Monday, October 20, 2008

Holy Days

Humor me and read this summary of the Jewish Holydays which are today and tomorrow (October 20 and 21 this year): this came in an email today: [explanatory comments in brackets are mine]

"Shemini Atzeret & Simchat Torah in a Nutshell

Immediately following the seven-day festival of Sukkot [Feast of Tabernacles, above] comes the two-day festival of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.

Shemini Atzeret means "the eighth [day] of retention"; the chassidic masters explain that the primary purpose of the festival is to retain and "conceive" the spiritual revelations and powers that we are granted during the festivals of the month of Tishrei [that means the High Holy Days, including Yom Kippur: for Mormons it would include Oct General Conf], so that we could subsequently apply them to our lives throughout the year.

The second day of Shemini Atzeret is called Simchat Torah (Rejoicing of the Torah") [or JOY in the Scriptures]. On this day we conclude, and begin anew, the annual Torah reading cycle. The event is marked with great rejoicing, especially during the procession, in which we march, sing and dance with the Torah scrolls around the reading table in the synagogue.

"On Simchat Torah," goes the chassidic saying, "we rejoice in the Torah, and the Torah rejoices in us; the Torah, too, wants to dance, so we become "the Torah's dancing feet."

Other festival observances include the special prayer for rain included in the musaf prayer of Shemini Atzeret, and the custom that all are called up to the Torah on Simchat Torah."

So, today I received another email from LeGrand Baker, a friend of Steve, Miriam, and Mike, and it included this comment about JOY and ATONEMENT, the themes of these Jewish Holydays:

"David Ries : Thoughts on the Atonement

Today I had a remarkable spiritual experience as I got ready for church.
I was thinking about the Primary song "If the Savior Stood Beside Me." I'm learning it to accompany the Primary program next Sunday. So I knew the music before I knew the lyrics. I was learning the lyrics. The 3rd verse says:
"He is always near me, though I do not see Him there
And because He loves me dearly, I am in His watchful care…"
I loved the line "He loves me dearly."

I was thinking about the Atonement. How His gift to us was the greatest gift, and how He took upon himself all our sin and pain and loneliness and inadequacies. To know all those things is ultimately intimate. No one in this life could know us so well, because they could not know all the pain of our lives as He did. Hence, no one on this earth could love us so well. He truly must "love us dearly," both because of how He knows us, and what He did for us.
I thought of His ultimate pain in taking all that upon Him. And then I thought, how nice it would be if, as recompense for that, He could experience all our joys and happiness, all our accomplishments and rewards. So I said a simple prayer and asked Heavenly Father to bless His Son, that He would know all our joys and accomplishments and loves.

Suddenly, I felt the Spirit very strongly. I felt an acknowledgment of that prayer. I felt as though this is the greatest wish I could have for the Savior, that He could know all the positives, as well as all the negatives. I felt blessed that I had wished that for my Redeemer. I felt these words in my heart: "Blessed art thou, for thou hast wished the greatest gift for My Beloved Son."

And then I felt that it was so. That our Redeemer, in addition to knowing all our pain, was also given to know all our joys. And that that is his great reward for performing that ultimate act. He is privileged to know all our joys and all our loves. That is the reward.
And of course, He knows us all the more, and loves us all the more, for knowing the good and the evil. As part of this experience, I felt His love. His dear love. I felt it strongly and warmly and richly.
There can be no greater witness of His existence, and His atonement, than to feel His Love."

I sent this response: "I think Christ's joy in us is doctrinal, or at least scriptural.
"This is my work and my GLORY"

"Blessed are you because of your faith; and now behold, MY JOY is full. and when he said these things, he wept. . . " 3 Nephi 17: 20-21

"How great is his joy in the soul that repenteth . . . And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me! D&C18:13, 15-16

23 And now, my brethren, I desire that ye shall plant this word in your hearts, and as it beginneth to swell even so nourish it by your faith. And behold, it will become a tree, springing up in you unto everlasting life. And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son. Alma 33:32"

Then, after a bike ride with Randy, I went upstairs to prepare my Institute lesson for tomorrow based on Ch 5 of Talmage's "Jesus the Christ." Wanting to look up a scripture reference, I realized my bible was still downstairs, so I picked up a NEW bible I bought just last week [see photo above]. I really just wanted the beautiful brown leather journal [right] that was sold as a set with the bible and since together they were only $6, it was worth it. So I opened the new soft red leather bible [left] and soon realized it was a new translation I had never read before: the Holman Christian Standard Bible. And I really like it.

I was reading about Ezra in Nehemiah 8-9 where he reads the scriptures aloud to the people returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian Captivity. Then the next verses/chapter tell how they celebrated Rosh Ha Shanah (this day is holy to the LORD v. 1-12), Feast of Tabernacles (v 13-18 : and there was tremendous JOY), and Yom Kippur (confession and worship) as they read from the book of the law. I enjoyed the translation so much I decided to re-read the whole OT this year : then the next verse was: 9:38 'in view of this we are making a binding agreement in writing on a sealed document. . . ."

I did not do any of this consciously on purpose because of the Holy Days. But still, there it is.
The LORD is good to me and so I thank the LORD for giving me the things I need...
Love Mom/R

Post Script: this psalm of David is sung every day during these High Holy Days. I think it is an excellent choice.

This is a Jewish translation: G-d is used in place of the sacred name of God.

Tehilim (Psalms)- Chapter 27
1. Of David. G-d is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? G-d is the stronghold of my life; from whom shall I be frightened?
2. When evildoers draw near to me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies against me -- they stumbled and fell.
3. If a camp encamps against me, my heart shall not fear; if a war should rise up against me, in this I trust.
4. One [thing] I ask of G-d, that I seek: that I may dwell in the house of G-d all the days of my life, to see the pleasantness of G-d and to visit His Temple every morning.
5. That He will hide me in His tabernacle on the day of calamity; He will conceal me in the secrecy of His tent; He will lift me up on a rock.
6. And now, my head will be raised over my enemies around me, and I will sacrifice in His tent sacrifices with joyous song; I will sing and chant praise to G-d.
7. Hearken, O G-d, to my voice [which] I call out, and be gracious to me and answer me.

8. On Your behalf, my heart says, "Seek My presence." Your presence, O G-d, I will seek.

9. Do not hide Your presence from me; do not turn Your servant away with anger. You were my help; do not forsake me and do not abandon me, O G-d of my salvation.

10. For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but G-d gathers me in.

11. Instruct me, O G-d, in Your way, and lead me in the straight path because of those who lie in wait for me.

12. Do not deliver me to the desires of my adversaries, for false witnesses and speakers of evil have risen against me.

13. Had I not believed in seeing G-d's goodness in the land of the living!14. Hope for G-d, be strong and He will give your heart courage, and hope for G-d.

Translation adapted from the Judaica Press edition of the Tanach by Rabbi A.J. Rosenberg


Rebecca Stay said...

Mike emailed this to me:

I'm glad you got that from LeGrand--I thought it was the best message
I've received in a while from that mailing list.

Rebecca Stay said...

Karen emailed this comment:

that was really neat Mom! Thanks for sharing. In one of the Conference talks, they talked about how we should pray occasionally with just gratitude. I like to think of doing that as sharing our joy with the Savior.

Marci said...

I really enjoyed this post and I especially LOVED the PICTURES! Where did you get all of the pictures from?

I thought it was interesting that in conference there was such an emphasis on how this life is meant to be a life filled with joy; and we are told over and over that we receive joy when we serve other people. I'm sure Christ does receive joy from seeing us happy. On another note, Rob and I just attended our first Jewish wedding this past week and it was the most exciting wedding I've ever been too. I'll post something about it on my blog for you to read. Thanks again for sharing!

Rebecca Stay said...

Heather emailed me:

I've often thought and felt that part of the atonement was Christ experiencing all the good in our lives as well as the hard and bad. I feel He would have to in order to help Heavenly Father judge us perfectly. I've wanted to say something along those lines a few times in lessons I've taught, but I'm never quite sure where it says that in the scriptures. Maybe it's something more implicit that we get to discover for ourselves as we come to know the Savior.

Rebecca Stay said...

I found most thru Google images or Jewish educational websites. Some are from He is a marvelous LDS artist. Gethsemane is by James Christensen - the guy who does fantasy fish and fairies.

Remember to invite me to read your blog!

Emily said...

hello hello, I just found your blog off Susan's and am excited for all the new knowledge. p.s. I meant to call you about institute today but by the time I got some time it was too late so look for my call tomorow :)

Misty said...

I was so happy to have taken your Institute class last winter. I just re-read "The Gift of Asher Lev" and loved being able to recognize our discussions of Simchat Torah and Shavuot.