Yom Kippur

Data/Images/yom_kippur_s.jpgYom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר or יום הכיפורים‎, IPA: [‘jom ki’pur]) is the tenth day of the month of Tishrei, also known as Day of Atonement and its one of the holiest days of the year.

According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person's fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to "seal" the verdict. During the Days of Awe, a Jew tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God (bein adam leMakom) and against other human beings (bein adam lechavero). The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt (Vidui). At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers oneself absolved by God.

Traditional observance of this holy day is with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days (or sometimes "the Days of Awe").

Five additional prohibitions are traditionally observed:

  1. No eating and drinking
  2. No wearing of leather shoes
  3. No bathing or washing
  4. No anointing oneself with perfumes or lotions
  5. No marital relations

Refraining from these symbolically represents a return to a pristine state, which is the theme of the day.

Virtually all Jewish holidays involve a ritual feast, but since Yom Kippur involves fasting, Jewish law require one to eat a large and festive meal on the afternoon before Yom Kippur, after the Mincha (afternoon) prayer.

Total abstention from food and drink usually begins 20 minutes before sundown and ends after nightfall the following day. Although the fast is required of all healthy adults, it is waived in the case of certain medical conditions.

Wearing white clothing, for men a Kittel, is traditional to symbolize one’s purity on this day. Many Orthodox men immerse themselves in a mikvah on the day before Yom Kippur.

Traditionally, Yom Kippur is considered the date on which Moses received the second set of Ten Commandments. It occurred following the completion of the second 40 days of instructions from God. At this same time, the Israelites were granted atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf; hence, its designation as the Day of Atonement.

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