Sunday, April 19, 2015

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More on a Digg–Rituals of Strictly Orthodox Jews (2)

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths … All images in this article © Yaakov Naumi/Flash90

A Digg grabs a photoset from an interesting photographer, Yaakov Naumi.  Mr. Naumi is (or was, it’s unclear) a charedi ultra-orthodox Jew from Israel, and specializes in taking news style photographs of charedi life and charedi news events.  It notes that because Mr. Naumi is (or was) part of the community, it opens the doors for him to come and take the photos.  He provides brief descriptions of what’s being shown, but because of the brevity often misses many interesting aspects.

I’ve decided to grab a few photos and give those interesting details…

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On the day before Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, one wishes to have done as much repentance as possible.  There are a number of customs for the day which involve “getting your punishment now” rather than being judged and punished “min hashamayim”, from Heaven. 

In the custom above, a punishment for certain sins involve LASHES administered by the Holy Religious Court in Jerusalem – WHICH DOES NOT EXIST AT THIS TIME.  “If I did a sin for which I would receive lashes, if the Holy Court still existed, or should receive such a punishment, rather than become ill or die for this sin, I will receive lashes from my fellow and enter Yom Kippur already having been “punished”.  From a practical standpoint the lashes are only given as a “tap” with a belt.  No real painful lashing is occurring. 

It is yet another practice to bring one to repentance in preparation for the holy and awesome day of Yom Kippur.  It is practiced by a variety of types of chassidim.

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A number of celebrations are held with young children in their early school years as they progress in their religious studies.  The “siddur party”, when children are old enough to read prayers and receive their first prayer book.  And, as in the photo above, the “chumash party”, when they are old enough to read from the Torah (bible) and receive their first volume of Torah.  (Chumash is an abbreviation for a term that means “the 5 books of Moses”).

At a chumash party the children wear crowns, because it is taught that at the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, the Jews received 2 crowns – one for “we will do” and one for “we will listen/learn”, the Jews response to G-d on being given the Torah.  It’s a happy occasion typically attended by one’s father, who carries the child around on their shoulders, as well as older siblings.  Mothers and grandparents may be in attendance also, depending on the local custom.

Mazel Tov, you’re old enough to learn Torah!

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