by Arlene Berg

YOM  KIPPUR – pronounce the “o” in “Yom” as a long “o,” to rhyme with “toe.”  “Kippur” is pronounced with a short “i,” and the “ur” rhymes with “or.”  The accent is really on the “pur” – “Kip-PUR.”  Many Jewish people say “kippur” as “KIP-pur.”  Dr. Louis Goldberg,  my professor at Bible school said, though, that this “kippur” is not a fish and should be pronounced with the accent on the second syllable!  This statement always stuck with me!


Jewish people the world over will observe Yom Kippur from sundown Friday, September 29, 2017, to sundown Saturday, September 30, 2017.  This is their holiest day of the year.  Most Jewish people who never go to the synagogue throughout the year will definitely go on this most important day!

The background for Yom Kippur is found in Leviticus 16; Leviticus 23:26-33; Numbers 29:7-12.  It is on the 10th day of the Jewish month Tishri – 10 days after the Feast of Trumpets (“Rosh HaShanah” – according to Rabbinic Judaism).

Leviticus 16 details all that is to be done on Yom Kippur.  Three times God says that this Day of Atonement is to be a statute FOREVER unto the house of Israel – vs. 29, 31, and 34.  This everlasting statute was accomplished through a BLOOD SACRIFICE.

How sad it is to watch Jewish people today as they try to atone for their sins without a blood sacrifice!  They will fast from sundown September 29, to sundown September 30 if their health permits, and some will try to fast even if their health does not permit!  Jewish law says, though, that life always supercedes the Law – if one cannot fast because of health problems, he or she should not.  Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah, tried to bring out this principle when he healed the man with a paralyzed hand on the Sabbath!

Jewish people will spend all day in the synagogue reciting hundreds of prayers for forgiveness.  Where is the blood atonement required on Yom Kippur, though?  The prayer book for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur states, “But repentance, prayer and charity cancel the stern decree.”   The Talmud, the foremost Jewish commentary states, though, in Yoma 5a, “There is no atonement but by blood.”  God will not let His people get away from the principle of a blood atonement.  Earlier in the day before Yom Kippur begins, very religious Jewish people will perform a very interesting custom!  It is called “Kapparah” – “atonement”.  A live fowl is swung over one’s head, while the person says the following:  “This is my substitute; this is my commutation; this rooster, or hen, goeth to death; but may I be gathered and enter into a long and happy life and into peace.”   A woman uses a hen, and a man, a rooster.  A fowl is used because of the following.  One of the Hebrew words for man is “gever.”  In Talmudic language, a fowl is also called a “gever.”  Since the punishment for sin is heavier than what a man, “gever,” can bear, there is substituted for him a “gever,” or fowl.  God will not let His people get away from the principle of a substitutionary sacrifice!

At the end of the Day of Atonement, the most earnest prayer is chanted by the Cantor – the “Neilah,” or “The Closing of the Gates” (of heaven).  The shofar (ram’s horn) is then blown, and Jewish people believe that God seals the three books which were opened on Rosh HaShanah in which their names were inscribed.

How our hearts long for God’s chosen people to have their names inscribed and sealed in the Lamb’s Book of Life! (Daniel 12:1; Revelation 13:8; 21:27).  How God wants them to come to the One who, indeed, bore their sins on His shoulder in order to find pardon for their iniquities (Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Daniel 9:26), the One who gave Himself as their atonement once for all (I Timothy 2:5,6; Hebrews 9:11-28; 10:11,12; I John 2:2).

Won’t you pray for the Jewish people on Yom Kippur and during this, their holy season!  Pray that God will work mightily in the hearts of multitudes of them the world over so that they will come to the One who is so vividly described in the following remarkable prayer.  This prayer has been deleted from the Yom Kippur Prayer Book!  “Our righteous anointed (“Messiah”) is departed from us: horror hath seized us, and we have none to justify us.  He hath borne the yoke of our iniquities, and our transgression, and is wounded because of our transgression.  He beareth our sins on his shoulder, that he may find pardon for our iniquities.”

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  –  Yesha’yahu, Isaiah 53:5,6.

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