MembersATONEMENT

In the relevant verses concerning the Day of Atonement in Lev. 23, we see a thrice-repeated injunction for the “afflicting of the soul”.

By Dov Chaikin |
ON YOM KIPPUR, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies to make atonement for Israel Photo: Creative Commons

At the same time, though, this day’s fasting – which is what the affliction is understood to mean – was not to be attended by worldly sorrow.

As Paul admonishes in II Cor. 7:10, “the sorrow of the world produces death” – which is precisely what God wanted His people to avoid. There is an affliction of the spirit that takes away the desire for sin; and it was God’s desire that on this day, individuals should find personal cleansing from sin – and the assurance of being accepted by God.

And how was this to be accomplished? For that, we have to turn to Lev. 16, where we are first introduced to the solemnity of this Sabbath of Sabbaths. On that day, as we see in v. 29, the High Priest was expected to make atonement for the people, cleansing them from all their sins. As part of what this entailed – as we read in vv. 5-10 there – he was to take from the congregation two goats, casting lots for them: one lot for the Lord, and the other for...

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