Our True Spiritual Identity
Yael Eckstein | October 5, 2022
The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to the LORD. — Leviticus 23:27
Today, 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.
The main observance of the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, is fasting. We refrain from eating and drinking, even a drop of water, from just before sunset until nightfall of the following day, approximately 25 hours.
Now you might think that a fast like this would make everyone think about food all day, but the opposite is the case. Honestly, despite the complete lack of food and drink, for me, Yom Kippur is a beautiful experience.
The prayer and worship service on Yom Kippur lasts much of the day. We spend the day in the synagogue, praying, singing, and listening to the inspiring words of the rabbi. It’s a day devoted to the spiritual side of life.
Our True Identity
We read in the Torah, “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to the LORD.” The Bible tells us that fasting is necessary for atonement on this special day.
The simple understanding of this is that just as animal sacrifice in the Temple involved giving up something valuable, we surrender a bit of ourselves by fasting. But there is a deeper meaning to fasting.
If you think about it, we spend most of our lives worrying about our physical needs, don’t we? And the most basic need we have is the need for food and drink. But our physical needs and desires can often get out of control.
As human beings of flesh and blood, we easily place a greater emphasis on our bodies than we do on our souls. And when we are overly focused on our bodies, we can forget our values and priorities.
By fasting on Yom Kippur, we say to God, “Although I am both body and soul, my soul, my spiritual side, is my true identity.” This is the essence of atonement — focusing on our true spiritual identity.
Do you struggle with physical desires? Try denying yourself as a way of showing God who you really are.