Day of Atonement

Can anyone provide information on the Day of Atonement?

Many thanks,


This is excerpted from Catholic for a Reason III:

The three other feasts, Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), Atonement (Yom Kippur), and Tabernacles (Succoth), were celebrated during Tishri, in the fall. These last three make up the High Holy Days of Judaism. Trumpets signal the start of the civil year, but also the “ten days of awe,” a period of repentance leading up the Feast of Atonement. People who are neither righteous or un-righteous have ten days to reform before their fates are sealed on the Feast of Atonement. On that day, the High Priest offered sacrifices of atonement for sin, for himself and his family, and then for the whole people, entering the holy of holies for the only time during the year to offer incense and to sprinkle the blood of the animal sacrifices on the Mercy Seat. Afterward, he would bless the people, pronouncing the divine name, Yahweh, over them, a name that was reserved for this feast alone, and which was never spoken otherwise.

You’ll see in the New Testament where the Feast of Atonement was fulfilled in the following passage:

Matthew notes that six days before the Transfiguration, which would have been the feast of Atonement, something quite remarkable took place between Jesus and Peter. Recall that the feast of the Atonement was the one occasion when the High Priest was permitted to pronounce the hallowed name of God, Yahweh, which was God’s special revelation of His own identity to Moses on Mount Sinai. Recall that God said to Moses, “I Am who I Am”, and “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I Am has sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:13-14). If “Yahweh” or “I Am” is to be the divine name, it is significant that in Matthew 16:15, when Jesus asks the apostles, “Who do you say that I Am?”, Simon Peter responds, “You are the Christ, the son of the Living God”. Jesus then calls it a direct revelation from God the Father. He says to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (Mt. 16:17-18). This remarkable passage seems to cast Peter, by his disclosure of Jesus’ previously hidden identity, in the role of the High Priest, who alone speaks the revealed name on the Day of Atonement. Jesus even calls Peter by his given name “Simon Bar-Jona,” which was also the name of a famous High Priest of the Maccabean era whose praises are sung in a passage in Sirach 50:1-20.

This is part of a remarkable essay in the Book, Catholic for a Reason III, by Sean Innerst: “Time for Liturgy” basic info regarding practices

Hi all!

Hmm…Karin, you beat me to it. I was going to post that very link. We’ll give you a (kosher, of course) chocolate chip cookie! has links that go into various aspects of Yom Kippur (the various prayers, the scriptural readings, the customs of the day before Yom Kippur, etc.).

One of the main prayers on Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur is the short U’Netaneh Tokef (which has a fascinating history, see The prayer’s full name is U’Netaneh Tokef Kedushat Hayom or “Let Us Tell How Utterly Holy This Day Is”. It is very moving & awe-inspiring (which is most of the point; see the English text at

One section reads:

On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquillity and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted. But REPENTANCE, PRAYER and CHARITY remove the evil of the Decree!

One might say that excerpt above, except for the last line, is an eloquent testimony to a Jewish belief in predestination. Not exactly. What does the last line mean, juxtaposed to what comes before it? Our time on this earth is allotted to us, as is our end. But what we do from now until then is entirely up to us. If we flee from God and disobey Him (speaking of fleeing from, and disobeying, God, we read the Book of Jonah during afternoon prayers on Yom Kippur), if we waste our time on vain and useless things, then the decree (as to how much time we have & what our end will be) will be seen as evil. But if we use our time, however much it is, to cling to God and in good and purposeful things (all of this being summarized in the prayer as “Repentance, Prayer and Charity”), then the decree is not evil, but good and an expression of God’s love for us (which is probably the core principle of Judaism).

This principle was aptly (if somewhat crudely) summed up (believe it or not) in the 1989 film Cousins (with Ted Danson, Isabella Rossellini & Lloyd Bridges, et. al.). In one scene, Lloyd Bridges tells his son (Ted Danson): "You’ve got only one life to live. You can make it chickensht or chicken salad." God gives us the raw material of our lives & it’s up to us decide what to do with it and mold it. Too many people take what God gave them and make chickensht with it.


Be well!

ssv :wave:

Dear NotWorthy and Karin,

Many thanks to you both for providing me with excellent
observations on the Day of Atonement.

God bless you,


[quote=reen12]Dear NotWorthy and Karin,

Many thanks to you both for providing me with excellent
observations on the Day of Atonement.

God bless you,


your very welcome.:smiley:

Hi, stillsmallvoice,

I’ll surely read the links that you provided.

The reason I was reading about the Mourner’s Kaddish,
recently, was because my family has sustained a
great loss [my brother’s 59 year old wife…who was the
soul of mercy and kindness, and my beloved friend,
as well as sister in law.]

There is a prayer that consoled me:
“May the angels come to meet you, and lead you
to Paradise.”

At first, I was very angry at G-d. But, in the end,
I was able to say, with meaning:
G-d gave, and G-d took away. Blessed be the Name
of the L-rd.
She was a gift in our lives for over 30 years.

Every best wish, stillsmallvoice,


Jon Stewart told a joke that went something like this:

“Yom Kippur. The Jewish day of atonement. You don’t eat for one day, and all your sins for an entire year are wiped clean. Compare that with your Lent! Even in sin you’re paying retail! You’ve got to learn to bargain with the man!”


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