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About Rabbinic Yom Kippur

In Nazarene Israel and in other studies we show how the rabbinical order is a corruption of the Levitical order. We also show how Yeshua came to overthrow the corrupted rabbinical order, and to replace it with a renewed order of Melchizedek.

In Nazarene Israel we show that Yeshua was against the rabbinical order, and that He warned us to “take heed and beware” of the leavened (erroneous) doctrines of the Pharisees (Orthodox rabbis) and the Sadducees (Karaites)—yet today His words are routinely ignored, and many otherwise good brothers and sisters are influenced by these leavened doctrines.

Mattityahu (Matthew) 16:6
6 Then Yeshua said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

Curiously, despite Yeshua’s many warnings, even in the first century there were believers who were influenced by the doctrines of the Pharisees. (For details see “Acts 15 and Rabbinic Authority,” in Nazarene Israel.) It is important to beware of these doctrines, so that we can practice the faith once delivered to the saints, and not some other hybrid (syncretic) faith.

Sometimes we Ephraimites are painfully aware that we were lost in the nations for 2,730 years, and that we had no idea what the Torah even was. We also know that Judah was used to maintain our inheritance in the Torah and the Hebrew language. Because of this, it can be easy to want to “sit at the feet” of the rabbis and the Karaites, and learn all we can from them. Yet if we do this, we do the very thing that Yeshua warned us about, which was to “take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

But someone will ask, “What are the practical risks of taking our doctrines from the Orthodox rabbis and the Karaites?” One of the most obvious things is that their worship styles are different from what Scripture teaches, and this means we end up practicing some faith other than the faith Yeshua taught. For example, let us take a look at the Rabbinic version of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement[s]).

Yom Kippur is the most set-apart day of the year, and if we are going to be married to Yahweh’s Son, then we need to do things the way He wants. The commandment on Yom Kippur is to afflict our souls (beings) by doing no work at all. We are afflicted in that we do not get to work to make money, or to buy or sell. Rather, we are to spend the day in prayer with Him, and with brethren.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 16:29-31
29 “This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you.
30 For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before Yahweh.
31 It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever.”

Some confusion comes in because of the Hebrew word for afflict. In Hebrew the word for afflict is anah (עָנָה). Strong’s Hebrew Concordance tells us that this word means to look down, to depress, or to browbeat.

OT:6031; a primitive root [possibly rather ident. with OT:6030 through the idea of looking down or browbeating]; to depress literally or figuratively, transitive or intransitive (in various applications, as follows):
KJV – abase self, afflict (-ion, self), answer [by mistake for OT:6030], chasten self, deal hardly with, defile, exercise, force, gentleness, humble (self), hurt, ravish, sing [by mistake for OT:6030], speak [by mistake for OT:6030], submitself, weaken, in any wise.

It is easy to misinterpret this as saying we should feel bad about ourselves on Yom Kippur, and that we should be depressed, and beat ourselves down, and browbeat ourselves. And indeed, some Orthodox and Messianic circles teach just exactly that. They teach that if we will suffer and afflict ourselves in this manner for a day, then we can do what we want the rest of the year, including oppressing our workers, and setting up a New World Order, etc. But we know that this interpretation is wrong, because Isaiah says clearly that this is not how Yahweh wants us to fast.

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 58:1-5
1 “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek Me daily, And delight to know My ways, As a nation that did righteousness, And did not forsake the ordinance of their Elohim. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching Elohim.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ “In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, To make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to Yahweh?”

When I was first called to repentance, I made a shirt for myself of sackcloth, and on Yom Kippur I put it under my clothing (next to my skin). And on Yom Kippur I wore this sackcloth to make sure I would be afflicted, as the rabbis say. But then later, when I re-read Isaiah 58, I realized that the rabbinic formula of “being miserable for a day” is not really what Yahweh wants. Rather, what He wants is that we humble ourselves, and turn away from any thoughts of doing our own will. Instead He wants us to focus on doing good to the poor and the needy, and helping to establish the kind of kingdom on earth that His Son wants us to rule and reign over for Him, during the millennium.

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 58:6-14
6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of Yahweh shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and Yahweh will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 Yahweh will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My set-apart day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The set-apart day of Yahweh honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in Yahweh; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of Yahweh has spoken.”

Now consider that the Hebrew word for afflict we saw before (עָנָה) is the same as the Hebrew word for taking heed, and paying attention (עָנָה). They have the exact same letters and vowels (and are often confused).

OT:6030 `anah (aw-naw’); a primitive root; properly, to eye or (generally) to heed, i.e. pay attention; by implication, to respond; by extens. to begin to speak; specifically to sing, shout, testify, announce:
KJV – give account, afflict [by mistake for OT:6031], (cause to, give) answer, bring low [by mistake for OT:6031], cry, hear, Leannoth, lift up, say, scholar, (give a) shout, sing (together by course), speak, testify, utter, (bear) witness. See also OT:1042, OT:1043.

Yahweh uses lots of plays on words in Scripture. So, is it possible that the rabbis assumed the first meaning, while Yahweh’s true meaning is the second? Because if we truly take heed of Yahweh, and pay attention to what He wants us to do for His Son, won’t we sing and shout, testify, announce, and bear witness to His Son’s kingdom with joy and gladness? (Consider that Isaiah 58 speaks against the one interpretation, but not the other.)

Also, Yeshua tells us that when we fast, we should not be “like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear to men to be fasting.” Rather, He tells us that when we fast, we should anoint our heads, and wash our faces, so that we do not appear to men to be fasting. And that way, Yahweh who sees our secret fasting will reward us openly. Does this not also apply to Yom Kippur?

Mattityahu (Matthew) 6:16-18
16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

For another witness, in Zechariah 8:18-19, Yahweh tells us that the fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will be times of joy and gladness, and cheerful festivities. (Yom Kippur is the fast of the seventh month.)

Zechariah 8:18-19
18 Then the word of Yahweh of hosts came to me, saying,
19 “Thus says Yahweh of hosts: ‘The fast of the fourth month, The fast of the fifth, The fast of the seventh, And the fast of the tenth, Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts For the house of Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.'”

So, which seems more scriptural? To do as the rabbis say, and bow down our heads like a bulrush, and to put on sackcloth, and cover ourselves with ashes so we can feel good about doing whatever we want the other 364 days a year? Or to wash our faces, and anoint our heads with oil, and to rejoice at our election, and sing songs of worship to Yahweh, giving thanks and praise because He has chosen us to work together, to establish His Son’s kingdom here on earth?

Also, if we do not rejoice in Yom Kippur, then how can we obey 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which tells us that we are to rejoice always, and give thanks in everything?

Thessaloniquim Aleph (1 Thessalonians) 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of Elohim in Messiah Yeshua for you.

Only, how can we rejoice “always” if we do not rejoice in Yom Kippur?

Another thing the rabbis teach is that if we will perform Yom Kippur just as they say, that Yahweh will write our names into the Book of Life (and thus we will be saved, because we obeyed rabbinic authority). That is why the Pharisees (Orthodox) wish each other a “good signing” at Yom Kippur. But this concept is not found anywhere in Scripture.

In contrast, what we believe is not that we will be written into the Book of Life (and thus saved) because we obeyed rabbinic authority. Rather, we believe that we are already saved, because we have been chosen to believe on Yeshua, and keep His commandments. We believe we are already written into the Book of Life (and that is why we rejoice).

There are many more differences between the things that the rabbis and the Karaites teach, and what Yeshua taught. And if we are wise, we will take care to avoid the leaven of the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees, because they conflict with the doctrine of Yeshua.

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