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What is Yom Kippur?

What is Yom Kippur?

The holiest day of the year. Fasting and atonement, solemnity and joy . . .

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Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year—the day on which we are closest to G‑d and to the quintessence of our own souls. It is the Day of Atonement—“For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G‑d” (Leviticus 16:30).

For nearly twenty-six hours—from several minutes before sunset on 9 Tishrei to after nightfall on 10 Tishrei—we “afflict our souls”: we abstain from food and drink, do not wash or anoint our bodies, do not wear leather footwear, and abstain from marital relations.

Before Yom Kippur we perform the Kaparot atonement service; we request and receive honey cake, in acknowledgement that we are all recipients in G‑d’s world, and in prayerful hope for a sweet and abundant year; eat a festive meal; immerse in a mikvah; and give extra charity. In the late afternoon we eat the pre-fast meal, following which we bless our children, light a memorial candle as well as the holiday candles, and go to the synagogue for the Kol Nidrei service.

In the course of Yom Kippur we hold five prayer services: Maariv, with its solemn Kol Nidrei service, on the eve of Yom Kippur; Shacharit—the morning prayer, which includes a reading from Leviticus followed by the Yizkor memorial service; Musaf, which includes a detailed account of the Yom Kippur Temple service; Minchah, which includes the reading of the Book of Jonah; and Neilah, the “closing of the gates” service at sunset. We say the Al Chet confession of sins eight times in the course of Yom Kippur, and recite Psalms every available moment.

The day is the most solemn of the year, yet an undertone of joy suffuses it: a joy that revels in the spirituality of the day and expresses the confidence that G‑d will accept our repentance, forgive our sins, and seal our verdict for a year of life, health and happiness. The closing Neilah service climaxes in the resounding cries of “Hear O Israel . . . G‑d is one.” Then joy erupts in song and dance (a Chabad custom is to sing the lively “Napoleon’s March”), followed by a single blast of the shofar, followed by the proclamation, “Next year in Jerusalem.” We then partake of a festive after-fast meal, making the evening after Yom Kippur a yom tov (festival) in its own right.

About the artist: Sarah Kranz has been illustrating magazines, webzines and books (including five children’s books) since graduating from the Istituto Europeo di Design, Milan, in 1996. Her clients have included The New York Times and Money Marketing Magazine of London.
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Discussion (110)
December 7, 2014
what does the picture potray about yom kippur
dan
ind
October 19, 2014
Anonymous
The o is omitted out of respect for the name of the Lord, not because of Yom Kippur.
Anonymous
Prescott, AR
October 14, 2014
Why is the "o" In GOD omitted in this article ? Does it have something to do with YOM KIPPUR? Please educate me. Thanks!
Anonymous
October 13, 2014
you realize its spelled god right?
What is up with this spelling. Are we so afraid to have faith in today's world that we cant even spell out anything to do with religion?
thisguy
October 4, 2014
Thank you for your comments and prayers. It enriched me immensely...
Estela m.
October 3, 2014
I'm thankful for Yom Kippur because it helps me to focus on forgiving others and asking for forgiveness, too. Fearing G-d and repentance is very important. I have much to think about and pray about.
Anonymous
Northwest
October 3, 2014
why don't you spell out the word God?
Anonymous
October 2, 2014
Why fast? Hunger will just distract you from repentance.
Anonymous
Anonymous
October 2, 2014
Yom Kippur
This is the Holiday when we should truly fear G-d, since this is the moment we will be held accountable for our sins and justice will be served. Prayer is helpful but the solution is to be righteous every day all year round. May Hashem have mercy on those that need it. Shana Tova.
Anonymous
Boca Raton, Fl
theshul.org
October 2, 2014
Why do say we "afflict our souls'?. By abstaining from food, drink etc. we are afflicting our bodies! Perhaps "freeing" our souls would be for correct.
Eli Singer
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