A Day of Restored Relationships

Yael Eckstein  |  October 4, 2022

People praying in the streets to the Western Wall in Jerusalem during Yom Kippur

“Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.” — Exodus 30:10

Today at sunset, Jews around the world observe the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, with a 25-hour fast, prayer, and reflection. Because this is a non-working holiday, this devotion was prepared in advance for you.

There is a beautiful prayer that many Jews say every night as part of our nightly prayers before going to bed. I say this prayer with my own kids when I put them to sleep.  These are the words:

Master of the Universe, I hereby forgive anyone who has angered or antagonized me or who sinned against me whether against my body, my property, my honor, or against anything of mine; whether he or she did so accidentally, willfully, carelessly, or purposely; whether through speech, deed, or thought; whether in this lifetime or another lifetime I forgive everyone.

May no person be punished because of me.

May it be Your will Lord, my God and the God of my forefathers, that I sin no more. And with Your abundant mercies, may You erase any sins that I have already committed. 

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before You, God, my Rock and Redeemer.

This prayer is especially meaningful as we prepare for the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

A Day of Restored Relationships

The common Jewish practice in the days leading up to Yom Kippur is to seek out anyone we may have wronged to ask forgiveness. We make peace with others as we prepare to make peace with God on Yom Kippur. This practice creates an atmosphere of love and reconciliation throughout our communities. Conflicts are resolved. Friendships are restored.

According to the Jewish sages, God’s forgiveness for our sins depends on our willingness to forgive others. This makes sense. We come before God with regret for the mistakes we have made. We ask God to be understanding of our weaknesses. We ask Him to forgive us.

But how can we ask for God’s forgiveness if we harbor grudges and ill will toward others? How can we ask God to overlook our misdeeds when we don’t do the same for those who may have offended or harmed us? Certainly, this is what Jesus taught his followers in the Christian Bible as well. (See Matthew 6:15; 8:35).

While Yom Kippur is a day of fasting and repentance, it is also a day of restored relationships, between us and our neighbors, as well as with God.

Your Turn:

Are you holding a grudge? Did someone hurt or offend you? This is the time to forgive them. Restoring our relationships brings us closer to God as well.