Hebrew Highlights 67 – DAYS OF AWE
Shalom. This is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
Between the Feast of Trumpets, today celebrated as “Rosh HaShana”, or the Jewish New Year, and “Yom Kippur”, or the Day of Atonement, there is a ten day period which in Hebrew we call the “Yamim HaNora’im”, or “Days of Awe”. The salutation we use when saying goodbye to someone during these days is, “Gamar Chatima Tova”, or figuratively, “May you finish with a good signature”.
On the Day of Atonement, the Jewish people believe that one’s name is again written in the book of life, if there is successful repentance and atonement for the sins of the previous year.
Many people in Israel make a concerted effort during these ten days to make amends wherever possible. You often hear of a long spat between neighbors being settled during this time. Financial debts as well as debts of love are frequently paid in full. In fact, in a sort of humorous twist, many Israelis make major purchases or business deals during this time. Why? Well, if a particular salesman is reflecting on deals he made since the last Day of Atonement, and realizes he may have been just a little less than generous with some of his customers, he may try to repent by offering super deals to the buyers dropping by currently.
Actually, the phrase, “the book of life” is used only 8 times in the Bible, 6 of them in the Book of Revelation. It is not however, as some may think, a Christian idea, but appears first in the Book of Psalms. The idea of an accounting of our deeds is Biblical, as we see in REV 20:11-12, And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”
Now of course, as Christians, we believe that when we repent of our sins, they are erased from our account, and that our name is written in the book once and for all when we accept the ultimate Atoning sacrifice, that which God’s Son Yeshua accomplished on the cross, and in His resurrection.
Still though, as long as the church is beginning to readopt Jewish holidays and practices, we might include the Days of Awe. Why not reflect once in a while and see if there might be anyone to whom we need to make amends.
“Gamar Chatima Tova”, from Jerusalem.