Wednesday, September 26, 2012


JEWISH HOLY DAY STARTED LAST NIGHT - Israel ground almost to a halt Tuesday afternoon in preparation for Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day of the year. The country has completely closed its airspace to airplanes, shut down its buses and trains, and locked its border crossings in preparation the holy day, which begins Tuesday evening and ends Wednesday after sundown. Restaurants, businesses and schools closed, government ministries shuttered, and Israeli television and radio stations went silent. 
Highways and roads emptied of cars - a convention honored even by most secular and non-Jewish Israelis. Yom Kippur is Judaism’s day of atonement, when devout Jews ask God to forgive them for their transgressions. They refrain from eating and drinking and attend intense prayer services in synagogues. The day caps a traditional 10-day period of soul-searching that began with the holiday of Rosh Hashana, the start of the Jewish new year.

Thousands of worshippers shrouded in white shawls, some blowing long curly rams’ horns called shofars, convened Tuesday morning on the holiest site where a Jew can pray, the Western Wall. Many of Israel’s secular Jews fast for the day, but stay at home watching movies and playing board games. In another tradition, secular children ride skateboards and bicycles through the empty streets. At Jerusalem’s outdoor market, many scurried around doing last-minute errands before the country shut down. 
Nearby, ultra-Orthodox Jews swung live chickens over their heads while reciting a blessing, then slaughtered the birds - a symbolic ritual that transfers their sins to the animals. The practice has come under criticism in recent years, and many have replaced it by donating money to charity instead. Many Israelis also reflected on the 1973 Arab-Israel War, which Israelis call the Yom Kippur War because it broke out surprisingly on that day.

Tuesday evening marked the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, which Jews consider to be holiest day of the year. Forgiveness is central to the process of being born again - forgiving ourselves, forgiving others and seeking their forgiveness also. The desire for rebirth is so profound, that Yom Kippur invites people to “play dead,” at least physically, for 25 hours, as they abstain from eating, drinking, caring for their bodies and having marital relations. After observing Yom Kippur, people come together on Wednesday night to for a break-the-fast celebration by which they will affirm life and their new lives - eating, drinking, laughing, and sharing the ancient Jewish toast, L’chaim - to life. There are many similarities between the Jewish and Hindu traditions.

Shalom to acharyas, and revered guests. I shall speak on similarities in our traditions. ... We have lunar calendars in both traditions. The number of years in our calendar is the same. For marriages and other auspicious events, we see different days. Both perform marriages under canopies. Some of the rites are similar.  We also have corresponding festivals. In the Jewish tradition, you have Yom Kippur, and we have Navaratri; we fast and pray and do special prayers at the time. The festivals of Purim and Holi, coming in the springtime, signify triumph of good over evil are in both traditions. When we do a blessing, we use rice as the symbol of fertility. Both, Hindus and Jews, do penance and fasting. In the past, it is said that Jews used to rub ash on the body to purify themselves. We have two important rivers: Jordan and Ganga. Finally, the essence of both traditions is “atmanah pratikulani paresham na samacharet,” do not do unto others what you do not want to have done to you. Om.

HH Mahamandaleswar Sri Swami
Gurusharananandaji Karsni Peeth of Mathura
“Similarities Between Hindu and Jewish Traditions”
First Hindu-Jewish Leadership Summit - New Delhi - 2007

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

No comments: