Yom Kippur and Atheists

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    Ok, I’m not an atheist, but I have come to the realization that I am not quite sure that everything in the Torah is from Sinai. So how do I go about preparing for Yom Kippur? I want to be a good person, and I want to have a sweet new year, and I want to do tshuva if I did anything wrong. But I am unsure if most of the mitzvos are in fact divine, and so I can’t bring myself to do tshuva for aveiros that I do not believe in.

    What do I do?

    This question is mainly for others in my situation. This thread is not to convince me or others about Torah MiSinai. This thread is to help us deal with Yom Kippur.

    Mods: Many of us in this situation need help, and this forum could provide it.


    Rav Amnon Yitzchok has an incredibly CLEAR way of explaining these concepts.


    So is your q, how do we know if Judaism is the correct religion? Or is it that once we know Judaism is right, how do we know that the Torah is part of it? Or did I totally miss the boat.


    Good question!!!!!

    Why do you want to prepare for Yom Kippur? Do you believe the RBSO seals your fate on that day? Who says so if not the Torah?


    Google ‘ani maamin foundation’ [animaamin.org] for many interesting lectures on this exact subject. Hatzlocho!

    jewish source

    lets just say Its a 50/50 chance that the Torah is divine ( even though it takes a couple of minutes to show anyone that the Torah is G-d given.

    If I am right that the Torah is divine then you will get Kares if you do not fast Yom Kippur. If on the other hand you are right but you listend to the Torah all you lost is a day of not eating.

    So in simple terms for a smart calculated decision it is pretty clear you have nothing to loose and everything to gain by fasting.

    And beg G-d to send you the correct guidence. The worst sickness a person could have is that he doesnt even realize that he is sick

    Hashem yerache alecha val kol yotzei chalothecha I bench you with a gut yar !


    Yes, I will be fasting and davening the entire day. My question is how to do tshuva when one is not convinced that he did any aveira.


    If you believe in Hashem Daven to Him to help and guide you in the right direction.


    How do you deal with the rest of your life? Why is this only coming to a head for YK? What did you do on RH?


    My question is how to do tshuva when one is not convinced that he did any aveira.

    Even if you’re not sure that God exists, and therefore are in doubt as to the validity of the mitzvos, surely, at some point during the year, you wronged your fellow man. You can focus on that.

    The Wolf


    Well, Rosh Hashana was very hard too. Which is why I’m asking about Yom Kippur. The rest of the year….. I do what everyone does, you don’t think too much about it.



    I am in a position similar to yours, except my emotional attachment to those beliefs is somewhat less. Just go along with what makes you feel good. If you “feel” an attachment to God by going to shul etc. on Yom Kippur or if it makes you/ your wife feel good then do it. Some introspection and thinking about how you can improve yourself and make yourself a better person is a good thing even if there is no God and/or Yom Kippur is a man made holiday.


    Yungerman: Try this. Whom do you know in real life that you think is very smart? Whom do you admire? Do THEY believe? Talk to them, and ask them why.


    I am not trying to argue this point, merely attain clarity on the question: “My intellect tells me that Yom Kippur was made up”. -made up by whom? Why and when was it made up? Please respond.

    live right

    I am at a loss for words.

    do you really think you have been perfect this year? that you have not done a single thing you shouldn’t have? come on, be honest. if you really do a cheshbon hanefesh I am sure you can come up with some feelings of guilt.

    and if Yom Kippur was “made up”, how do you account for all the Jews including the non-religious who feel compelled to observe it in some way?

    Mussaf on Yom Kippur describes the entire ritual that took place in the beis Hamikdash on Yom Kippur. what is your outlook on that? that its a nice fairy tale?

    These are just some thoughts of mine on the subject. real question is, why do you doubt that Yom Kippur is in fact legit?


    eclipse- There are many very smart people that would agree with the intellect of the OP, so finding someone really smart to explain things to him/her would not accomplish much.

    Ferd on Drugs- “Made up” by the same individuals that “made up” the rest of religion.

    live right- You asked, “and if Yom Kippur was “made up”, how do you account for all the Jews including the non-religious who feel compelled to observe it in some way?”

    How about the 1.57 billion (23% of the world’s population) who believe in Islam? Or 2.2 billion Christians?


    It’s interesting to me that someone who is an adult (it seems) needs to convey a message of clear disbelief in G-d and is wondering if they should fast on Yom Kipper.

    Please find a competent Rabbi to discuss the matter with further.

    A real intelligent atheist (whom I have had the privilege of being friends with) will feel the need to study religion (question it and make fun of it), but maintain mutual respect towards religious folk.

    You seem to be living a double-life. You go through the motions of Jewish culture, it’s not real!

    Please take the time to study and learn: Aish.com or Simpletoremember.com


    ok this is gonna be long and possible a tad complicated so keep bear with me

    i completely hear your prob and i had the same prob not to long ago you must take time to sit alone and think honestly to yourself if what you know now about judaisim is enough that a rational person NOT YOU PER SE but another different rational person would say that the odds are its true NOT that there is proof of any sort but just a reasonable amount of evidence that would make a rational person of a court of law compelled to say its true or at least CAN be true now when you come up with your answer… if its yes then ask yourself 2 questions 1)are the questions that im asking really bothering me as questions or are they maybe just whisps of and yes i hate to say it but OCD lingering within me for if it wasnt ocd why then would i not feel this way more often about many other parts of yiddishkiet (granted yom kippur makes sense to feel this way more but so much so that you cant get yourself to say a few words on a page? that even according to you mean nothing?! if you were to ask a non religous jew who isnt against judaisim but just not a believer he would be able to say the words without a problem maybe not mean what he says but say the words nonetheless)

    if your answer is no then you must say to yourself this ” i came to this conclusion through logic, now logic would as well dictate that if i had on one side of the scale a good reason to believe that something WASNT true and on the other side even a tiny tiny chance to believe it was (which btw even richard dawkins would agree there is a tiny tiny chance) and as well on the side to believe it was the promise of eternal happiness (gan eden or at least not gehinom) then that vs the other side of nothingness after death; the side with eternal anything will win bec its ETERNAL so by definition its worth the risk of going to that side bec the promise is forever so the risk is worth the return! so all the more so if its just one day of your life!”

    there is more to say on this topic but tell me what you think of this first

    ps. just a side point, if this does come from a touch of ocd nothing anyone will ever tell you will help you must be completely and rigorously honest with yourself and ask yourself what a rational 3rd person would make of this evidence that may be the only way

    Ben Levi

    Intellectually speaking I find the question to be quite ludicrous.

    Basically the question is,

    “I don’t believe in the concept of Yom Kippur so what should I do to keep Yom Kippur”?

    Like I said ridiculous.


    >> How about the 1.57 billion (23% of the world’s population)

    >> who believe in Islam? Or 2.2 billion Christians?

    These religions are based on Torah and include the Seven Noachite Mitzvot — all that is required from non–jews.


    Jewish source: “even though it takes a couple of minutes to show anyone that the Torah is G-d given.” Can you give us those couple of minutes here to prove it? I’ve always said that you cannot really prove that G-d exists or that the Torah was given by G-d. It has to be an internal belief – it must come from within. If it were so easy to prove – then what would be the big deal about believing it? This is why Hashem is basically “hidden”. We have to find Him. We can’t see him physically but we try to see him with our hearts. So what is your PROOF? I’m not asking in a cynical way, I’m really curious. Looking forward to your answer.

    Yungerman: I feel for you. It must be so hard. Let me ask you, do you believe in Hashem at all? Do you believe He exists? If so, why do you believe that the Torah might not have been given at Sinai. What makes you think a lot of things were made up by man? I’m asking out of true and sincere curiosity, not to chas v’shalom put you down. When and how did your thoughts start heading in this direction? Looking forward to your answer.

    Ben Levi

    BTW the 23% of the worlds population that are christians and the far more 2 plus billion that are Muslims all believe in the concept of Yom Kippur since they blieve in the “Old Testament” they just believe they superseded it or got it wrong depending which one.

    A widespread disbelief in Har Sinai in what is termed the “Developed World” is kind of a new “happening” starting about 250 years ago.

    Sort of like the Mabul, archeologists reveal a pretty widespread story amongst anient civiliztion with a core that revolved around the world being destroyed by a flood and one man being saved and saving the animals with him (ex. Thee Epic of Gilgamesh) it’s a recent post enlightment development that there are those who wish to dispute it.


    Secular Frummy: I specified a smart person who DOES believe so he/she can THEN discuss the matter.


    Ben Levi,

    There are houses that have been standing for more then 4200 years (when the mabul should have happened according to the Mesorah) There are trees that have been alive for longer then that. Some of the Pyramids are older then that. There are paintings that have been around for longer then that.

    These are just some of the problems with the Mabul story. There are many more.


    You have your reasons for staying frum.

    Another way of saying that, is that on some level being frum is meaningful to you.

    It shouldn’t be difficult then to figure out how Yom Kippur can be meaningful to you as well.


    lakewood001: If a tree (not a sapling) was created during the first week of creation, fully grown, with say, 100 xiphoid rings/layers, how can scientists be THE ONLY ONES WHO DETERMINE ITS AGE? So the alleged age of anything can’t be solely based on scientifc criteria. Do you agree?



    The tree is still alive. The Mabul should have knocked it down. There should be no trees standing from before the Mabul happened. Not to mention houses and cave paintings. Right?


    Lakewood001 – Are you saying the mabul didn’t happen? There was no Noach and the teiva and that whole story?


    I guess Lakewood001 knows something we don’t?

    Hey maybe s/he’s god! Maybe we should all go bow down to his sapling and pray and dance 100 times (signifying each of it’s rings)around that darn thing?

    Truthfully, If you question why don’t you ask a competent Rabbi who can advice on what you should do.

    It seems you are wavering and doubtful in your belief.

    Please don’t delude yourself that help in Judaism can come off the internet.

    I heard the Yeshiva Neve Zion has an amazing Rabbi “The Mash”, Rabbi Solomon, R’Milstein, R’Wallerstein, R’Klatko, R’Skaist. and I’m sure there are others who guide all Jews with their scholarship.


    oy1: you know that each ring signifies a year, right?


    eclipse: yes I studied Evolution.

    It’s horrible to say, but I gotta say I love atheists. They question and question and tend to get very defensive about their doubts (as though we religious folk never had doubts).

    Then when instructed to go speak to a Rabbi.

    They say well I studied did my religious search “G-d (Chas V”Shalom) ain’t there so I ain’t gonna believe no more!”

    This is based on a couple of atheists I know personally!

    Ben Levi

    Asking the question about trees is kind of old isn’t it?

    I did’nt really try to debate you about the accuracy of the Torah.

    See the last post we had about this you seemed to be trying to articulate Theory that the Torah was written at the time of Yoshia.

    The theory you articulated happens to one of four basic theories advanced by “bible Critics” the one you wrote about seemed to be the one advanced by Finkelstien.

    Do you know why there are four not one?

    Because the problems with each of them are so vast that it makes them seem silly. problems that make the questions of “tree rings” pale in comparison since it’s pretty easily understood that a0 there are plenty of ways explaining them (Hashem made the world grow back pretty quickly after the Mabul in an unnatural way amongst others)

    The one of the “emergence” of the torah at the time of Josia is acknowledged to be problematic because of several problems

    a) it is built around several pesukim in the Torah essentially saying that the Torah is littered with lies ch”v excluding those few lines.

    b) It fails to account for the dissapearence of the Cannanite tribes suddenly with no explanation.

    c) discounting the Mabul leaves no method of explanation how so many ancient cultures had a tradition of a Flood destroying the Earth with a single survivor that are uncannigly similar to the Mabul, even though these cultures seemingly had no contact with each other.

    d) there is an actual archeolgical find of a recording of Sanncherib’s (Taylors Prism, found by Col. R. Taylor)battles that seemingly exactly verifies the accuracy of the account in Tanach which preceaded the story of Josiah indicating that it was very real. In addition

    e) There is no logical explanation why the Torah records the “defeats” and failings of the the Jewish People in such great detail when the practice of all Kings at the time was to record a National History that included only triumphs.

    f) The more that is dug up the more is found to verify the accuracy of the Torah in a historical sense.

    Ex. 1)At one time it was thought the Torah speaking about the Hittite empire was a “myth” yet a hundred odd years ago the remnants of the Hittite empire were found and confirmed.

    2) The Toah repeatedly gives detailed lineages and archeologists have acknowledged repeatedly that the Historical record shows the names used were current only in the time period they were given but were cmpletley forgotten hundreds of years later making it hard to believe that the text using those names could have been written later.

    3) The theory is requires theat in a sense the Jewish people at the time of Josiah were small and not very literate in order for the hoax to be pulled off the proponents of the Theory claim David and Shlomo were in a sense “tribal Chieftans not Kings of Empires.However recent Historical finds have increasingly point to the extremley tenous possiblity of that.

    4) If Dovid HaMElech and Shlomo HaMElech were made up then there is no explanation why Nach goes into such great detail about aveiros they commited again something that was comletley contrary to the practice of the period.

    5) there is ample evidence of various events described in detail in the Nach such as the fall of Yericho. Yericho was acknowledged to have been found and the dig revealed a city that had been destroyed exactly as described in Yehoshua. True Kenyon claimed the dates were off however Wood has a host of reasons pointing as to why her dating methods were wrong (they were based on the absence of age specific pottery and radio-carbo testing has in fact verified Wood’s dating that the downfall occured in the proper time frame.

    To sum it up there is a whole host of problems that can only be rsolved by accepting the historicty of TaNach from an archeological sense there is very little that has ever been found to contest TaNach. What has been found repeatedly actually verifies the accuracy of TaNach most of the questions are more from lack of evidence the actual evidence against. However the amount unexplored is pretty astonishing there are tens of thousand of cuneform tablets that have been found and only a fraction that have been explained.



    Theres just one problem. The scientific method for dating things is very flawed. I’mno science buff but if you gGoogle this stuff you will find science forums that discuss how the dating system is flawed. I’m amazed how people will grasp at straws to discard their religion has has a proven mesorah for thousands of years. A religion that nobody denies is true. Like someone said above all religions spawned from Judaism and based their religion on Judaism. They all believe that the old testament which is our Torah is true. Listen if you don’t want to believe because you would rather eat pork and live with shiksas I understand where you are coming from but to say that Judaism is not logical and not historically true is basically silly if you have really done your research. This goes for the OP as well. If you want to believe in our religion the info is out there. There are entry of rabbanim who wrote books and gave shiurim on these topics. If you are too lazy to do the research and are ready to throw it away because of some sort silly thing you once heard in science class then think about what that says about you.


    Why doesn’t anyone answer lakewood001’s question? Don’t you ameratzim know the mishnah “Da Mah Lehashiv Leapikores?” Instead of telling anecdotal atheist stories that prove nothing, address his points head on. If you make a good case for frumkeit, you will earn many zechuyos needed esp. at this time.


    again you make good points and you are posting youre questions in the wrong places, there are many people who yopu can ask any question you like to, take 2 hours or 3 and sit down with___________ and ask trust me they have had harder scrutiny then youre questions and i dont mean that in a bad way but rabbi jonathen sacks had a debate on live TV with the worlds biggest atheist, rabbbi gottlieb has and still does argue with many philosophers in front of crowds as well as lawrence keleman, r. akiva tatz, r. jonathen riette, r.orlofsky, rabbi mechanic, r. noah wienberg a”h and many more NOBODY ON THIS SITE WILL HELP YOU you must be honest with yourself first and that takes people years so either do it or dont do it but dont be a wuss and continusly post youre personal conflicts to people you will never have to face and ppl whom you have no idea who they are ask someone who opens the floor to the entire graduating yale philosophy class for 2 hours to ask whatever they want on judaisim! what youre doing is cowardice and about as untruthfull to yourslef as you can get

    Rational Thinker

    Yungerman from Lakewood-

    As an atheist, it sounds to me like you ARE an atheist but can’t admit it to yourself yet. I’ve been there. I’m quite sure all religions are man-made as is Yom Kippur, of course. I go to shul for a short time for social reasons. While there I usually take a couple of minutes to reflect on my life, friends and family, and maybe to think about how I can improve myself and increase my contribution to the world. That’s about it.


    Telling someone questioning that they should speak to a Rabbi is an admission that you don’t have the answers. And I have news for you, none of these Rabbis are ever interested in having the discussion with an atheist whose knowledge goes beyond a high school student. I’ve approached quite a few of the most highly recommended kiruv/emunah Rabbis and none of them will talk to me once they see I have some knowledge.

    You can’t explain how there can be trees older than the flood and yet go on in blissful ignorance while attempting to put down atheists ? You should ask yourself why you do believe in the face of even a single question about the torah’s divinity which you can’t answer.

    Ben Levi

    Rational Thinker.

    You know that what you’re saying is really ludicorus, righ?

    Ihave you ever been to an Arachim Seminar in Isreal or how about Gateways or Discovery in the Us?

    Do you know who goes there?

    I’ve been there, there are people there with PhD’s and the like.

    Many of the presenters themselves are leading Scientists.

    Look up Dr. Andre Goldfingers resume.

    Or Dr. Akiva Tatz.

    These people actually specilize in debating those with knowledge.

    Ben Levi


    I’ve tried ansewering lakewood001’s questions.

    The last debate on these pages consisted of him asserting that there was something stated at the end of Sefer Melachim.

    I spent a week asking him to please qoute the exact posuk he was referring to.

    He could not.

    Which makes sense since the posuk does’nt exist.

    He was referring to a Theory popularized by some Bible Critics (which happens to have been proven wrong from basically every angle and the one who actually demolished it publicly is a non-jewish agnostic!)

    Part of that Theory consists of “re-interpeting” Melachim to say what it does’nt say. So basically anyone who actually learnt the Sefer knows it’s not there but if the primary source is Finkelstien and you never actually looked at the real words of the Posuk you can’t find it.

    Hance Lakewood001 is still claiming that in Melachim 23 it says something with no ability to produce the posuk that actually says it.


    1. You cannot prove God exists. Philosophy has well established this and all the arguments to the contrary are meant for those who do not understand why the arguments all fail.

    2. Anyone trying to show from Archaeology that there is evidence for the biblical accounts is generally limiting themselves to interpretations of the material given by a handful of “biblical archaeologists.” The majority of the time the claims made by these are based on ignoring the problematic evidence or are based on too little evidence. To understand what I am saying, go to Aish.com and find articles on Archaeology and then go do a web search for that same item and see if when all the evidence is added up it makes sense to conclude the way that Aish presents it. I have found it does not.

    3. The OP asked for help in approaching Yom Kippur from a standpoint of struggling with belief. He specifically asked not to get into proofs for and against religion as there are plenty of other threads here and in other places that have debated this issue a lot. If you want to be helpful, give him so inspiration to help get through Yom Kippur.


    Pray to Hashem for the clarity and wisdom to get through this difficult time in your life. You stated that you’re not an atheist, but that you’re not sure you believe in Torah miSinai and therefore have trouble doing teshuvah for aveiros that “may not exist”. So focus on teshuvah for bein adam l’chaveiro, as WolfishMusings suggested, and as for bein adam l’makom, focus on building or rebuilding your relationship with Hashem. Ask him to send you the guidance and support you truly need. He is your Father. Just be honest with him and daven to Him in your own words if you can’t connect with the nusach.

    Much hatzlacha. I will be thinking of you and hope you emerge from this trial stronger than before. Don’t let the haters get you down.

    on the ball

    Mods: I urge you to shut this thread down. The Halachah forbids the dissemination of Kefirah and Apikorsus and unfortunately a few posts contain exactly these.

    If someone has genuine concerns regarding Emunah then of course it is necessary to voice these and for a competent person to engage them in a frank discussion with the common aim of resolving the issues.

    However the forum for this should surely not be a ‘Yeshiva World’ website that religious, and possibly vulnerable people, are likely to stumble upon and thereby possibly have his or her Emunah shaken. That small shaking could develop and then eventually culminate in denial of the Torah and non-observance of Mitvos ch’v.

    I am unaware whether or not YWN operates with the guidance of Daas Torah but I have no doubt that any Orthodox Rabbi would agree with my concern.

    You could be indirectly responsible for generations of Jews that do not keep the Torah. Do you really want that on your heads?


    Ben Levi,

    Why don’t you just answer my questions on the Mabul story?

    I answered just everything else you brought up in the “why i am also still frum” thread. I’m not going through it again here. Anyone can read it there.

    I look forward to your answers

    jewish source


    The OP requested that this not be a forum to discuss this.He was looking for a solution for a problem which I gave him.


    Rational Thinker:

    Nice job! I appreciate a good argument and but I can’t say you play your cards too well.

    You question my unwavering belief in G-d and ask how can I who hasn’t answered for the fundamentals. Be ever so knowledgeable in attempting to refute him.

    I for one haven’t answered a darn question.

    So here you have it, I am very astute and well aware of the fact that atheists are intellectual seekers.

    They happen to be wonderful people. I happen to have cultivated a friendship with a self-proclaimed Atheist. They want to find truth and are very motivated in their agenda. (READ: AGENDA!!)

    The clearest and most apropos response is to speak to a Rabbi.

    Personally, I have studied a multitude of text related to the fundamentals of Judaism.

    My recommendation is given not as a cop out rather as a conduit for further growth and introspection. (READ: I don’t know the source or basis of his atheism)

    I hope this message goes to whom it was intended. I truly pray that your Yom Kipper be a day of atonement and self introspection.

    For the High Holy Days; I would suggest to go to a synagogue which has a scholarly Rabbi and operatic Cantor who will inspire throughout Yom Kipper.

    We all need forgiveness, whether we believe or not!!! (that’s not from me that’s quoted from a legitimate atheist!)


    Im not going to comment on the back and forth here because its not going to help you.

    My advice is to use that day to ask Hashem to show you the real truth. You dont have to daven the whole thing or if you want to keep on asking Hashem to show you the truth and to have good emunah. Get a book that proves the Torah is divine and read it the whole day.

    Avram in MD

    Yungerman from Lakewood,

    so I can’t bring myself to do tshuva for aveiros that I do not believe in.

    What do I do?

    Your problem is not isolated to people with doubts – it is a universal issue. When a person sins, most of the time he is not thinking “heh heh heh, I know I’m doing wrong but I’m doing it anyway!” Usually there are two conflicting desires within a person (I should give the $5 in my pocket to that poor person, but I really want to use it to buy some french fries later), a noble desire and a base desire, and the person rationalizes a way to fulfill the base desire, sometimes even convincing himself that he’s doing the right thing (the poor person will just probably buy alcohol with it anyway). So, in a way, at the time of the commission of the aveira, the person “does not believe in the aveira” as you said.

    So how should you “deal” with Yom Kippur? The same way that all Jews should. Take some time to examine your actions (and the motivations for your actions) during the past year and decide whether all of those actions reflect the type of person you would like to be. Usually when we pare down our rationalizations, the true, base motivations for a lot of our actions can make us feel embarrassed. Feel regret for these failures, but tell yourself and Hashem that they do not reflect who you are. Think of something realistic you can do during the upcoming year that will help you to come closer to being the person you truly want to be. Pray for the time, health, and ability to do this work.

    Please G-d I should be able to do all of this myself as well and that we will all have a year of sweet goodness.



    You don’t have kashis you have teirutzim. Famous vort of Rav Chaim Brisker.


    One can pray in their own words saying that they would like to grow but are struggling and need some clarity. And pray please help us Hashem to figure things out so we can move forward in our growth.

    There’s a good video By Rabbi Keleman called ‘A Rational Approach to the Torah’s Divine Origin.” On simpletoremember.com

    Ben Levi

    Lakewood 001

    I have stated stated pretty clearly.

    You seem to have never learnt Melachim and you do not know it.

    As such you are making up things that it does not say at all.

    You denied it.

    I asked you to please give a word for word quatation of the exact verse you are referring to.

    Several weeks later you still have’nt.

    As for the Taylor Prism about Sancheriv.

    You really should read more then straight Finkelstien especially since Dever (an agnostic basically demolished him in public)

    The prism is blank as to what occured to Chizkiyahu.

    Bible Critics conjecture that that is what happened.

    It’s kine of foolish to make up a verse in Melachim that anyone in Melachim can see does not exist.

    And even more foolish to make up a whole part of an acknowledeged archeological find that doesn’t exist.

    BTW the question about trees from the Mabul is pretty stupid since the Torah itself indicates that there were trees that survived the Mabul (go back and read how Noach came out of the Teva).

    YW Moderator-127

    Moderation on this site is not set up for the types of discussions you are interested in pursuing. I am closing this thread.

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