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Yom Kippur Prayers

Insights on Selected Prayers

Brief insights on various sections of the Yom Kippur prayers.

Kol Nidrei
In medieval Spain, Jews were forced at sword-point to swear that they would abandon Judaism. Once a year, they would gather and formally cancel any such vows, past or future.
Ki Anu Amecha
It’s not just that asking the billionaire is impractical. It’s inappropriate. What relationship does he have with you that warrants your advances?
Al Chet
Since at this moment we are full of remorse and are confessing our sins, G-d forgives us. What happened in the past and what may happen in the future is irrelevant.
Why does one strike his chest over his heart with his hand when reciting the confession? Why is it customary to start each verse in this prayer with a lyrical melody -- wouldn’t it be more appropriate to cry and wail?
Shema Koleinu
“Father, if you don’t recognize my face because of the change in me, surely you recognize my voice. My voice has not changed.”
Uteshuvah Utefilah Utzedakah
Why is it necessary to explain that charity means money -- isn’t it well known?
Today the Temple does not yet stand again in Jerusalem, but there is a Temple in the heart of every Jew. Each one of us, man or woman, is the High Priest in our own Temple within.
Umelavin Oto
The seclusion of the High Priest spent away from his home was not merely a preventive measure lest he become contaminated, but an integral detail of the Yom Kippur services.
Veyom Tov Haya Oseh
Some say the High Priest made the feast that night and others say it was made on the following day. What is the basis for their views?
Nisraf Vesefer Torah Imo
Rabbi Chananya ben Teradyon's body was wrapped in a Torah Scroll and consumed by fire. While he was experiencing excruciating pain, his students asked him, “Our teacher, what do you see?"
Nisraf Vesefer Torah Imo
The SS soldiers were horsing around. "Pipe down," Bronia admonished, "you don't want to be waking up a future soldier."
Vehotziu Et Rabi Akiva
When Josef was sold, only nine brothers were present. But the Roman King -- counting G-d as a co-conspirator -- killed ten Sages.
Mi Yaaleh
Before a child leaves the womb to enter the world, an oath is administered to him: “Be a righteous person and not a wicked one.”
Beyodim Ubelo Yodim
The first time he committed a transgression, he was aware that he did something wrong and felt remorse. However, after the sin was repeated a few times, it became a habitual way of life.
Ata Noten Yad
It is only upon G-d’s advice that the sinner should do repentance and he will be pardoned.
Veotzarcho Hatov
The punctuation in the prayer needs adjustment: Since man does not know what is really good for him, we implore G-d that, “The treasure which is good for us You should open.”
Hashem Hu HaElokim
As the Neila service (ultimate prayer of Yom Kippur) draws to its conclusion, we engage in a group ritual simultaneously thought-provoking and inspiring.
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