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Why We Wear White on Yom Kippur

Why We Wear White on Yom Kippur


Many have a custom of wearing white clothing on Yom Kippur in emulation of the ministering angels. Some people wear a kittel, a white robe worn over the clothing. Because it is similar to the burial shroud, it serves to remind us of man's mortality and the need for teshuvah. The kittel should not be decorated with gold, for gold recalls the sin of the golden calf and that which was a source of prosecution for the Jew cannot be transformed into a defender. It is permissible, however, to decorate the kittel with silver, for silver is close to white, symbolizing purity and mercy.

It is a tradition in all Jewish communities to wear a large tallit on Yom Kippur evening. The white of the tallit also serves to suggest purity and mercy.

The story is told of a great righteous man who stood before the congregation one Yom Kippur eve, and addressed his fellow Jews, who were all clad in white garments and wrapped in their white tallitot.

My brothers and sisters, children of Israel! Take to heart that it is in white garments like these we are wearing now, that we shall ascend to the World to Come to be judged and give our accounting before the King of all kings, the Holy One, blessed is He.

Let us then imagine that we are standing in this clothing before the Throne of Glory to be judged and give our final accounting. We should have true remorse, for one who stands before the Throne of Glory is truly remorseful. But, my brothers and sisters, repentance does not avail after death-only now does it avail! Let us truly regret all our sins and accept upon ourselves that we shall sin no more, and let us ask the King who grants forgiveness that He grant us forgiveness and atonement.

Excerpted from: The Book of Our Heritage. Published and copyright by Feldheim Publications.
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1000 characters remaining Staff via October 14, 2015

Wearing white Yes, those who have that custom wear white the entire day. Reply

Anonymous Canada September 23, 2015

Wearing white during Yom Kippur You wear white Yom Kippur eve and also the following morning? Reply Staff via July 27, 2015

To Chana Yes, women do wear white on Yom Kippur. Reply

Chana Florida July 25, 2015

Do women wear white as well Reply

Anonymous London, UK September 24, 2012

Wearing a kittel It is customary for married men to wear a kittel from the second yom kippur after their marriage. Reply

Llandon Ross September 18, 2012

When do You start wearing a kittel What age do boys/men start wearing a kittel Reply

jackie yaffe kfar saba, israel September 18, 2007

weaing white on Yom Kippur Beautiful explanation of a custom I knew of but did not know exactly why Reply

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