A Modern Rabbi’s view of the Day of Atonement – putting the past behind us.

This weekend, Jewish people around the world have been observing Yom Kippur their holiest of days.  R’ Marcia Kovner, who is a Modern Rabbi, and who has a love for the ideas in Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, has written the following thought-provoking observation.

Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Sept. 17, 2010.  It is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.  It is the Day of Atonement.

Atonement is the return to our true essence.[1]   “Atonement is the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love.”  (Science and Health, p.18, line 1)  The process by which we achieve atonement isTeshuva.  Teshuva means return; it is the process of returning to our true essence.

I think it is common for us to feel as if we cannot put the past behind us and continue to wish we could change some things.  “Something in our nature refuses to let go, refuses to reconcile itself with the one-directional flow of time.” [2]  It is our spiritual sense that knows the truth that we can change the past.

It is repentance, teshuva, that allows us to change the past by changing the character of what happened.  By returning to our true essence, we can change the character of past events.[3]

For example, can a relationship with a loved one, now departed, be healed through teshuva ?  I believe it can.

The nature of a relationship with a loved one (or anyone, actually) is love.  Love is the truth of the situation and all else is error because divine Love is all there is.  This is an eternal truth which is not constrained by the illusion of time.   The apparent injuries of the past never had any substance or reality and so cannot be an obstacle to healing.  “The objects of time and sense disappear in the illumination of spiritual understanding, and Mind measures time according to the good that is unfolded.” (Science and Health, p. 584, lines 4-6)

[T]eshuva,  . . . transcends all limitations, including the limitations of time, so that ‘in one moment’ it transforms the whole past, to the degree of absolute perfection in quality and spirituality.” [4]  The gift of the Day of Atonement is that in one seemingly present moment, there is instantaneous healing of the seeming past.


Footnotes all refer to articles presented on chabad.org

1. At-onement, by Tzvi Freeman.

2. How to Change the Past, by Yank Tauber, as presented on chabad.org.

3. Ibid.

4. Is Most of My Life a Waste? A Message of Teshuvah, Translation of a letter from the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.

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Author:Tony Lobl

I write and speak on spirituality from my perspective as a Christian Science practitioner. I am also an Associate Editor for the Christian Science periodicals. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the impact of spirituality on health caught my attention and re-shaped my career.

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4 Comments on “A Modern Rabbi’s view of the Day of Atonement – putting the past behind us.”

  1. Linda Pedersen
    October 14, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    This blog gave me shivvers. I will be reading and rereading it many times. Thank you so much for this fresh and very meaningful perspective.

  2. October 20, 2013 at 1:11 am #

    I have experienced the kind of repentance and atonement you describe here! And it has healed the past as well as the present. I, too, must give SCIENCE AND HEALTH credit for the Truth that did the healing.

  3. Fatimah
    October 22, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Thanks to this fresh perspective on Atonement and for teshuva. It’s provided me with a ‘thought’ map to forgiving that which I have long considered unforgivable. I have been and will continue to reread it!

  4. Sharron
    October 23, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    How important to stay in the “present”, the only place we can truly be and know that God is omni “present” wherever we are.
    Love this thought: “in one seemingly present moment, there is instantaneous healing of the seeming past.” Thanks Rabbi Kovner.

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