Is it a sin or a crime?

6 Tishrei 5777

The Creator has given each of us “bechira chofshi” free will. This means that we are responsible for our own actions. Today however in this world, we have eliminated the idea of “sin” and replaced it with the notion of “crime”. This causes our society to be secular, devoid of the Creator who no longer has a place within it. Instead we speak of human rights — the right to life, to gather possessions and to self-determination. Our laws are made in order to respect human rights. For example, the Torah states “you shall not kill’. Human rights place this in the category of a crime against another human being whereas the Torah would regard it as a sin, a transgression directly against the Creator. It is not a human rights’ issue. The Creator is the giver of life; He has breathed His Ruach, His breath into each of us placing us His Divine spark within us. This is not evolution or the quantum leap in which inorganic materials suddenly became organic and life began.  We have life because we have been made in His image and this is why life is sacred. Taking someone’s life is a direct assault against the Creator.

Yom Kippur is the time to afflict our souls. An even better translation would be that we need to make our soul poor. Our Rabbi Yeshua gave his sermon on the mount and began with blessed or happy are those who are poor in spirit for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.  There is an understanding that Yeshua delivered this message during the High Holidays just before Yom Kippur. He was most probably referring to Leviticus 23:27c where the same expression is used but translated as to fast. The word that is used is “ahnitem” ענתם to make poor, to impoverish. Afflict our soul has been translated as we need to fast but our prophet Isaiah in chapter 58 cries out to the people in the Name of the Creator… Why are you fasting? Your fasts mean nothing to Me. It doesn’t get us in the Book of Life. Instead we need to reckon with ourselves, to face our Creator, to be honest to Him and humble ourselves before Him making no excuses for our behavior.  Recognition and acceptance of what we have done is the first step on the way back to Him. Then we confess, acknowledge and finally make reparation.  How many things have we done that we can never repair but the good news is that He can repair anything when we go to Him. That is true teshuva. We afflict our soul means that we need to search deep within to examine the darkness of our souls and bring what we find to Him. Only He can cleanse that — no animal sacrifice, no human sacrifice. It is between Him and us.  We can’t run away from our Creator.

Yeshua said “blessed are those who are poor in spirit for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven”. A better translation would be “happy are those who humble themselves before God and acknowledge who they are for they will be in His Presence.”  Do you want to be in His Presence, written in the Book of Life? Don’t run away from your responsibilities, from your sins; face them and bring them to the Creator. It is my desire that during these days before Yom Kippur that we come before Him remembering that it is not about fasting but about our relationship with Him. I pray that we all follow the Creator and not man; that we all understand that we have faults and accept responsibility for our actions, not blaming someone else for what we have done. Today crime is always justified by man looking for excuses. With abortion, the woman has the right over her own body; with sexual aberrations, people have the right to do what they want with their own bodies. They do have that right but they do not have the right to impose it upon everyone else. Life is sacred and yes they can do whatever they want but we have the right to say that we are sorry but we do not accept their behavior. Respect is a two-way street. We have a great Judge who will examine all our hearts. My prayer is that we will be ready for this Yom Kippur, that we open our souls to Him and that we make things right. May our names be sealed in the Book of Life!