“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the Lord. And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”
As a mother of a seven and ten-year-old, it is my heart’s desire that my children understand the significance of this appointed time. It’s the holiest day of the year and one of the most somber. Yom Kippur is a Shabbat, but in addition to it being a day to rest, it is a day to afflict our souls. This day is about our flesh feeling uncomfortable, and our hearts, minds, and souls focused on our Great High Priest and the atonement He makes on our behalf.
As a parent, we have a difficult time seeing our children afflicted in any way. However, that is the very instruction that YHWH gives His people. And I don’t believe that children are exempt from it. Children are an important part of the covenant relationship with our King. It is our duty to instruct them in the ways of the Torah and teach them to walk as Messiah walked.
With that being said, I would like to offer some suggestions for how children can participate in Yom Kippur. We will be putting most if not all, of these into effect in our home.
In the New Testament, Yom Kippur is referred to as the Great Fast. It is custom to fast during Yom Kippur and break the fast at sundown after the appointment is over by sharing in a lovely meal together. I do not recommend children under the age of 5 fast meals. For those over the age of 5, you may consider having them fast one meal of the day and encourage them to spend that time in prayer. If your child is a pre-teen or teenager, and they would like to participate in a day fast with you, do not discourage them from doing so. Just be sure to monitor them throughout the day. You may encourage them to drink water or juice.
There are many conveniences in our homes, as well as electronic gadgets that keep all of us young at heart occupied. Banning use of iPods, iPads, smartphones, and the like is recommended for the 24 hour period. This is a good idea for everyone in the home. Moms and Dads, yes, I am talking to you as well. We will all survive without checking our email or Facebook accounts, or posting on Twitter, etc. Unfortunately, these items can distract us from personal time with God. There may be other activities that your children enjoy on a daily basis, use good judgment and if you feel led, have your child refrain from participating in those things as well. Furthermore, you may choose not to have your children bathe or use hair products or makeup. The focus is not on us today.
Spend time praying with your children and offering forgiveness for past hurts. Read the Torah portion for Yom Kippur together, Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9, or one of King David’s prayers in the Psalms. Use this time as a family to draw close to the Lord. You many also want to allow your children their own personal time of prayer and Bible reading in their rooms or a quiet place in the house or outdoors.
Enjoy the day of rest, YHWH has provided. Take a nap. Relax and listen to worship music. Cuddle with your kids. If you children attend school, take them out for the day. As a student, they are required to work hard in their studies. Yom Kippur is a Sabbath rest for all ages.
If possible, make plans to attend a Yom Kippur service or gather in the home with friends and family. As a body, spend time in study, worship, prayer, and fellowship.
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It is our sin, our transgressions of the Torah, and our uncleanness that stains the altar. It is the atonement needs made for our sins. The blood of Y‘shua acts as a detergent, soap, stain remover, and makes clean our transgressions. To teach your children about Yom Kippur and what Y’shua has done for us, take an old white t-shirt and dirty it with grass, mud, ketchup…you get the idea! All of the stains represent our sin. Next, take some stain remover, such as OxiClean, and apply to the stained areas. Rub until the stain disappears or at least is minimally visible.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
At the close of Yom Kippur, as mentioned above, enjoy a meal together and celebrate. Our past sins are forgiven and remembered no more! And we look forward to a day coming soon, when our names are to be found inscribed in the Book of Life, and we will get to tabernacle with our King for eternity. That is certainly a reason to rejoice!