> The Hull Reform Synagogue - Ne've Shalom
The Hull Reform Synagogue - Ne've Shalom



The following article by Geoff Annis is based upon the sermon he gave on Yom Kippur which explored sinning.

"It's a Sin To Tell A Lie" says the classic old song, which, with different words, finds its way into our Yom Kippur liturgy. Just one of a long list of offences for which we seek atonement. But, do we really feel guilty of this intimidating catalogue as we pray, or cherry pick the ones that we think apply and ignore the rest? And what purpose does Yom Kippur serve if we don't improve ourselves annually?

Nevertheless, the High Holydays attract the biggest Shul attendance of the year, either because we need to confess, or feel obliged to attend because of tradition-a perfectly valid reason I believe. Just turning up is a virtue in itself.

The collective "We" is an issue however. If I over-drink or over-eat (see Minchah page 569) as I did recently, why should the whole congregation confess on my behalf?

In Bible times the Jews had it made, The High Priest was the only one at Yom Kippur allowed into the inner sanctum of the Temple, and through a ritual like sprinkling animal blood onto the Ark of the Covenant could atone for the sins of all the people of Israel. All done for us. No problem! Today, we recognise the division of sins into VENIAL (mini-sins; not too serious-like swearing) and MORTAL (big sins like murder). But, we aren't always honest about admitting our personal behavioural responsibilities.

The Ten Commandments are a great idea and the most important Jewish moral legacy to the world, because they make us individually accountable. There's a tale of how God gave the Jews the Commandments. First he asked the Egyptians if they wanted a Commandment. "Like 'Thou shalt not commit adultery'" said God. "No way" they replied. "It would ruin our weekends. Next God approached the Assyrians if they wanted a Commandment "Well...like 'Thou shalt not steal'." They promptly replied " No way. It would ruin our economy." Finally God asked the Jews. "How much ?" they asked. "They're free," said God. "Great - we'll take ten!" That's why we're so God fearing?!

The Neilah selichot say that, ideally, Yom Kippur is the beginning of a journey from inside ourselves, outwards to the needs of others and the wider community:

"The great work waits for us at every moment and calls to us... The starving need our food, the uncared for need our love, the rejected need our understanding. We need Your light so that we do not fail them nor leave them in darkness."

This perhaps is the true message of Yom Kippur and in a perfect world the fundamental aim of all religions. But we and our world aren't perfect and there's a long journey ahead. May God give us strength to reach our destination.

All contributions are accepted on the understanding that the authors are responsible for the opinions expressed which do not necessarily reflect the views of Ne've Shalom - the Hull Reform Synagogue.


Ne've Shalom
Great Gutter Lane
HU10 6DP



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