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The Book of Jonah

The Book of Jonah

When my life was ebbing away, I called Hashem to mind;And my prayer came before You, into Your holy Temple    Jonah 2:8 (The Israel Bible™)

The Book of Jonah is read aloud in synagogues today on Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement). This story is particularly is fitting for Yom Kippur in that it teaches that no one is out of God's reach. Just as Jonah was unsuccessful in his attempt to flee from God, so too is the rest of humanity unable to hide from divine judgement.

In the above verse, although Jonah is trapped in the belly of a large fish, he does not despair. He hopes that not only will he survive the ordeal, but that he will once again be worthy of standing before God in the Holy Temple. Though man may stumble in sin, he can always pick himself up and recover. Even after our biggest failures, God lovingly awaits our return, if only we have the will to do so.

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A Time For Repentance

At the turn of the year, the season when kings go out to battle, Yoav led out the army force and devastated the land of Ammon, and then besieged Rabbah, while David remained in Yerushalayim; Yoav reduced Rabbah and left it in ruins
I Chronicles 20:1 (The Israel Bible™)

In the above verse, the beginning of the year is called teshuvat hashanah which literally means 'the turn of the year.' The Hebrew year is cyclical in nature, and the holidays are repeated at the same time each year. In a certain sense, the beginning of a new year is in fact a return to the same period in previous years. Furthermore, the Jewish New Year focuses on God's judgement and man's repentance.

The word teshuva, which means 'return', also means 'repentance'. Hence, the expression teshuvat hashanah also refers to the time of year when we are obliged to repent. As we find ourselves in the "ten days of repentance", between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (Day of Judgement), this is the time of year where the Children of Israel focus on repentance and returning to Hashem (God).

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A Land Flowing With Milk And Honey

He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey    Deuteronomy 26:9 (The Israel Bible™)

In the Bible, Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) is described as flowing with milk and honey. In a literal sense, this refers to goat's milk and date honey. On a metaphorical level, milk is a nutritional necessity, whereas honey is a savory delicacy. Hashem (God) promises that the Land of Israel will not only sustain His nation with the basic essentials for survival, but He will bless the land with sweetness and prosperity.

 

 

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