Restoring Balance: Exploring an Ancient Paradigm for Moving Beyond Our Mistakes

A webinar with Rabbi Julia Andelman, Director of Community Engagement, JTS.

Part of the series: Faith, Forgiveness, and Prayer: Preparing for the Days of Awe.

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement—yet the concept of atonement itself is rarely explored. The text of the mahzor (High Holiday prayerbook) asks God to “forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement”—but how is atonement distinct from forgiveness and pardon? Through an examination of biblical and rabbinic sources, we learn how our ancestors interpreted the concept of kapparah, atonement, and the great power it held in their understanding of how human beings—flawed in our very nature—can carry on in the world after we have sinned. While most of their particular methods of achieving atonement are no longer operable, we can mine their perspective for insight into how we in the 21st century can move on after we have caused harm and live healthy, whole lives despite our inevitable mistakes.

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