Yom Kippur 5773 – Gmar Hatima Tova

Yom Kippur (Maurycy Gottlieb)

Jews praying in the synagogue, by Maurycy Gottlieb
(Wikimedia Commons)

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is upon us once again, beginning in a few hours time here in Israel, when we will be entering a 25-hour fast with day-long prayer services being held in shuls and community centers throughout the Jewish world.  It is a day when we must ask forgiveness from our fellow man if we have wronged them, forgive those who have wronged us if they ask to be forgiven, and pray that Hashem will seal us in the Book of Life.

In Israel, traffic comes to a complete halt throughout the country, even in the most secular towns, and a serene and holy calmness pervades throughout the land.  Even the international airport and public transport close down for the day, starting from a few hours before the fast until an hour or so after the fast ends.

You can read more about Yom Kippur at the Chabad site.

Yom Kippur for the UNSomeone(s) who should be begging Israel for forgiveness is the UN who permitted Iran’s tyrannical president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at its podium. Compounding the sin was the United States, both for giving Ahmadinejad an entry visa and for not walking out during his rant, as they have done in previous years.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, here is a beautiful video, published by the IDF Spokesman’s office, of the Chief Hazan (Cantor) of the IDF singing U’Netaneh Tokef.

The description of the video on YouTube explains that the song is performed by the IDF’s Chief Hazan Lt. Col. Shai Abramson in Tel Aviv’s Great Synagogue on Allenby Street together with IDF soldiers from various units. The background clips are from the Yom Kippur War in 1973, featuring Lt. Gen. Avigdor Kahalani who was a batallion commander in the Armoured Brigade who fought in Emek Habacha (Valley of Tears), and was awarded the medal of valour.

The U’Netaneh Tokef prayer itself is extremely dramatic and is a highlight of the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur prayers. Here is a translation of the words of the complete prayer (not all of which is sung in the video):

We will express the mighty holiness of this day, for it is tremendous and awful; on which Your kingdom is exalted, and Your throne established in grace; where You are seated in truth. It is true that You are the Judge and Arbitrator, knowing all and a witness, who writes and seals and counts and enumerates, and remembers all that is forgotten, and you will open the Book of Remembrance. And it will be read by itself, and the signature of each man is in it.

The great Shofar will be sounded, and a small still sound will be heard. The angels will rush and trembling and fear will take hold of them. And they shall say “Here is the Day of Judgement! The Heavenly Hosts will be visited in judgement” for even they will not be found innocent before You. And all who come to this world will pass before You as a flock of sheep.

As a shepherd counts his flock, passing his sheep under his crook, so You shall pass and count and enumerate and record and visit every living being, and assign the limit [of life] on all Your creatures, and You will write and prescribe their fate.

On Rosh Hashana, the first day of the year, it is written, and on the fast of Yom Kippur it is sealed: how many shall pass, how many will be created. Who will live and who will die; who at the end of his days and who not. Who by water, and who by fire. Who by the sword and who by the wild animal. Who by hunger and who by thirst. Who in an earthquake and who in a plague. Who by strangulation and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will be moving. Who will be tranquil and who will be uneasy. Who will be calm and who will be disturbed. Who will be poor, who will be rich. Who will be cast down and who will be exalted.

But Penitence, Prayer and Charity can avert the evil decree!

In the spirit of the day, I would like to ask forgiveness from anyone whom I might have offended or hurt.

To those who are fasting I wish an easy fast.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my family, friends and readers Gmar Hatima Tova – May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life.

גמר חתימה טובה

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16 Responses to Yom Kippur 5773 – Gmar Hatima Tova

  1. peteca1 says:

    On this day of Yom Kippur I came across these remarks by Rabbi Lapid. BTW, I am not Jewish. But I have been reading Israeli news more often lately. And the thoughts by Rabbi Lapid are both profound – and very relevant to our world today. Thanks Rabbi 🙂


    Pete in USA

    • anneinpt says:

      Hi Pete, I’m glad you’re taking an interest in Israeli news. It’ll make your understanding of the Middle East much deeper. Thanks for the link to the Ynet article. Sorry to disappoint you, but Yair Lapid is not a rabbi at all! In fact if not quite an atheist he does not love organized religion. Yet I found his article very profound too. I don’t agree with everything he wrote in the article, but his general point is correct.

  2. reality says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post & video clip. Thanks to your hubby for the most wonderful chazanut of Mussaf & Neilah & to our brother for a lovely shacharit. I was told by someone who heard his Neila that they too cried. May all our prayers be answered & let us know no more hatred or war but health happiness & success & may Jerusalem be rebuilt. We can now say a gmar tov & pitka tova. We should all be inscribed in the book of life. May all your future posts only be about good things!

  3. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Sorry to interrupt with a secular point (and it’s not long since I arrived back from Shul after neilah), but I suspect that the US government doesn’t have the power to stop Ahmanedinejad entering the country to speak at the UN. It’s probably an agreement the US gave back in 1945/46 when agreeing to host the UN.

    I would agree that this doesn’t excuse them not walking out when he spoke: they can read the transcript later.

    • anneinpt says:

      You might have a point about the US issuing a visa. As the legendary Rabbi said – It’s kosher but it stinks.

      As for walking out, the US did teshuva today and walked out of Ahmadinejad’s speech. (Edit: they boycotted the speech and didn’t attend, rather than walking out). Which raises the question “Why is this speech different from A’jad’s other speech on Monday?”.

      Also, the lousy timing meant that Israel never got a chance to demonstratively walk out on A’jad, since it was Yom Kippur. You can bet that if it was Ramadan the UN would never have scheduled an important speech for that day.

      • peteca1 says:

        don’t worry. nobody in the US is taking Ahmadinjad’s speech seriously. Most people are incredulous that he came here and made it at all.

      • Brian Goldfarb says:

        But, like the US walking out by not attending, we can claim that Israel did the same. How the hell will the others know? Can they really know how religious all the Israeli delegation are? And, anyway, there might be a shul within walking distance of the UN Building! (Probably not, but given that it’s New York, who knows for sure?)

    • cba says:

      This article cheered me up http://www.timesofisrael.com/at-his-warwick-hotel-base-activists-do-their-best-to-ahmadinejad-feel-unwanted/
      (and the icing on the cake was the mention of the Iranian anti-A’jad demonstrators).

  4. Fay says:

    Plus Canada WALKED out! As we have done ever since Harper became PM.

  5. Pete says:

    Anne – hope you move to comment on Bibi’s speech at the UN. That deserves commentary – and feedback. I’d like to hear how you viewed it in Israel, and how other people near you responded. Tx, Pete

    • anneinpt says:

      You’re right Pete. I missed a great blogging day because I had a crazy run around with wedding plans, and was out all day.. I heard Bibi’s speech on the radio on the last leg of my journey (taking my eldest granddaughter back to her town in Samaria) but of course I couldn’t blog while driving! And when I got home last night I was fit for nothing other than flopping in the nearest armchair and falling asleep. I’ll try and blog something soon in a new post.

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