“Chatima Tova (may you have a good final sealing)”, said someone passing under my window to another passerby.
“Tikatevu Ve’Techatemu (may you and yours be inscribed in the Book of Life and sealed in it forever)”, came the reply.
These blessings are common sayings among Jews in this season. You hear them everywhere. You leave a store, and the proprietor exclaims “Chatima Tova”.
It is based on a Rabbinical concept, according to which during the Ten Days of Awe (between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur) God judges the entire world and decrees what would be each person’s lot for the coming year. He then writes the decree down in a book and seals it. Thus, Chatima Tova – may your name be sealed in the Book of Life.
Imprint – “Hachtama”
There’s an interesting phenomenon in the animal kingdom. It is called imprint (in Hebrew, the term is Hachtama – derived from the same root used for Chatima – sealing, and Chotam – seal). It happens immediately upon a gosling hatching out of its egg. This is a swift and powerful moment during which the gosling develops an attachment to the first object that moves before its eyes. The imprint is designed to establish a deep bond between the gosling and its parents, in order to protect the gosling and nourish it.
Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989), an Australian scientist, was the first one who discovered this phenomenon when he noticed that geese goslings treated him as if he was their mother goose. They followed him around, tried to court him when they reached adultescence, and preferred his company to that of their own kind. He also discovered that there is a very short window of time from hatching that affects the imprinting, for the moment the gosling is fixated on some form, that will forever be its mother figure. https://youtu.be/JGyfcBfSj4M
The goslings following Lorenz around
He even observed that the goslings can be imprinted by inanimate objects.
Goslings who developed an imprint to a white ball
The imprint can also be to another animal
What Does One Have to Do With the Other?
It’s been over 36 years since I started following Yeshua, and I am still learning how to recognize His voice and footprints. At times I wish I was able to follow Him blindly, automatically, like goslings after the first thing they lay their eyes on; there are times I wish I didn’t have to put so much effort into it, with no hesitation of whether I should turn to the right or the left. But the sinful nature within me speaks loudly, too loud, and if I allow inanimate objects or some idols to move in front of my eyes for too long, they rapidly turn into the loudest voice in my ears. They absolutely imprint me.
But then I remind myself that I have been signed and sealed through and through, that I am written in both the Book of Life (Rev. 13:8) and the Scroll of Remembrance (Mal. 3:16).
On Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) God commanded the High Priest to take two goats, offer one as a sin offering and the other send as a scapegoat into the wilderness of Azazel (Lev. 16:8). A man appointed to the task was to take the scapegoat to the wilderness and there push it off the edge of a cliff to its death.
The Scapegoat – a realistic oil painting by William Holman Hunt, 1854-1856
The Sages added commandments to those found in the Torah. The Talmud tells us that the appointed man would tie a scarlet thread between the horns of the goat. Another scarlet thread was tied inside the Temple. And while the scapegoat was pushed to his death, the goat offered as sin offering was sacrificed at the Temple simultaneously. If God accepted both sacrifices, the scarlet (red) threads would turn white, as a sign that He has indeed forgiven the sins of the people and sealed them in the Book of Life.
Now… here is a fascinating story also found in the Talmud (Yoma 39:2). It turns out that about 40 years prior to the destruction of the Temple, strange signs started occurring in it: a candle that was supposed to stay lit all night long, died down; the doors of the Temple opened on their own; and most important in relation to the issue at hand – the scarlet thread ceased turning white. As if to say: God no longer accepts the sacrifices on Yom Kippur and the sins of the nation are not forgiven, the people are no longer sealed and signed in the Book of Life.
All these signs appeared around the time of Yeshua’s crucifixion. Sadly, the nation failed to realize that there is another interpretation, another message: the sacrifice of sin offering is no longer required in order for them to be sealed and written in the Book of Life. All that is required is that they lift their eyes and look upon Him who was pierced, and realize that that sin Offering took all of it upon Himself!
In this confusing season, when so many contradicting voices are heard, I bless all of God’s children with a deep ability to recognize His voice and be familiar with His motions. May we live and conduct ourselves with a deep assurance that we are sealed by His blood – to such an extent that no voice and no other footsteps will ever confuse us.
I invite you to pray for those who wish upon each other a blessing they do not even comprehend – “Chatima Tova”. I hear it, and it breaks my heart: they have no confidence, no assurance that they can enter the Gate and approach the Holy of Holies without fearing that they will be pushed off the edge of a cliff.
Since the destruction of the Temple, Rabbinical Judaism has developed a myriad of substitutes for atonement: wearing a Kippa (yarmulke), communal prayers, Kapparot (see https://ornagrinman.com/2017/09/29/atoning-without-blood/). However, as of 2pm today, we have all been sent to our respective homes for an extreme lockdown proposed to last at least two weeks. How will the religious Jew now atone for his sins? What is left for him to do?
Join me in prayer that this state of affairs will cause them to turn their eyes from their well known routine, one they have followed blindly for centuries like imprinted goslings, and look up unto the true Scarlet Thread.
Verses to Meditate On
He has sealed [Chatam] us with His seal [Chotam], and given us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30), and we are already written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 21:27).