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The Etz Chaim


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On Friday, at 6:16 pm London time, the Day of Atonement begins. We have already symbolically cast our sins into ‘living’ water in the ceremony of tashlich. Now the Day of Atonement is a time for sober reflection, teshuvah (repentance), and prayer. Throughout, there is the plea to be written in the Sefer Chaim – the Book of Life.

Our God is all about Chaim – Life. After all, He is the Creator, Source, and Sustainer of all life that is. In Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden, He planted a Tree of Life. This Etz Chaim was there as a blessing, and it was through the ‘Fall’ that humanity lost access to it. All was not lost. He provided us the Torah, which is a Tree of Life (Proverbs 3:18). He provides Living Water (Psalm 1, John 7:38), and keeps a ‘Book of Life’, references to which are too numerous to list.

As Messianic Jews, we rejoice in the fact that our Messiah has promised that we will be listed in the Book of Life (Rev 21:27). In fact, it is not just for we Jews, but for the multitudes of all nations, for it is too small a thing for the Servant-Messiah to be merely given rule the tribes of Jacob (Isaiah 49:6)!

In every Torah service we sing ‘etz chaim hi lemachazikim bach’ which means ‘it is a Tree of Life to those who take hold of it’. It is no surprise then that our Messiah is called the ‘Word’ of God (John 1:1).

This Yom Kippur, we fast – yet rejoice in Him!

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