Saturday, October 15, 2011

Reflections on the High Holy Days - Part 3 of 3

Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot is a time of joy and happiness as we eat our meals outside, sing, dance, and reflect on the blessings of being His children.  It is my favorite time of year.

In Leviticus 23:33 - 44, The L-rd commands us to observe this Feast in remembrance of  the wilderness experience of the children of Israel.  Sukkot in Hebrew means "booths".   During this Feast, we reflect on the 40 year journey of the children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land.  Most people think they lived in tents during the journey, but actually, they built shelters of tree trunks and branches, called booths.

Today, it is customary to build a sukkah in the back yard, to decorate it with fruits and vegetables, and then to dwell in it for seven days. We (the Goldens) don't live in it, but we do eat meals there in the evening.   At night, as we look through the leaves and branches above us and observe the moon and stars, we remember G-d's protection of the Israelites and are reminded it is He who provides for and protects us even today.

I'll never forget my first Sukkot, where I attended a re-enactment of the New Testament passage from  John 7. Yeshua was at the Temple in observance of  the Feast of Tabernacles.  On the last day, the kohen (priest) poured water, while praying for G-d to bless the land with rain.  As this ceremony was being performed, Yeshua stepped forward and announced, "If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to me and drink.  Whoever puts his trust in me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his innermost being"  In effect, Yeshua was declaring himself to be the "Living Water".  Imagine the shock of those who heard these words.

How true these words are in the lives of those who know Him.  That blessed spring wells up and flows forth, refreshing the spirit, not only of the believer, but of those who hear and see the effect the Living Water produces in our lives.  Yeshua satisfies our thirst and gives us peace.

Another tradition of the Feast of Tabernacles each year is the waving of the lulav.  The branches of the palm, myrtle and olive are bound together with the citron.  The lulav is then waved to the north, south, east and west as a reminder of G-d's sovereignty over all the earth. He is above, below, and all around us.   He is our source, our provider in all things.  This is a wonderful reminder each year, and especially so in this time of economic uncertainty.   How thankful I am to be His child and for his provision.

This year, we celebrated my birthday along with Sukkot.  It was indeed a joyous day for me as I was blessed to celebrate with my Ma'gen Da'vid Synagogue family.  They showered me with gifts for my garden, and indulged my addiction to anything to do with birds.  I received several bird houses and a beautiful bird bath.  I thought I would share some pictures from our combined celebration this year.

The succah - decorated with palm and pine branches, fruits, vegies, and flowers.

hanging the decorations

listening to Rabbi - isn't the sunset beautiful?

some of Ma'gen Da'vid congregation in front of the succah

celebrating my birthday

Cody waving the lulav.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Yom Kippur 5772

Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) will  begin this evening at sundown.  This High Holy Day is a time of reflection, repentance, and rejoicing in the grace of G-d.   I hope you will read my post from last year about Yom Kippur  to understand this holy day better. 

The end of the Ten Days of Awe will be sealed with our Yom Kippur service.  During that service, we will listen to the  Avinu Malkeinu and The Kol Neidre.

I want to share these songs with you, and after you listen to them, I will share some thoughts as we go into this holy day.

Avinu Malkeinu  is a song/prayer asking G-d's blessings on the year ahead.  The tone is somber because we have come to the service with awareness of our sins. 

The Kol Neidre is even more somber, and is about sorrow for our sins, and the forgiveness of G-d.  The tone of the song is sad, because we have sinned, and we have grieved our Father.  The Moroccan version of the song is so beautiful.  I could not get Blogger to upload the video, but you can listen to it at the following link: (The images in this video are of Moroccan Jews.  Our Torah scroll is over 350 years ago, and came from Morocco, so this version of the song is very dear to us.)   Kol Nidrei 

Recently, I heard a very well-known and highly respected Christian minister on the radio say that G-d's grace was not revealed until the New Testament.  This minister obviously has never read the Torah.    Father G-d's grace is revealed throughout the Torah as well as the Haftorah.  His provision for the remission of sins reveals His abundant grace and forgiveness.  The price of sin is high:  blood.  As one reads the Torah, especially in Leviticus, the account of how much blood had to be shed is overwhelming. 

Each year, as we read through the Torah, I am filled once again with awe about sin, and about the blood required to atone for it.  Therefore, as we finish up the Torah readings for the year around the High Holy Days, I am also in awe of the love and forgiveness of Father G-d.  Yom Kippur is a time to think about that grace.  To think about my sins.  To not take them lightly because they carry a high price:  the blood of Yeshua.  May I never take His atonement lightly or for granted.  May I always be in awe of His grace and of His atonement through Yeshua's blood.

Both the Old and New Testaments declare that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.  In the Old Testament the blood of animals atoned for sins.  When the Messiah died and shed his blood, He put in place an atonement that covered our sins forever.   May His Name be praised forevermore!  Halelujah!

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