This coming week’s Torah parsha is Emor (Lev. 21:1-24:23). Included in this week’s reading are the commandments concerning Yom Kippur:
 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.
 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.
(Lev. 23:26-32 KJV)
This includes the commandment to “afflict your souls” (Lev. 23:27, 32).
The expression “to afflict your souls” in Hebrew is a euphemism meaning “to fast” (Tzom). The Hebrew phrase ‘INuI NeFeSH is translated as “afflicting the soul”. It also appears in a number of Scriptural passages, in which it is clear that this expression refers to fasting:
“…I afflicted (KJV: “humbled”) my soul with fasting;
and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.”
“…I wept, and afflicted (KJV: “chastened”) my soul with fasting,
that was to my reproach.”
“Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and you see not?
wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and you take no notice?…”
(Isaiah 58:3; see also vv.5 & 10)
This is because the word “Soul” Means “appetite”
It should be pointed out that one of the meanings of the word “NeFeSH”, commonly translated as “soul”, is in fact “appetite”. For example:
“And put a knife to your throat,
if you be a man given to appetite (NeFeSH).”
” For he satisfies the longing soul (NeFeSH),
and fills the hungry soul (NeFeSH) with goodness.”
“The full soul (NeFeSH) loathes a honeycomb;
but to the hungry soul (NeFeSH) every bitter thing is sweet.”
“Yea, they are greedy dogs
which can never satisfy their souls (NeFeSH) (KJV: “have enough”)”
Philo of Alexandria said concerning the reasons for Yom Kippur:
The first reason is the temperance which the lawgiver is continually exhorting men to display at all times, both in their language and in their appetites, both in and below the belly. And he most especially enjoins them to display it now, when he devotes a day to the particular observances of it. For when a person has once learnt to be indifferent to meat and drink, those very necessary things, what can there be of things which are superfluous that he would find any difficulty in disregarding?
(Special Laws II, 195)
The Fast of Yom Kippur helps to teach us the virtue of self-control and this trains us to make our rational mind master over our desires and appetites.
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