Yom Kippur started Tuesday night. What are you atoning for?
September 25th, 2012
03:46 PM ET

Yom Kippur started Tuesday night. What are you atoning for?

(CNN) - What have you atoned for? What would you atone for if you were into that sort of thing?

Tuesday evening marked the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, which Jews consider to be holiest day of the year. It's marked by a day-long fast.

Photos: Yom Kippur in Israel

In the spirit of the holiday, we put the question "What would you atone for?" to Twitter and got a range of responses, from silly to serious:

For faithlessness.

I would atone for my laziness and impatience. However, I am Catholic and I atone for about 40 days in Spring also.

I don't need to atone for anything. Jesus Christ already atoned for every wrong thing I've ever done or will do.

in 3rd grade I pushed my sister down the stairs and blamed it on the dog.

What about you? What are you atoning for? What would you atone for if you did celebrate the holiday?

Or maybe you already did some serious atoning this year, during Lent or Ramadan. Whatever the case, share your atonement stories with us, and we'll update this post with the best responses.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Holidays • Judaism

soundoff (349 Responses)
  1. IAM

    What is deplorable about Yom Kippur is the reciting of the Kol Nidre. How can we not be held responsible for our wrong doing and how are our oaths not valid because we recite it? This is against Divine Law. No Kol Nidre is going to save anyone from responsibilities. It is like laughing in God's face. Think about it. How can any people be trusted who believes that any oaths made is not valid, that they can lie and not be held accountable. The Bible teaches: "Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another. And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:11-12). Here is a piece of the Kol Nidre for digestion:

    "All vows [], obligations, oaths, and anathemas, whether called 'ḳonam,' 'ḳonas,' or by any other name, which we may vow, or swear, or pledge, or whereby we may be bound, from this Day of Atonement until the next (whose happy coming we await), we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, and void, and made of no effect; they shall not bind us nor have power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligatory; nor the oaths be oaths." http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9443-kol-nidre

    September 25, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • grindyfan

      funny how similar those words are together... maybe becuase the bible in part was taken from the torah? indeed it was. i dont mock you for your faith

      September 25, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Yaakov

      Kol Nidre absolves one from an oath they took to God such as saying "If I get this job, I'll donate 10,000 to charity". If the person ends up not being able to fulfill his vow, Kol Nidre which acts as a spiritual court of law, absolves one from his/her oath. This has NOTHING to do with man to man oaths which are binding.

      Your lack of understanding of the Kol Nidre service is understandable. Maybe next time ask a Jew for an explanation.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Tolerancle

      Unfortunately there are translations out there that do not reflect the actual meaning / intent of Kol Nidre. Here is a more accurate translation:

      "Let all our vows and oaths, all promises we make and the obligations we incur to You, O God, between this Yom Kippur and the next, be null and void should we, after honest effort, find ourselves unable to fulfill them. Then may we be absolved of them."

      We make every effort to keep our obligations and promises to ourselves and to God...."after honest effort"...but as we are human and therefore fallible, we do make mistakes and ask for forgiveness.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  2. ug

    Attack Iran then celebrate it.

    September 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  3. SincereAgnostic

    Jane: Do you actually know any Jews? I think he's talking about the Jews who believe in kindness and charity, in honesty and ethical behavior, and who follow the obligation of "Tikkun Olam", which roughly translates to "Repairing the World". The Jews I know (and the kind of Jew I now try to be) do not sneer at others who are too "stupid" to have found the One True Answer, and who continue to obstinately insist that it is your actions, not your beliefs, that define your quality as a human being. That's why I left the faith in which I was raised, and now proudly call myself a Jew.

    September 25, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • SincereAgnostic

      Oops - the above was supposed to be a reply to "Jane", who was promulgating the stereotype that Jews "worship money", which in my experience is far from the truth. As in any faith group, there are members who are greedy, deceitful, and hateful, but this goes directly against the core tenets of the Jewish philosophy.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    prayer changes things

    September 25, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 25, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  5. Irrational Exuberance

    My failure to point out the bloodthirsty animal torturing barbarity of the Bible for so long.

    Be it the ritual sacrifice of animals of Judaism or the human sacrifice which finally appeased their god among the Christian sect.

    For the sake of argument, lets say their god exists. Why would they desire to spend time with a being who demanded blood to buy their love. Can a individual Jew, Christian, anyone actually, find it within themselves, their tiny, imperfect, and oh so not infinite selves to forgive another for a transgression made upon them without demanding the blood of n animal, or another human being?

    I think so, then if their god is perfect and so much more loving, more kind, more just, and more merciful why can't it? And it it can't why do they think it is more of any of those traits.

    September 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • JIll Harper

      Amen. I am so overwhelmed with saddness at the abuse animals endure. When people ask me if I care about humans too, I tell them, we are also animals...of course I do, EQUALLY...I'm NOT a Specieist.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  6. jmanring

    We cannot atone for anything ourselves. Only Jesus Christ can atone for sin, and He did when He died on the cross in the place of His people.
    "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." -Isaiah 53:6

    September 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • grindyfan

      i dont bash what you believe in. have some respect. the unites states of america was founded on the idea to be able to practice what ever faith you choose.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  7. Andy Daniel

    I'm not going to get into a religious argument, but I'll share one important line paraphrased from the Yom Kippur liturgy.

    "Yom Kipur only absolves one of sins committed against God. For sins committed against a person, you must first right the wrong you committed."

    So even those of other faiths or of no faith can find something secularly good in Yom Kippur.

    September 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  8. Bribarian

    lol jews atoning for anything? Likely the only atonement they'll be doing is wishing they finished off the ethnic cleansing in Palestine decades ago.

    September 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • SincereAgnostic

      Bribarian: What you don't know would fill an ocean. The core of the Jewish philosophy (at least the Reform/Conservative movements - I can not speak for the Orthodox) is to do right by others. Unlike my former faith, it's not about what you believe, but how you behave. They don't set an impossibly high standard, then say: "Since you can't jump this hurdle, just believe correctly and do whatever you want". Instead, they say: "Do your best to be honest, ethical, and caring, and when you fall short, seek to rectify the damage and strive to do better in the future". That's what Yom Kippur is all about. The rest is stereotypes promulgated by the ignorant.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  9. Jarsbait

    The really lovely thing about any post concerning religion is that it brings out the worst tendencies in the religious and non-religious alike. If your faith depends on every one else being absolutely wrong, you are not walking with God, you're stroking your own ego and projecting hatred towards your fellow men. An atheist who doesn't judge is more holy than a religious person who does.

    September 25, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Faye


      October 10, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  10. shane

    I guess I would have to atone for all the lies I told about Obama this last year, along with about another 100 million other liars. We all know he's a good president, but he needs to do something about the color of his skin. 100 million people can't all be wrong; can they?

    September 25, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  11. Atheism is Great for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

    It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and lets them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, were just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago. (Yes, charlatan folklore and spam started long before the Bible; what would make you think they hadn't?) And they need to be taught that other things, like God, we really don't know a damn thing about.

    Atheists have strong minds and don't need a religion. Many religious folk have the best intentions. But too often, religious folk run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, they disserve society). And too often, religious folk are easily offended when someone mocks their make-believe characters – and, as we can see they can get really CRAZY!

    Although there are many religious folk with good intentions – some selflessly helping others, religions and religious organizations are, as a whole, just big old clubs – each trying to out do each other and inspiring hate and division (often disguised as love) along the way. The problem is that people too easily buy into religion and don't realize how unfounded it all is. And when they buy into it, they buy into a lot of really old, really weird tenets that are nothing but harmful for the human species.

    Take Christianity, for instance. Just look at all the things that Christians argue about amongst themselves today – abortion, men's and women's roles in the church, celibacy, contraception, acceptance of gays, etc. Most of these issues have their roots in the conflicted, unfounded tenets of early Christianity. Non-Mormons harp on Joseph Smith these days. But we really don't have any more proof at all to believe that Paul, the self-proclaimed "apostle" was anything more than an ordinary man who needed to make up religious "sales literature" to survive and spread his own personal beliefs. And yet a good chunk of the NT is attributed to Paul and accepted by many Christians. And a lot of what he wrote about has to do with many of the issues I mentioned above that have Christians fighting amongst themselves hundreds of years later. It's way too unfounded to argue over.

    Get a good cup of tea, and sit down and collect your thoughts. If you find it helpful to pray to a god, fine. But it is really healthier for the mind to leave behind all the characters that people over the centuries have invented or given powers to, for which there is little or no foundation. Because with those invented characters and powers – that's where division and hate join the little party in your mind. That's where, in your mind, you are inheriting the division and hate from ordinary politicians, lobbyists and salesmen from long ago. My goodness.

    OBAMA 2012!
    CLINTON 2016!
    CLINTON 2020!

    mama kindless

    September 25, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Faye

      Wonderful post. Thanks for putting everything so well.

      October 10, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    September 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs! *.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi prayerbot

      September 25, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Veritas

      So pray for some imagination.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Jarsbait

      If you consider God some sort of cosmic vending machine returning anything of this earth, you will be disappointed in prayer. God does not heal the sick, steer hurricanes or make a curve ball come back over the plate for strike three.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  13. thecollegeadmissionsguru

    I would not "atone" for anything. To atone, one has to assume that there is a higher power, a god if you will, for whom we must atone for our "sins." Now, when I harm someone or offend someone, I always make a point to mend what I have done and to accept responsibility for my actions. But, as an Atheist, I suppose to mose people I can't be moral so there.

    September 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Jarsbait

      There is another side of atonement associated with the High Holy Days that even an atheist can get behind. That is atoning to those in our lives we have wronged, and asking their forgiveness. I consider that a more holy and efficacious process than atoning to a god. You have the opportunity to restore peace, to expand love, to develop trust, and even heal another through atonement. It is not being forgiven that counts – it is recognizing that you have (or even may have) caused another hurt, and saying to another that you're sorry.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • SincereAgnostic

      The reason I converted to Judaism is that there (at least in the Reform/Conservative movements), the emphasis is on behavior, not belief. You can be a good Jew even if you doubt the theology. There's no "Get Out Of H*ll Free" card, as in the faith I left. On Yom Kippur, it is made clear that seeking forgiveness from a deity is not enough. You are expected to seek reconciliation with those whom you have hurt, and to commit to doing better in the future.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  14. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    Word Jew is based on Hebrew word Yehood, meaning self centered, a secular, criminal or such as word pig based on old Persian language, meaning the same, self centered or secular, denier of truth absolute, Think twice before calling your self to be a Jew, secular or believing in hinduism, illegality of Judaism, self center ism, or pig ism. DO NOT BE A JEW, SECULAR, DENIER OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE AND BE A HEBREW, OBEDIENT TO TRUTH ABSOLUTE FOR PEACE ISLAM, SHALOM AMONG HUMANITY. visit limitisthetruth.com to know truth of hindu Judaism, pagan secularism.

    September 25, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Jarsbait

      Um, yeah. Peddle it somewhere else.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • grindyfan

      get help or get out of a country which practices freedom of religion ;). you might be in a cult though...

      September 25, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  15. hippypoet

    atone for being too stupid to realize that you are in a cult!

    September 25, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Jane

      The only cult out in the world are the antichrists like yourself.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • hippypoet

      look up the word cult and then think deeply about your religious beliefs...i think you will find that the truth is far more enlightening then the fasle truth you hide behind and i am far from anti christ...i am anti religion and pro thinking. sry for the confusion, it must be that you are religious and therefore do a lack of thinking compared to the rest of the humans.

      you are in a death cult worshipping the idea of a man coming back from the dead and with hopes of an afterlife – thats a death cult. go eat some more holy waffers ...the body of christ....go drink some more wine....the blood of christ – now tell me, how is that not wierd one and two how is that now worshipping the dead coming back and with the ingestion of the "flesh" and "blood" you gain entrance to heaven....seriously fuked up sh!t... some of you even have body parts of past "saints" – idol worship – but lets not nic pick here right! i bet you even have a idol of jesus dead on the cross around your neck or hanging somewhere in your house – yup...death cult!

      September 25, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  16. William Demuth

    Why do you ask?

    Every damn time a body part shows up in some shallow grave, everybody looks at me!

    I shall never ask for forgivness, I shall just deny, deny, and deny some more whilst balming the victim and screaming about being persecuted. Then I shall ask fr money to help my persecuted brethern.

    Isn't that the way religion works?

    September 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Materialist not

      Well done, crispy critter. Over and out. Sooner than latter. Waste of oxygen when you worship yourself and money.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Jane

      This guy is a pathetic 16 year old.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  17. sally

    Ooo. I tried herring when I was young. It's nasty.

    September 25, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  18. myweightinwords

    As a song says, "to be forgiven, you must first believe in sin"...Personally, I don't believe in a day or a period of time in which atonement is sought.

    In my practice, if I cause harm, if I hurt someone and I am made aware of it, I must, then and there, exam the reasons, apologize and seek forgiveness.

    I do not need to seek salvation or some mystic forgiveness from a deity. I do not believe there is anything I could possibly do in this lifetime that would hurt or harm the Divine. Forgiveness can only come from those I have wronged in some way.

    September 25, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Materialist not

      Why hurt someone in the first place. What a dunce.

      September 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Materialist not

      No matter how careful people are, there will come a time, whether intentionally or not, you will hurt someone else.

      September 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Jane

      It's the hidden agenda while hurting another that is the issue.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • SincereAgnostic

      Weight: Your philosophy is very Jewish. I'm an agnostic, so I doubt that there's a deity from whom I need to beg for forgiveness for "crimes" with no earthly victims (the usual definition of "sins"). Jews are expected to do their best to behave in an ethical and caring fashion every day, and to "atone" for shortfalls at that time. But it really helps to take a day to review the whole year, looking for where you have consistently fallen short, and coming up with a plan for how to do better next year.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      @Materialist not,

      Unfortunately none of us can pass through this life without causing another person pain. It is often unintentional, many times caused by being too self-focused. Other times there simply isn't a way around it. Even doing the right thing can hurt someone.

      It is then our responsibility to own up to our shortcomings and atone for the pain we've caused.

      September 26, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • myweightinwords

      @Jane, It's the hidden agenda while hurting another that is the issue.

      All too often pain arises because we are not paying attention,or paying attention to the wrong things. If, on the other hand, we purposely seek to do harm, that is a different thing entirely.

      September 26, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • myweightinwords


      Your philosophy is very Jewish.

      In actuality, I'm Pagan...what I believe about the Divine/Deity is very complicated however and not easy to sum up in a single word.

      I'm an agnostic, so I doubt that there's a deity from whom I need to beg for forgiveness for "crimes" with no earthly victims (the usual definition of "sins").

      I concur.

      Jews are expected to do their best to behave in an ethical and caring fashion every day, and to "atone" for shortfalls at that time.

      As should we all, honestly.

      But it really helps to take a day to review the whole year, looking for where you have consistently fallen short, and coming up with a plan for how to do better next year.

      That is actually a part of my daily practice. In the time shortly before I sleep, I look at my day, my thoughts and behaviors and I hold them against that which I believe. I make notes of those places I fall short and when I see something that indicates a need to change something, I make it.

      Or at least, that is the attempt I make. I don't always live up to that expectation. But I try. Every day.

      September 26, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  19. Reality

    Orthodox Jews, Christians and Muslims should atoning for not keeping up with the 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis !!

    To wit:

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

    The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

    The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

    September 25, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Cindy

      Reality, what type of Jew are you?

      September 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Materialist not

      Cindy, this guy is most definitely a Jew. Why bother asking?

      September 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Reality

      Oops, make that "Orthodox Jews, Christians and Muslims should atone................................

      Actually, I am a former Catholic, now an agnostic as per the following:

      The Apostles' Creed 2012 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      (References used are available upon request.)

      September 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Jane

      Are you speaking of the Jews that hate Jesus and worship money?

      September 25, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Only a hindu, ignorant like you can dream some thing hindu stupid calim like your's, Go associate your self with your own hindu Jewish filthy self centered, secular kind, believer of Judaism, pig ism, self centered by faith. No one has to atone as you hind, absurd but kick their hind to make them believe in truth absolute to make them live like human. hindu, ignorant.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  20. Terrell

    I would atone for every christian to wake up realize that the Lord is coming and the anti-christ is here!

    September 25, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Cindy

      Not yet.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Huebert


      Do you know what atone means?

      September 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      I think maybe you do not understand the meaning of the word "atone".

      September 25, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
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