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Overview of the Day before Yom Kippur's Observances

Overview of the Day before Yom Kippur's Observances

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Preparations for Yom Kippur begin early in the morning with the kaparot (atonement) rite. This consists of waving a chicken over one's head and reciting a traditional text. The chicken is ritually slaughtered and given to charity. Click here for more about this ceremony.

On this day the primary mitzvah is to eat and drink in abundance. Two meals – festive affairs – are eaten, one earlier in the day, and one just prior to the onset of Yom Kippur. In many communities it is customary to eat kreplach – small dumplings filled with ground meat. Click here for more about the pre-Yom Kippur feasting.

In between the prayer services and preparing and eating the two meals, there is a lot to squeeze in:

  • Yom Kippur erases all the sins we have committed "before G‑d"—but not the sins we may have committed against our fellow man. So we need to approach anyone whom we may have wronged and beg their forgiveness before Yom Kippur. Click here to read more about this.
  • All immerse in a mikvah (ritual pool) on the day before Yom Kippur. See here for more information.
  • At some point during the day it is customary to ask for and receive lekach (sweet cake). See here for the reasons behind this.

Minchah (the afternoon prayer service) is prayed relatively early to allow ample time to eat the final meal. Before Minchah, it is customary for all men to receive symbolic "lashes" as a humbling reminder to repent, as well as for everyone to give charity generously – a great source of merit. Click here for more about the afternoon prayer service and surrounding activities.

Then we partake of the final meal. One must stop eating prior to candle-lighting time. Immediately before the fast begins, it is customary for parents to bless their children. Click here for more about the final meal and the traditional text for blessing the children.

Then, 18 minutes before sunset, women and girls light candles, and the fast begins. Click here for more details.

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Discussion (3)
October 7, 2014
RE: The Day Before Yom Kippur
The chicken is just a chicken. It will end up in a kosher pot, and possibly be served with matzah balls and dill. So what does it have to do with us? Two things.

a. The worth of the chicken is given to charity. And yes, giving charity is very potent. The sages tell us that "charity saves from death."

b. Seeing the soon-to-be-soup chicken and realizing how fragile life is serves as a very visible wake-up call. It drives home how important it is that we make the right choices this Yom Kippur.
Menachem Posner
Skokie
October 3, 2014
Stop Killing Chickens and all animals,
Stop killing innocent animals, this can still be done without killing anything.

Jews have been hated for thousands of years, let's stop any acts of violence and start getting better karma. Energy is real, we need to keep good energy always and lead by example to the World.
Anonymous
New york
October 2, 2014
Day Before Yom Kippur
I would not want that chicken after it goes over your head. What is this all about? What does a chicken do to you? Does it have any power to save you? Or is it the Almighty G-d who can save you? I am confused. Is this anywhere in Torah or Sacred books? Thank for your reflection before answering this comment.
Anonymous
USA
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