Spiritual Lessons Christians and Jews Share During the High Holy Days
By Yael Eckstein
The High Holy Days are about to begin! During these 10 holy days of introspection and prayer, the Jewish people will embark on a spiritual journey—a chance for meaningful change, repentance, and reconnecting with God.
The holidays begin with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest time of the year for the Jewish people.
During this sacred time, the Jewish people are reminded to actively practice three virtues, called the three pillars: repentance, prayer, and charity. Putting these biblical principles into practice helps to ready our hearts for God.
These virtues are rooted in the Hebrew Bible (which Christians know as the Old Testament), a source of wisdom for Jews and Christians alike. So we can all reconnect with God by reflecting on and practicing these three virtues.
The first pillar is repentance, which gives us a way to make space for God so that we can “get right” with God.
When we make the first steps to return to our loving God, he is right there waiting for us with compassion and love. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all of our responsibilities in this busy world and forget that God is actually always around us, waiting for us to let him in. He’s in the hearts of our friends and family. He’s with us when we make difficult decisions or go through hard times, and he’s there celebrating with us during joyful times. When we realize that he waits for us not to judge us harshly, but to welcome us home as a loving Father, we can be filled with peace.
The second pillar is prayer. Through prayer, we establish a relationship with God and are able to tell him everything on our hearts.
Scripture says: “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you” (Jeremiah 29:12).
God wants to know you and be a part of your life, and he’s always listening to you. It can be easy to forget to share our hearts with God. But when we’re stressed out, worried, or unsure of what to do next, God is there for us. How amazing that we have a kind and understanding God who wants to listen to us and help us through any challenge we face. And like any good relationship, the more effort we put into it, the stronger it will be. The more we share our hearts with God, the more connected we will feel—and our lives will be so much more joyful.
The third pillar is giving charity. Through charity, we share God’s love with others through acts of service.
We trust that God will sustain us according to his promise that “those who give to the poor will lack nothing” (Proverbs 28:27).
From a heart of gratitude to God for all his blessings comes a desire to share his love and blessings by giving to others. When we recognize that all the blessings we have are from God, we realize our call to share them with others. When we extend our blessings, whether it’s through acts of service or gifts of charity, we are spreading God’s love and making the world a better place.
The prophet Isaiah tells us that God isn’t pleased by an outward display of devotion, but by acts of service like feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. During the High Holy Days, we have a chance to bless others in very tangible ways and show just how thankful we are for all of God’s blessings.
How exciting that both Jews and Christians can join in practicing these three pillars of the High Holy Days—getting right with God, showing him our hearts through prayer, and giving to those in need—to grow and strengthen our connection with God.[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Bridge Builder: An Interview with Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein]
Bio: Yael Eckstein (@YaelEckstein) is President and CEO of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (@TheFellowship), the largest charitable organization in Israel and the largest Christian-supported humanitarian organization helping Israel and the Jewish people. Yael stepped into this role in February 2019 following the unexpected death of her father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, who had founded The Fellowship in 1983.
Yael oversees all ministry programs and serves as the international spokesperson for The Fellowship, which raises more than $127 million annually, helping 1.5 million Jews in need in Israel and around the world. Prior to her present duties, Yael served as Global Executive Vice President, Senior Vice President, and Director of Program Development and Ministry Outreach. Based in Jerusalem with her husband and their four children, Yael is a published writer and a respected social services professional.
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