The True Fast
27 Howbeit on the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; there shall be a holy convocation unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls; and ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto YHWH.
3 'Wherefore have we fasted, and Thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and Thou takest no knowledge?'--Behold, in the day of your fast ye pursue your business, and exact all your labours.
4 Behold, ye fast for strife and contention, and to smite with the fist of wickedness; ye fast not this day so as to make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I have chosen? the day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to YHWH?
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the fetters of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy healing shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee, the glory of YHWH shall be thy rearward.
9 Then shalt thou call, and YHWH will answer; thou shalt cry, and He will say: 'Here I am.' If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking wickedness;
10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in darkness, and thy gloom be as the noon-day;
Rabbi Ben Ammi taught that fasting from food is not the affliction of the soul that the Creator wanted the people to experience on Yom Kippur and this is clearly stated in Isaiah. The true fast is one where a person abstains from hard heartedness towards his/her people, which for those with these kinds of hearts is truly an affliction! The true fast is not from food but from the negativity which causes separation and division in the midst of Yah Yahwah’s people, which causes the more fortunate to ignore the needs of the less so and to hold petty grudges for years on end. Since the people clearly viewed fasting from food as an affliction of the soul, YHWH would not have intended for them to fast in this manner on the Sabbath:
13 If thou turn away thy foot because of the sabbath, from pursuing thy business on My holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, and the holy of YHWH honourable; and shalt honour it, not doing thy wonted ways, nor pursuing thy business, nor speaking thereof;
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in YHWH, and I will make thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and I will feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of YHWH hath spoken it.
We understand the benefits of physical fasting today but fasting on the Sabbath was not required of our fathers. They associated what they considered affliction of the soul for Yom Kippur with the weekly Sabbath and viewed that day also as one of affliction, using that as justification for continuing to treat the Sabbath in many ways like any other day! Yom Kippur is a Sabbath outside the cycle of Sabbaths set by YHWH, i.e. every 7th day, and this is the reason it is referred to in Leviticus in the manner that it is:
32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of solemn rest, and ye shall afflict your souls; in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye keep your sabbath.
Every individual in the nation of Israel is required to “afflict” his/her soul on Yom Kippur while the High Priest made atonement for the people as a whole. Each person must look within their heart and soul and make an honest assessment of where they stand in their relationship with YHWH and their immediate and extended family and no one is exempt. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to be present when Rabbi Ben Ammi told the heads of the nation at that time that when he looked back at the journey we have been on, he had to admit that many mistakes were made, not deliberately, but because we simply didn’t know any better! We had come filled with zeal to build something for which there was no blueprint and we got a lot of things wrong in the process! We have come a long way, he said, but we still only have at most 12% of the knowledge that we need, and the tools and understanding that have brought us this far won’t take us where we need to go!
Yom Kippur is the time for everyone to make these kinds of honest assessments and then to have the courage to make the changes required to rise to the next level!
May Yah Yahwah bless you and keep you; may He cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; may He lift up His countenance onto you and give you Peace!