Sunday, October 5, 2008

Charity . . .

A beggar in Jerusalem
The critical days from Rosh Hashanah (new year's day) to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) are called The Ten Days of Repentance or The Days of Awe. In traditional Jewish imagery, on Rosh Hashana the hand of God writes your name either in his Book of Life for the year to come or, God forbid, in the other, opposite, Book. On Yom Kippur the book is closed and sealed.
BUT in these intermediary days we still have a chance to be extra good and try to change God's mind. How? The prayerbook makes the astounding statement that
"Teshuva, tfillah, tsedakah--repentance, prayer, and charity/righteous deeds remove the severity of the evil decree."

The chanting of the eight century old prayer Unetaneh Tokef, "Let us express the mighty holiness of this day," is a high point of the Yom Kippur liturgy. Here is a part of it:

. . . "On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed: how many shall pass on, and how many shall be born; who shall live, and who shall die; who in his time, and who before his time; who by fire and who by water; who by sword and who by beast; who by hunger and who by thirst; who by storm and who by plague; who by choking and who by stoning. Who shall rest, and who shall wander; who shall be tranquil and who shall be harassed; who shall be at peace and who shall suffer; who shall become poor, and who shall become rich; who shall fall and who shall rise. But repentance, prayer and charity revoke the evil decree!"

18 comments:

Gwyn said...

Thank you so much for sharing your faith.

Katney said...

I learn so much from you. Your frequent faithfilled posts augment my bible studies.

Webradio said...

It's like in France : Beggar or "sans-abri", c'est triste...
Mais cela existe...

Dina said...

Thanks Gwyn and Katney. I like to try to explain my Jewish faith even though I am not outwardly very observant or "religious."

Webradio, yes, we too have some homeless.

Abraham Lincoln said...

The beggar in the streets gets more respect than the beggar at the front door. My mother used to say we should invite them in and feed them. But that was during the days when every home in American had a door that locked with a skeleton key that you could buy at any dime store. So we invited them in to eat or set it outside for them to eat and drink. And the reason was, mom said, was that it might be Jesus.

Dianne said...

charity, reaching out, touching a life other than your own is a very healing thing to do.

I have often found solace and joy in looking outside my own siuation.

kjpweb said...

I, too like the explanations.
Cheers, Klaus

USelaine said...

Thank you, my teacher.

Kris said...

I’m learning something new every day, and awfully pleased about it too!

Petrea said...

Another good one, Dina.

I read about the archaeologist Avraham Biran today in the New York Times. Did you ever work with him?

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

so many questions to be answered - i would feel bewildered by all this information given to me all at once!

we have plenty of homeless people in greece - they do not look homeless because they are living in some kind of makeshift accommodation, be it a bus stop or a deckchair, but now that winter is approaching, i wonder what will happen to them

Jules said...

Great to catch up with your week. It is always so interesting and educational reading your blog - fascinating!!!

AVT Coach said...

Hi Dina, I have featured your blog site on mine today as one of my "Three Sites To See". I love your site and the photos and information you share.

Reader Wil said...

I hope and pray that the way I live and die is to the honour of God. Your post is beautiful and gives us food for thoughts.

Shimmy Mom said...

With how much repenting I have to do. I think I'd be doing a lot of prayer and charity to try to change His mind. I pray that you are written in His Book of Life.
Wonderful and educational post as always.
*hugs*

Sara N said...

we had asimilar custom few days ago on Eide-e-Fetr
thanks for sharing ;)

SandyCarlson said...

Dina,
Thanks for this lesson. I am glad to know the spiritual significance of these days. You make the beauty and wonder accessible. Again, thanks.

Dina said...

Abe, so interesting. I love learning history from you.

Dianne, nice. I guess we all need charity. In Hebrew it has a wider meaning than in English.

Thank you Klaus, Elaine, Kris. Wow, I'm not used to being in a teacher role...

Petrea, unfortunately I never worked under Biran. He was of the Dor HaNefilim, the generation of giants in the young state of Israel. Who will replace them...?

Kiwi, yeah, it's a tough one. Last winter we had a cold spell and even snow in Jerusalem. The authorities went around to all the "homeless-im" (we don't even have a Hebrew word for this new phenomenon) and offered them temporary shelter in hotels or whatever. Most of them refused. So they got extra warm clothes and blankets instead. Maybe they just like the freedom....

Jules, thanks for taking time from your duties in Papua New Guinea to visit.

AVT Coach, that's really nice of you. Thanks a lot.

Wil, it's my impression that you have nothing to worry about in that respect. God is lucky to have you on his side.

Shimmy Mom, well, in the communal prayers on Yom Kippur all the confession statements are in the plural WE. So everyone can find at least a few in the long list that apply to her.

Sara, really?? Please tell us more about it.

Sandy, oh well said. I like that, about beauty and wonder. So many of us in modern life and in today's religious practice have lost the essential sense of AWE and wonder. Abraham Heschel wrote about that and changed my life, many years ago.