The sinner lifted his shirt and recited the confession. A court clerk pressed him against the tree pole and began flogging him with a special whip. The three judges declared, "May your evil be lifted and your sin atoned." Only a mobile phone ringtone reminded all present that the year is in fact 2010.
Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak, who heads the Shofar organization for the distribution of Judaism, has been waging a war against religious singers who perform to an integrated audience of both men and women, and in the spirit of the Ten Days of Repentance has taken the campaign one step further.
On Wednesday, Yitzhak and other rabbis conducted a rare ceremony in which they flogged Erez Yechiel, a newly religious singer who was seeking atonement for various religious offences he made in the past.
Rabbis Yitzhak and Benzion Mutzafi together with a third person formed a court which would carry out the punishment. The event was documented on video and has been uploaded to the Shofar organization's website.
Rabbi Yitzhak's religious court (photo from Shofar organization's website)
The clip shows Rabbi Mutzafi explaining the need for the special form of atonement, saying that many sinners, including artists who lead men and women to dance in public, have no place in the afterlife and must be banished by the court.
He further explained that the mekubalim used to subject themselves to flagellation during the Ten Days of Repentance for the purpose of atonement. He presented a whip made of ox and donkey skin and instructed to flog Yechiel 39 times while alluding to various Kabbalah issues. "He is receiving a new soul," Rabbi Mutzafi said.
Yechiel was filmed saying, "I hereby subject myself to 39 floggings for my sins from the day I was born and until this very day. May these floggings serve as atonement and lift from me sins, evils and crimes and I shall be clean and pure in this world and the next."
Rabbi Mutzafi then read out to Yechiel the confession which is recited during Yom Kippur and during the death of a person. He burst in tears and said "When judgment is made down here, there is no judgment up there."
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