Yom Kippur and Community Life
By Youval Yanay
“When I said to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you did not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.” – Ezekiel 3:18-19
Why do we choose to live in community? Living closely with one another, and encountering each other daily, inevitably leads to friction. By living in community, we intimately get to know our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We commit to living in the light, receiving genuine feedback about ourselves without fear of harming our relationships. We urge those close to us to be truthful about our behaviors, unafraid of defensive or aggressive responses, and without the fear that learning the truth about ourselves might create distance. This is the bond that thrives in truth, without facades, in love, and the blood of Yeshua purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
Ezekiel’s verses highlight the essence of God’s kingdom: Our responsibility extends to the lives of our brethren. Often, we perceive them more clearly than they perceive themselves. Out of love, we notice behaviors that are not in alignment with God’s will. Living in a community exposes these behaviors, shining a divine light upon them. The closer the living, the more apparent everyone’s flaws become, leaving no place to hide.
When faced with these truths, our duty is to convey them with love (Ephesians 4:15). Though challenging and sometimes painful, it is our responsibility to inform our brother or sister of their actions. We cannot absolve ourselves by thinking, “It’s not my concern if my brother sins; that’s his problem!” Both of us share the responsibility if one strays. Guiding them back, and helping them seek Yeshua’s forgiveness and grace, is not just a duty—it’s a mandate.
Yeshua said in Matthew 18:15-18, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
These words from Yeshua instruct us on addressing sins within our community. It’s our duty to approach our erring brothers with love. While the natural response might be to distance ourselves from the one who caused pain, God’s kingdom requires the opposite. The scriptures encourage us to reflect on the hurtful incidents, using its teachings as a guide. When we collectively follow the teachings of the scriptures—emphasizing forgiveness, love, self-sacrifice, humility—the pain transforms into a stronger bond.
“The Lord said to Moses, 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. Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God. Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people.” – Leviticus 23:26-29
Leviticus highlights the significance of Yom Kippur, a time for introspection. As we examine our actions in the light of God’s word, we endure the torment of confronting our own shortcomings. On this day, we unveil what we’ve concealed throughout the year, knowing that God sees all. As we confront our own shadows, we find solace in the cleansing power of Yeshua’ sacrifice. On Yom Kippur, it’s not just personal redemption but also our collective responsibility for our community. If hurt or resentment lingers due to another’s actions, addressing it in love remains our duty.
On this Yom Kippur, let us all stand in the light of God’s Word. Let’s examine ourselves, allowing the loving light of the Messiah to illuminate the secrets of our hearts. Let us uncover everything unworthy of honor, hidden deep within, and approach Him with humility and reverence. In doing so, we seek grace and mercy, striving to stand pure and blameless before Him. United by His love, the blood of Yeshua the Messiah, Jesus Christ, His holy and beloved son, cleanses us from all sin.