Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Parshat Acharei, 3rd Portion, Leviticus 16:25-34, April 19, 2016

“And he shall effect atonement upon the Holy of Holies, and he shall effect atonement upon the Tent of Meeting and upon the altar, and he shall effect atonement upon the kohanim and upon all the people of the congregation. [All] this shall be as an eternal statute for you, to effect atonement upon the children of Israel, for all their sins, once each year. And he did as the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Leviticus 16:33-34)
I wrote earlier today a sequel to yesterday’s post: Involuntary Transgressions: Lifting up the Chair.

What interests me in the above Torah passage is the idea of atonement, and that the act should be a statute.

Atonement is Christianity appears to be about reconciling with Christ. I’m sure my Christian friends will correct me if I’m wrong.

In Judaism it seems that it is also about reconciling, but this time with God. I do not think that it is a process of God forgiving, but rather that the harm we do keeps us from experiencing the good, in the same way that hate keeps us from love.

We need to take a shower of the crud that we accumulate. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest of holidays. Perhaps it is because it is the point where we become “throughly scrubbed of our transgressions” from the last year, so that we can love more purely.

Statute vs. statue: Is it a coincidence that the words are so similar. The idea of a ceremony becoming a statue is interesting too. Especially in a religion that speaks against graven images. I like the idea of a statute/statue not being a physical object, but being a procedure and an ideal. The ultimate goal is reconciliation. I suspect, because we are humans, we are not reconciled for long. The crud quickly comes back, ready for another shower. Buddhists believe that the world reconstitutes itself moment by moment. Each moment is a new moment. It is constant work to even attempt to be reconciled, be it with God, a family member or friend.

P.S. A friend sent this quote:
“Each activity you perform is an opportunity to observe the ways mind and body can work together and how they can sometimes conflict. The mind can spend hours worrying about a simple task that will take the body only minutes to perform. Although the music may be long, the dance itself is short.” —Gary Thorp, “The Dust Beyond the Cushion”
Perhaps one can see atonement as not unifying us with God, but rather bringing our body and mind together. And bringing our intentions and actions together.

P.S.S. Driving home, I thought atonement not being about shame or guilt. Guilt, for me, has to do with low self-esteem, and shame is about how we think others see us. What separates and quiets us is simply moving the crud away. Then we can reunite, not only with ourselves, but with others as well.

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