Atonement, the Day of

Atonement, The Day of

Modern Observance of. In the treatise Hilchoth Tshuvah, c. 1, 2, we read, "At this time, when there is no temple and we have no altar, there is no atonement but repentance. Repentance atones for all sins; yea, though a man be wicked all his days, and repent at last, none of his wickedness is mentioned to him (Eze 33:12). The Day of Atonement itself also atones for them that repent (Le 16:30)." Without considering the contradiction contained in this statement, we will mention the fact that the rabbins, in spite of repentance and the Day of Atonement, have felt the need of something more, which would a little better resemble real sacrificial atonement; and hence has arisen the custom of sacrificing a cock on the eve of that solemn day. The following account of this custom is given in the קהלת שלמה: "Order of the Atonements. On the eve of the Day of Atonement the custom is to make atonements. A cock is taken for a man, and a hen for a woman; and for a pregnant woman a hen and also f cock, on account of the child. The father of the family first makes the atonement for himself-for the high-priest first atoned for himself-then for his family, and afterwards for all Israel." The order is as follows: He takes the cock in his hand and says these words:

"The children of men that sit in darkness and the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron he brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands asunder. Fools, because of their transgession, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat, and they draw near unto the gates of death. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sendeth his word and healeth them, and delivereth them from their destructions. Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness and for his wonderful works to the children of men (Psalm 17)! If there be for him an angel, an intercessor, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness, then he is gracious unto him, and saith Deliver him from going down to the pit; 1 have found a ransom" (Job 30:23). While moving the atonement round his head, he says, "This is my substitute. This is my commutation. This cock goeth to death, but may I be gathered and enter into a long and happy life, and into peace." He then begins again at the words, "The children of men," and so he does three times. Then follow the various alterations that are to be made, when the atonement is for a woman or another person, etc., and there is added "as soon as one has performed the order of the atonement, he should lay his hands on it, as the hands used to be laid on the sacrifices, and immediately after give it to be slaughtered." At the synagogue the usual service commences with the so-called Kol-Nidre (q.v.). The ritual for that day contains a series of confessions of sin to be made, which are frequently repeated. Besides these confessions and other prayers, the historical record of the manner in which the highpriest discharged the duties of his office before the destruction of the second Temple is read and heard. For the four collects which the high-priest offered on that day, SEE POETRY, HEBREW (Post-Biblical), § i. The other parts of this historical record are fully given in the treatise Yoma. When the concluding prayer is finished, the ram's horn is blown as a signal that the duties of the day are over, and the ceremonies of the day close with the words "Next year we shall be in Jerusalem." (B. P.)

"Atonement, The Day of." topical outline.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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