Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"To sin is human To forgive is divine"

synagogue, shofar blowing , men with prayer shawls(talit) , kapparot

I'm not religious, but there are certain religious customs that I respect and observe. Such is the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) , the holiest and most solemn day of the year for those who belong to the Jewish Faith, the day when we atone for our sins .

On this day I stop all activities, I fast, I open the Book of Prayers and pray for Divine forgiveness, honor the memory of the deceased in my family, beg for a good decree for the coming year. Candles are lit in the house before sunset. During the week prior to this day I engage in giving charity .

So, on this Sunday (27.09) from 5 o'clock in the evening until Monday(28.09) 6 o'clock in the evening I 'll be in a totally spiritual world where I don't relate to my bodily needs; I abstain from eating, drinking and other neccessities or pleasures. washing is minimum, and I don' t wear leather shoes , as it reminds of the body skin . I do nothing except reading prayers , meditating , or taking a nap... I might go to the synagogue for part of the service conducted there, to hear the cantor singing favorite passages like "All Wows" (Kol Nidrei). I emerge from this holy day feeling confident that God has heard and accepted my heartfelt prayers.

I've always thought there are two basic categories of sins: sins towards God, and sins towards Man. Recently I came upon an article by Nina Amir in the "Jewish Magazine" that mentions a third category: sins towards ourselves. Pity she doesn't elaborate. I'm very curious to know what these sins are. For instance, if I want or need something but I make no real efforts to get it, could that be sinning towards myself? I wonder.

My favorite Yom Kippur song is Avinu Malkenu - Our Father Our King ( Barbara Streissand made it worldwide famous) . I know of two main musical versions, both are beautiful. This in the video below is the more modern one ; the video opens with the rehearsal.

'Our Father Our King
Hear our voice
Our Father Our King
We have sinned before you
Our Father Our King
Bring us back to you in full repentance
Our Father Our King
Forgive and pardon all our misdeeds'


  1. It was really interesting to read this. I know almost nothing about the Jewish faith. I don't know how one could go without drinking anything for 24 hours...that almost seems dangerous to me. Thank you for telling us about this day.


  2. Informative post Duta.

    On a tv programme I saw a year or so back I seem to remember this large Jewish family in Manchester seemed to cease all work and stuff on Friday evening. They did no cooking or anything like that ... because, as far as my fading memory tells me, the Sabbath starts on Friday evening.

    Probably got it all wrong - and Yom Kippur is a different thing entirely.


  3. So beautiful, Duta. I believe we all need to take time in prayer and meditation just like you have talked about. My best friend is Orthodox and lives in Israel too. So many of the customs and practices in the Jewish faith are so good and beneficial. I saw a miraculous change in my friend and her family when they started really following their faith and honoring the Sabbath. Their family became more united and my friend and her husband became so strong in really, every aspect of their lives. The time they spent talking to God, being with family, doing charity, loving others transformed their lives! Good for you taking time on Yom Kippur! It is my wish and prayer that all of your prayers of that special day will be answered!

  4. Thank you for sharing this religious custom with us. It is nice to know about other faiths. I grew up a Primitive Baptist as I was taken to Church by an Uncle because my Father was a fallen Church of Christ and My Mother was raised Methodist. Then I almost converted to Catholism and now I am a practicing Espiscopailian. When I was baptisized in the Baptist Church, it had to be in running water, No sprinkling or baptismal pool but the Caney Fork River. Also, we had to be saved on the mourner bench before you could be baptisized. Peace

  5. Thanks for sharing that custom. Like the other commentors, I think it is interesting to learn of other faiths and traditions.

  6. Thank you Duta for sharing your faith customs. I grew up in a home of unbelievers but my daddy would drop me off at church every Sunday. My husband and I belong to a Pentecost church where we raised our children. As I see it, we are all children of the one true God which makes us all brothers and sisters in Christ no matter how we practice our faith.

    I send you my blessings on this special day sweet lady.

  7. Wow - the song brought tears to my eyes - very powerful.

    I think that we sin against ourselves when we don't believe that we're worthy of God's love. And we reinforce that belief by doing things to undermine ourselves - like not taking care of our bodies or standing up for our rights...

  8. Duta, your devotion is very admirable! I think "sinning against ourselves" might have something to do with not being "true" to ourselves or not being truly sincere in our own actions. An interesting subject to ponder, indeed!

  9. Duta, you know I like the picture of the shofar. Will it be blown during Yom Kippur or is just for Rosh Hashanah? I have a book about the feasts of the Lord that I will need to read so I can better understand your customs. I'm learning that with understanding of biblical Jewish culture, comes better understanding of His word. I will be thinking of you as you observe this holy time. Thanks for the translation to the song. Its very beautiful.

  10. Thank you, Duta. My speakers do not do well with this music, but what I heard would be lovely on a different set-up. Or maybe with an adjustment of bass and treble, if I can find where to do it!
    I agree with Lisa that learning about biblical Judaism enhances my understanding of God and His word. Actually, I don't think one can properly understand any of the Bible without some understanding of Judaism. May you have a blessed fast.

  11. Someone's Mom,

    Indeed Sue, the drinking issue is not an easy one; not drinking could be dangerous especially to people with a chronic illness. Such people should consult both a rabbi and a doctor before undertaking fast.

  12. PhillipH,

    Well, on Sabbath which starts on Friday evening, Jews are supposed to rest, not do any work, but they can eat, drink, rejoice. On Yom Kippur they are supposed also to fast.

  13. TheChickGeek,

    Thank you for wishing me that my prayers be answered. Your friend's story sounds very beautiful. I'm sure faith has greatly improved their life as a couple and as a family.

  14. Lady Di Tn,

    Your personal story regarding religion is very interesting. Thanks for sharing it And yes it's nice to learn about other faiths. Peace and Happiness!

  15. Kyslp,

    Welcome to my litle blog!
    Indeed, it's interesting to learn about the various faiths, customs and traditions.

  16. Nezzy,

    I agree with you. We're all children of the one and only God. Thanks a lot for your blessing.

  17. The Bug,

    Frankly, I thought at first that one singer is quite enough; the other two are creating a bit of cacophony. But on second thought, I realized that the two are adding power to the performance.
    Thanks for the explanation; I accept its logic.

  18. Arika,

    That's very true, and indeed, it's an interesting subject to 'ponder'. I wish however, that the author of the aricle would have clarified this subject from her point of view.

  19. Lisa,

    When I wrote this post I was thinking of the title of your blog. The shofar is blown both on Rosh Hashana and on Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur it marks the end of this holy day, and we can now eat, drink, rejoice.

  20. Dimple,

    Thank you for the blessing. Here we say: 'Have an easy Fast'.
    You're of course right about the importance of understanding Judaism as a way to better understand the Bible.

  21. What another lovely blog Duta, and I thought the song was sung very movingly. And to have a whole chunk of time to pray and meditate: wow! I am so envious of that. Most times all I get is a few minutes here and there. Hope you find the fasting and pray time of huge benefit, and thanks for sending me onto YouTube for several other renditions of that music.

  22. Vera,
    Try that and we'll see if you're still envious: fasting the whole day, no tv, no computer, no shower or bath, nothing that would be considered doing work and/or pleasure.

    Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the post and the song. Thanks for hoping the praying and fasting will help me.

  23. Thanks for mentioning my article. (This is Nina Amir.)This year I'm writing a series of blog posts on the Days of Awe, and on Day #2 I discussed sins against ourselves. Actually, sins against ourselves really become sins against God, because we all possess a spark of Divinity - our soul. You can read the post by going to my website at and clicking on "blog." Then go to the category marked "Days of Awe." You'll find it there. I hope it's of use to you.

    By the way, really nice blog!

  24. By the way, your readers seem very interested in other religious traditions. They may enjoy the podcasts I do on Conversations with Mrs. Claus each month. They also are accessible via my web site.

    I love your ballet picture. I was in New York with my son this summer while he attended the American Ballet Theatre's summer ballet intensive.

  25. cpywrtcom,

    Wow, what a surprise,Nice to meet you Ms Nina Amir, author of the article on Yom Kippur in the Jewish Magazine.

    I entered your very impressive website and found the chapter "Second Day of Awe": Sins agains yourself. Thank you very much. I enjoyed the reading.

  26. cpywrcom,

    Well, I'll pass the word around, about your website.
    Thank you very much for both your informative comments, and.. for liking my blog.

  27. Hi there Duta,
    I noticed you today as a follower on my blog and thought I would drop by to say thank you. But wow! What a great post. Thank you for making me think and giving me a glimpse into your faith.I look forward to coming back to read more.
    All the best,

  28. Selina Kingson,

    Welcome ! I'm glad you liked my post and hope you'll indeed come back to read more.
    All he best to you too.

  29. Thank you for sharing the Jewish traditions and the meaning behind the traditions
    Today's world can be a tough place. We need compassion for all life on the planet .I would wish that everyone would look inside of its own soul in this sacred day and pray to God, with Love and faith. Only God can give us his blessing (personal, national and universal).

  30. Rahel/Rodica,

    Hi Rodica. Thank you for your beautiful comment. I wish you and your family an easy Fast and Hatima Tova.

  31. DUTA, what a lovely post. No matter what a person believes, taking time out of a life to transcend our immediate, material, and often selfish concerns has tremendous value.

    One of the areas I lived in growing up had a lot of Jewish people, and then my college roommate was also Jewish, so I've been exposed to most Jewish traditions. I'm always impressed by the unwavering quality of religious celebration and observance. No matter how much the world around us changes, faith remains, the practices surrounding faith give people a foundation, a touchstone.

    I'm not sure what I believe but I do think there is tremendous worth is simply spending time, trying to determine how to be our best, most generous self.

    I see the author of the piece stopped by, but what I immediately thought of as sins against ourselves would be excessive drinking, eating, smoking, as well as things like reacting with anger towards those we love. Whenever we are not working to achieve accessing our better selves, we sin against ourselves.

    At least, that's what came to my mind. Thank you again, as always, for your fascinating posts, DUTA. I don't think I've ever told you how glad I was to find your blog. I am very glad, and fortunate to have found your blog. Thank you.

  32. Hi Duta :)
    Just came to wish you a very peaceful and enlightening Yom Kippur!

    Blessings to you, Sweet Lady, Duta :D

  33. Land of shimp,

    What about that? I was so surprised by the author of the Jewish Magazine article appearing on my blog with 2 comments! How did she know I mentioned her name and article in my post?! Anyway, I'm glad and honored she did that and sent me to another article of hers that fully clarified the issue of sins against ourselves.

    Of course, I do agree with what you have to say on this subject. And your language, Shimp, is as usual hypnotizing.

  34. TheChickGeek,

    That's very sweet of you. Blessings to you too!

  35. Hi Duta,
    This was so interesting. I always learn something from your posts and take away many things I can share and think about during the week. I enjoyed the video and I then listened to the Barbra Streisand version as I love her voice so much. I much more enjoyed Barbra, so simple and pure and beautiful.
    Thank you for sharing.

  36. I know nothing of the Jewish faith and little of Christianity. But, what a thought to chew on. Sins towards self... Over indulging? Lack of self love? Too much self love? How curious.
    You are a lovely writer. Thank you for sharing yourself.

  37. You are so blessed to have a tradition which is designed with compassion and love. Following rituals are important.

    I think "sinning against ourselves" could possibly mean not loving ourselves, in that the respect we give others should first be directed inward.

    Have a blessed Yom Kippur.

  38. Alicia,

    Barbara Streissand is the best , but I didn't find a video where she sings live.
    I'm flattered by your saying that you always learn something from my posts. That's a big compliment. Thank You.

  39. Annabelle,

    Welcome! Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment.
    The explanaion to sins towards ourselves is to be found at the author's (Nina Amir) website: Click on Blog and then on Days of Awe.

  40. Angelina,

    The full explanation to sinning against ourselves is to be found on Nina Amir's website:
    Click on 'Blog', then on 'Days of Awe'. It's very interesing to read.

    Thank you for wishing me a blessed Yom Kipur

  41. Emil Kirstein,

    Thank you very much for your blessing and for visiting my blog.

    May God bless you too!

  42. Duta - I love first of all...your name. I love to say it in my head. It is beautiful to me. Something I would've called a family member or dear friend as a child that gave me great love & guidance. DUTA! Does it have a special meaning?

    Secondly, I thank you for following One True Self. Bless you for this.

    I enjoyed reading this post, and plan reading much more.

  43. Welcome to my little blog. I'm glad you like my name. No, it doesn' have a special meaning. That's my name among family and friends.

    It's reciprocal;I enjoyed reading your blog too.

  44. I haven't been on for a while, Duta. I always love your posts - they are so thought-provoking and meaningful. You never disappoint.

  45. Bica,

    Good to hear from you. I hope the wedding of your daughter was a success.
    Thank you for loving my posts. You're always welcomed.

  46. Great information. thanks for following my blog!

  47. You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

  48. Hi Duta, my ex son in law was Jewish but he was not a practicing believer, his parents were though. I must say, I always admired them for their dedication to the Jewish prescripts, but unfortunately before I could learn enough about the faith, the marriage ended (not as a result of religious issues) and we slowly lost contact with them. It is interesting to see how it correlates with my own faith. We believe that all the commandments can be summed up in the new commandment in the new testament, namely, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Therefor I can perfectly identify with three, and not two. types of sin. We must love God, our neighbour, and ourselves.

  49. A human kind of human,

    Thank you for your interesting and detailed comment. I very much agree with your conclusion.