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Home » Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur: A Basic Overview

Submitted by on November 4, 2005 – 8:14 pmNo Comment | 4,061 views

A Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur falls on the tenth day of the year, precisely eight days after Rosh Hashanah. The first ten days of the year are called Yemai Teshuvah (days of repentance). During these days we continue to repent for our past shortcomings and resolve to do better in the future. The last of these ten days is Yom Kippur.

Our sages tell us that on Rosh Hashanah G-d inscribes our future into his heavenly book. On Yom Kippur he seals the inscription with the mark of His signature. Our sages tell us that G-d’s signature is the element of truth for what is inscribed on this day will truly and certainly occur.

Until Yom Kippur we still have the opportunity to improve our verdict for the coming year. Once Yom Kippur arrives G-d applies his seal of truth and truth can never change or be compromised.

It is a Mitzvah to fast on Yom Kippur. Most of Yom Kippur is spent at the synagogue in prayer and supplication. We take advantage of our last opportunity to intercede before G-d and beseech him for a healthy and good year.

It is interesting to note that the day is called Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) not Yom Din (day of judgement). On this day G-d offers atonement rather then judgement. This holiday is more about repentance, than it is about sentencing.

In the evening, after Yom Kippur, we gather for a festive holiday meal. We thank G-d for the good year that we are confident he has granted and enjoy the holiday atmosphere. On this evening it is customary to begin preparations for the upcoming Holiday of Sukkos.
Laws of Yom Kippur

The Five prohibitions of Yom are:

  1. Eating Drinking
  2. Wearing leather shoes
  3. Bathing for pleasure
  4. Anointing for pleasure
  5. Intimate relations

Order off Yom Kippur Services

Yom Kippur Evening – Kol Nidrei Service

In the year 1642 the entire Jewish community was expelled from Spain. Many Jewish families converted to Christianity for outward appearances while secretly continuing to practice their Jewish religion. On Yom Kippur eve, they would gather at the Synagogue and pray to G-d, asking him to annul their Christian vows and promises. It is this prayer that has been chosen as the beginning of the Yom Kippur service, traditionally a time for intense introspection and a private accounting before G-d.

Yom Kippur Morning and Afternoon Services

Yom Kippur means Day of Atonement. All adults age 13 and over fast throughout the day and spend it mostly at the synagogue in prayer and supplication. The prayers on Yom Kippur are tearful and emotional, they grow in intensity as they move along until a climactic crescendo is reached toward the end. During services on this day we recite the Yizkor in memory of our departed loved ones. It has become customary in recent years to include a memorial prayer for all Jewish martyrs, especially those who perished in the holocaust. A prayer is also customarily added for the brave young men and women who have given their lives in defense of Israel, our Homeland.

Yom Kippur Neilah Service

The Neilah service is the last prayer of Yom Kippur and is therefore the holiest. As the gates of heaven close for the day we beseech the Almighty to accept our prayers and publicly proclaim our faith in him. Toward the end of the day, we blow one sound from the Shofar proclaiming that we have atoned for our sins and are certain that we have been granted a happy and healthy new year.