhas in the Bible not only signifies to lie down in order to rest, but also to bow
down beneath a heavy burden. In Exod. xxiii 5 it is written: lying רׁבֵץ] rōbhēṣ] under its burden, and in Num. xxii 27: she lay down וַתִּרְבַּץ] wattirbas] under Balaam. There is an allusion to this sense in the word רׁבֵץ rōbhēṣ of our verse. The rōbhēṣ’, which is sin, will long for you (its desire shall be for you), that is, it will endeavor to have dominion over you, to keep you near to itself, and to make you couch on the ground just as it does. If once you start to sin, sin will draw you to itself more and more. It is similar to the thought expressed in the rabbinic aphorism: ‘one transgression
leads to another’…”[19]

So, what is my point here? Sin – seeks us out, longs to trap us, endeavors to have dominion over us. Once we start to go down that path, it can only draw us deeper and deeper into its snare, its web. It isn’t as most of Christianity thinks, that man is either inherently depraved or born a sinner – for this would indicate that somewhere G-d failed to create a perfect creation – but that there exists within us the capacity to sin, but that we can have dominion over this capacity and not have to succumb to its draw, its pull. Sin then, in my opinion, is a learned trait. It comes forth from the propensity of our ability to twist the inherent moral inclination that G-d gives us into the learned trait of yetzer ra – the evil inclination.

Hence, this is why Yom Kippur (or more correctly Yom ha’ Kippurim as there are more than one atonements mentioned in Leviticus 16:33) is, for myself and each individual, the defining moment in our lives. It is here we can realize that we are no longer just defined as a “natural-born sinner”. The idea of original sin or the total depravity of man goes in the face of the notion that we were created in the image of G-d. Yes, Adam and Chava [20] sinned; but Chava was enticed and then let rōbhēṣ crouch at the door;
Genesis 3:6 (NET)
3:6 When15 the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food,16 was attractive17 to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise,18 she took some of its fruit and ate it.19 She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.20 [21]

I’ve said it before, once mankind ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it began to kill us – and it has been killing us ever since. Our capacity to sin is taught to us at an early age; the nature that is fed is the nature we nurture, the nature we end up with; yetzer ra or yetzer tov.

Whether or not these two natures exist within us is not the point here; what is the point is what we do with them. And here is the beauty of Yom Kippur. We know we can choose the right nature – G-d has given us first the Torah to guide us, and second, Yeshua the Messiah to keep us in the right way. Even if one does not hold that Yeshua is our Messiah, then walk the way that Father intended, the way of Torah – I truly feel it will lead you to Messiah anyway, but in the meantime, at least the rōbhēṣ no longer crouches at the door to your heart, and the yetzer tov becomes the guiding factor in your life.

Life is full of moments that define us; school, marriage, career, children… Yet, the defining moment of Yom Kippur tells us that we can find forgiveness; we can re-align our purpose; we can atone and make atonement with G-d, get right with Him and walk anew the narrow path that leads to life. Rōbhēṣ does not have to crouch outside our doors – making us afraid to ever come out into the day – night doesn’t have to be full of terrors. The light of G-d shines bright for us each year as we put aside the things of this world and take on the things of G-d. We can put away the pursuit of material things, live a simpler life style so we have more time for G-d, more time to feed the yetzer tov; we can do acts of tzedakah (charity) of follow the way of gemilut hasidim (acts of lovingkindness); chesed (mercy) can be our banner, justice for the widow and orphan our goals. All these things are possible only if we come to the defining moments of our lives, where we put aside the things of man for the things of G-d.

So as we strive to put aside the rōbhēṣ and take on the yetzer tov, don’t neglect the prayers for Jerusalem and our Jewish brethren. Don’t forget to petition YHVH for forgiveness of the collective sin of the church against Israel, of the collective sins of the leaders (past, present and future) of our own nation; weep between the porch and the altar for the lost, the hungry, the homeless, the veteran, the children who go without. Pray for the reconciliation of the races of man, black, white, red, brown, yellow… we are all G-d’s children. Pray for the warriors, the police, the firemen, the first responders, the thin lines that keep the rōbhēṣ and yetzer ra at bay. And pray that the favor of YᵉhoVAH Elohim be upon you and yours today, that forgiveness abounds in the lives of those you love – this day, the defining moment, Yom Kippur.

May YHVH richly bless you all, my beloveds, Amein.

[1] Authors note: Use of information from Jewish-themed websites should not be construed as these sites endorsing or confirming any thesis introduced by the author of this epistle. I present the information from their respective sites for instructional purposes only and/or to aid in the readers understanding of the subjects discussed. The inverse is also true – by using these sites in no way confirms or denies that this author holds to all things found on these sites – but brethren, we all can learn from one another, Jew and Gentile; may it be so in shalom and love and respect.
[2]  Author’s note:  Throughout this study I’ll be using the Net® Bible and the Net® Notes: within the notes you’ll see symbols like this: ( א B Ψ 892* 2427 sys). These are abbreviations used by the NetBible© for identifying the principal manuscript evidence that they (authors and translators of the NetBible©) used in translating the New Testament. Please go to and see their section labeled “NET Bible Principals of Translation” for a more complete explanation on these symbols and other items pertinent to the way the NET Bible uses them.
[3] Author’s Note: In these studies, I have used the notes that come along with the passages I cite from the sources that I cite: these need a bit of a disclaimer though. As in all things, not everything that is footnoted is something that I necessarily agree with, especially if it contradicts what I believe pertains to any matters of the Torah or the commandments of G-d. I give you the notes as they are written by the authors of the material I cite from, so that you can see the information contained within them. It truly is not my place to edit or correct them; if they state anything that is in opposition to what I teach, then so be it. I will address these issues if requested, but for the sake of brevity (as if any of these posts of mine are brief ) I insert them and let them stand as they are. If I don’t agree with them, why do I include them you might ask? I don’t believe in censuring anyone’s opinions or scholarship; as I would not want mine censured, so I will not do to that to another. As Rabbi Hillel once stated, “What is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Torah. Go and learn it.” Torah leads me to respect others, even if I disagree; it leads me to present both sides of the coin, even if it could mean I’d lose part of the argument. That is not to say I should not challenge something I believe contradicts the truth of G-d’s word; that I will do in the main body of my epistles; that is where my gentle dissent belongs. Most (but not all) of the differences will come when I quote from the NET® Bible (but not exclusively); it has a decidedly Western/Greek mindset to it, but as a wise man once said “How do you eat chicken? Swallow the meat and spit out the bones…” I do though want to present the NET® notes because there is a wealth of information and research contained within them that I hope you find helpful.
[4] AND One more Author’s Note: One may wonder why I omit the “o” when I write the title “G-d”. While there are many who say that to leave out the “o” is a sign of being under the influence of the Rabbis who forbid saying the name of Yahveh, I say, one must come to a conclusion on their own, and do as their heart convicts them (within the bounds of G-d’s word of course). I believe in the power of the name of the Most High – the name of Yahveh – and in uttering it in awe and reverence, yet find no contradiction in my soul for the hyphenated title “G-d”. I have written it both ways – stopped doing it, and now I have returned to the practice – as I said, one must follow the conviction of their heart. I do not disrespect anyone else’s opinion on this matter, and regardless if you think it wrong or right, I ask for the same respect. Let each be fully persuaded in their own mind and heart – and let G-d sort it out with each believer. For now, this is right for me, till the Father corrects - or confirms; I am after all, a work in progress. Shalom. 
[5] Stern, D. H. (1998). Complete Jewish Bible: an English version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) (1st ed., Le 23). Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications.
[6] …Ibid… Stern, D. H. (1998). Complete Jewish Bible: an English version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) (1st ed., Le 23:26–32). Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications.
[12] From the article “Human Nature” at © Copyright 5756-5771 (1996-2011), Tracey R Rich; Unless otherwise stated on a page, the contents of this site, including but not limited to the text, graphics, sounds and scripts contained herein, were created by and are the sole property of Tracey R. Rich. The contents of this site may be reproduced for personal, educational or non-commercial use, but may NOT be reproduced on other websites. Author’s note: Material from this site is used in accordance with this disclaimer.
[14]  Original sin. (2016, October 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:51, October 2, 2016, from 2005, p. Original sin.
Footnotes from article listed below:
2 ODCC 2005, p. Original sin
3 Brodd, Jefferey (2003). World Religions. Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press. ISBN 978-0-88489-725-5.
4  Peter Nathan - The Original View of Original Sin - Retrieved 14 October 2013.
5 Phil Porvaznik - Original Sin Explained and Defended Evangelical Catholic Apologetics - Retrieved 14 October 2013.
6  Preamble and Articles of Faith - V. Sin, Original and Personal - Church of the Nazarene. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
7  Are Babies Born with Sin? - Topical Bible Studies. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
8  Original Sin - Psalm 51:5 - Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
“End Wikipedia Notes”
Meaning of verse uncertain.
[15]  Jewish Publication Society. (1997, c1985). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures: A new translation of the Holy Scriptures according to the traditional Hebrew text. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.
[16] Hebrew/English Transliterated Bible [Torah, Prophets, Writings]; Bible 1 and 3. Copyright © 2011-2012 Hebrew World, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. Note: this unit (Bible 3) includes the Hebrew/English Bible. The Bible itself is not copyrighted, Duplicating or copying of any page of this unit (Bible 3) is permitted with no limitations. Any kind of electronic distribution of the whole unit (Bible 3) is not permitted. Duplicating or distributing, by print, electronically or by any other form, of any page of the unit Bible 1 without written permission of the publisher is a violation of Federal Law. Used by permission, all rights reserved.
[17] U. Cassuto. A COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS. PART I, FROM  ADAM  TO NOAH GENESIS  I-VI; Electronic Edition, taken from printed edition of 1989.  Volume 1of 2 vols. ©Varda Books, 2005. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the original publisher except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be published in a magazine, newspaper or online. pp 208.
[18] …Ibid… pgs 211-212
[19] …Ibid… pp 211
[20] The original biblical name of Eve is "Chava." As with most of the names in the Torah, the Torah explains the significance of this name, which was given to her by Adam. "The man called his wife's name Chava, because she had become the mother of all the living" (Genesis 3:20). The root of this name is connected with the word Chaya which means living, and the word "Chai" which means life. "Chava" is in causative form – i.e. she caused all the people in the future to live. (source: "Rashi" Genesis 3:20 with "Siftei Chachamim") Source: from the article “Eve’s Name” at
·                      [The following notes are taken from the NET Bible® footnotes, copyright (c) 1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press L.L.C. All rights reserved. Used by permission from Numbering system is unique to NET® Notes..  For more information see footnote #2 and 3.]
15 tn Heb “And the woman saw.” The clause can be rendered as a temporal clause subordinate to the following verb in the sequence.
16 tn Heb “that the tree was good for food.” The words “produced fruit that was” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied.
 17 tn The Hebrew word תַּאֲוָה (taavah, translated “attractive” here) actually means “desirable.” This term and the later term נֶחְמָד (nekhmad, “desirable”) are synonyms.
sn Attractive (Heb “desirable”)…desirable. These are different words in Hebrew. The verbal roots for both of these forms appear in Deut 5:21 in the prohibition against coveting. Strong desires usually lead to taking.
18 tn Heb “that good was the tree for food, and that desirable it was to the eyes, and desirable was the tree to make one wise.” On the connection between moral wisdom and the “knowledge of good and evil,” see the note on the word “evil” in 2:9.
sn Desirable for making one wise. The quest for wisdom can follow the wrong course, as indeed it does here. No one can become like God by disobeying God. It is that simple. The Book of Proverbs stresses that obtaining wisdom begins with the fear of God that is evidenced through obedience to his word. Here, in seeking wisdom, Eve disobeys God and ends up afraid of God.
19 tn The pronoun “it” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied (here and also after “ate” at the end of this verse) for stylistic reasons.
sn She took…and ate it. The critical word now discloses the disobedience: “[she] ate.” Since the Lord God had said, “You shall not eat,” the main point of the divine inquisition will be, “Did you eat,” meaning, “did you disobey the command?” The woman ate, being deceived by the serpent (1 Tim 2:14), but then the man ate, apparently willingly when the woman gave him the fruit (see Rom 5:12, 17–19).
20 sn This pericope (3:1–7) is a fine example of Hebrew narrative structure. After an introductory disjunctive clause that introduces a new character and sets the stage (3:1), the narrative tension develops through dialogue, culminating in the action of the story. Once the dialogue is over, the action is told in a rapid sequence of verbs – she took, she ate, she gave, and he ate.
·         End “NET®” notes
[21]  Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.