Mike the Mad Biologist

Saturday Sermon: The Yom Kippur Edition

If you’re Jewish, you’ll probably be reading this in a few hours, depending on your time zone. What really bugs me about the theopolitical right is their selective choosing of which parts of the Bible they will take ‘literally’ and which parts they ignore. They typically ignore this bit by my landsman Izzy, which is read every year on Yom Kippur:

To be sure, they seek Me daily,
Eager to learn My ways.
Like a nation that does what is right,
That has not abandoned the laws of its God,
They ask Me for the right path,
They are eager for the nearness of God:

:Why, when we fasted, did You not see?
When we starved our bodies, did You pay no heed?”
Because on your fast day, you see to your business and oppress all your workers.
Because you fast in strife and contention,
And you strike with a wicked fist.
Your fasting today is not such as to make your voice heard on high.

Is this the fast I desire,
A day for men to starve their bodies?
Is it bowing the head like a bulrush and lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call that a fast, a day when the Lord is favorable?

No, this is the fast I desire:
To unlock the fetters of wickedness,
And untie the cords of lawlessness,
To let the oppressed go free;
To break off every yoke.

It is to share your bread with the hungry,
And to take the wretched poor into your home;
When you see the naked, to clothe him,
And not to ignore your own kin.

It’s easy to observe ritual (well, ok, sometimes, it’s a pain in the ass), but practicing basic human decency on a daily basis is much harder.

Comments

  1. #1 NewEnglandBob
    September 18, 2010

    I solved the dilemma of which parts to ignore. Now I ignore all of the bible in every form. The fasting part I do now and then. I use it with exercise to lose weight.

  2. #2 Shana
    September 19, 2010

    Thank you for sharing. I agree, basic human decency on a daily basis is the harder challenge, and what I wish we would all strive for, regardless of religion. (One can wish, right?)

  3. #3 Dan
    September 19, 2010

    How about this from Leviticus, which we read every afternoon of Yom Kippur:

    When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not taunt him.

    The stranger who sojourns with you shall be as a native from among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God.

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