- Yom Kippur in Scripture
- The holiest and most somber day of the year
- The time of the Final Verdict (Tishri 10)
- The thirty-ninth day of the return to Adonai is a festive day
- Reduced Selichot
Yom Kippur in Scripture:
Scripture Reading #1:
והיתה לכם לחקת עולם בחדש השביעי בעשור לחדש תענו את־נפשתיכם וכל־מלאכה לא תעשו האזרח והגר הגר בתוככם׃ כי־ביום הזה יכפר עליכם לטהר אתכם מכל חטאתיכם לפני ה’ תטהרו׃ שבת שבתון היא לכם ועניתם את־נפשתיכם חקת עולם׃ וכפר הכהן אשר־ימשח אתו ואשר ימלא את־ידו לכהן תחת אביו ולבש את־בגדי הבד בגדי הקדש׃ וכפר את־מקדש הקדש ואת־אהל מועד ואת־המזבח יכפר ועל הכהנים ועל־כל־עם הקהל יכפר׃ והיתה־זאת לכם לחקת עולם לכפר על־בני ישראל מכל־חטאתם אחת בשנה ויעש כאשר צוה ה’ את־משה׃
וְהָיְתָה לָכֶם לְחֻקַּת עֹולָם בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי בֶּֽעָשֹׂור לַחֹדֶשׁ תְּעַנּוּ אֶת־נַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶם וְכָל־מְלָאכָה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ הָֽאֶזְרָח וְהַגֵּר הַגָּר בְּתֹוכְכֶֽם׃ כִּֽי־בַיֹּום הַזֶּה יְכַפֵּר עֲלֵיכֶם לְטַהֵר אֶתְכֶם מִכֹּל חַטֹּאתֵיכֶם לִפְנֵי ה’ תִּטְהָֽרוּ׃ שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתֹון הִיא לָכֶם וְעִנִּיתֶם אֶת־נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם חֻקַּת עֹולָֽם׃ וְכִפֶּר הַכֹּהֵן אֲשֶׁר־יִמְשַׁח אֹתֹו וַאֲשֶׁר יְמַלֵּא אֶת־יָדֹו לְכַהֵן תַּחַת אָבִיו וְלָבַשׁ אֶת־בִּגְדֵי הַבָּד בִּגְדֵי הַקֹּֽדֶשׁ׃ וְכִפֶּר אֶת־מִקְדַּשׁ הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְאֶת־אֹהֶל מֹועֵד וְאֶת־הַמִּזְבֵּחַ יְכַפֵּר וְעַל הַכֹּהֲנִים וְעַל־כָּל־עַם הַקָּהָל יְכַפֵּֽר׃ וְהָֽיְתָה־זֹּאת לָכֶם לְחֻקַּת עֹולָם לְכַפֵּר עַל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִכָּל־חַטֹּאתָם אַחַת בַּשָּׁנָה וַיַּעַשׂ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה’ אֶת־מֹשֶֽׁה׃
“All this shall be an eternal law for you. Each year on the 10th (עָשׂוֹר) day of the 7th (שְׁבִיעִי) month you must fast and not do any work. This is true of both the native-born and the proselyte who joins you. This is because on this day you shall have all your sins atoned (כָּפַר), so that you will be cleansed. Before Adonai (the LORD) you will be cleansed of all your sins. It is a Shabbat (שַׁבָּת) of Shabbaton (שַׁבָּתוֹן) to you, and [a day upon which] you must fast. This is a law for all time. The priest who is anointed and installed to be High Priest in his ancestors’ place shall make this atonement, wearing the sacred vestments of white linen. He shall be the one to make atonement (כָּפַר) in the holy inner sanctuary, in the Communion Tent (אֹהֶל מֹועֵד) and on the altar (הַמִּזְבֵּחַ). The atonement (כָּפַר) that he makes shall be for the priests and for the people of the community. All this shall be for you as a law for all time, so that the Israelites will be able to gain atonement (כָּפַר) for their sins once each year. And just as Adonai commanded Moses, so he did” (Leviticus 16:29-34).
There are 6 other scriptures (7 total) that are related to the observance of the Day of Atonement:
Scripture #2 – Leviticus 23:26-32.
Scripture #3. – Numbers 29:7-11.
Scripture #4. – Exodus 30:10.
Scripture #5. – Exodus 30:12.
Scripture #6. – Book of Jonah.
Scripture #7. – Leviticus 16:30.
The holiest and most somber day of the year:
Yom Kippur is also known as the Day of Atonement. Its central themes are atonement, repentance, confession, and forgiveness. The holy day is traditionally observed with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known as the High Holy Days or the ten days of Yamim Nora’im (Days of Awe). Yom Kippur is considered the holiest of the Jewish holy days.
If a Yehudi (Jew) makes it to synagogue only once a year, this is the most important time.
As one of the most culturally significant Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur is observed by many secular Yehudim (Jews) who may not observe other holidays. Many secular Jews attend synagogue on Yom Kippur. For many secular Jews the High Holy Days are the only recurring times of the year in which they attend synagogue—causing synagogue attendance to soar.
Eating, drinking, bathing, anointing, wearing leather shoes and having sexual relations are all forbidden on this day.
There is absolutely no work permitted. In the synagogue, the Yom Kippur service begins in the evening with special prayers called Kol Nidre (כל נדרי), meaning “all my vows.” These prayers ask for the annulment of all vows which the people were unable to keep as a recognition of their human frailty.
The Kol Nidre is chanted by the cantor in a somber and deeply moving melody. In some communities, the rabbi, cantor and others may wear a kittel (קיטל), a special white garment, reminiscent of the garment the priest would have worn in Temple times.
A white satin parochet (פרוכת), the curtain which adorns the ark in the synagogue that mimics the curtain which separated the sanctuary from the Holy of Holies (קֹדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים) in the Temple, is hung in place of the heavy velvet one used at other times.
The time of the Final Verdict (Tishri 10):
Yom Kippur is considered to be the time when the final verdict is made for each human life regarding whether their name will be included in the Book of Life throughout the upcoming year (following the final service of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement). The Yom Kippur observance includes the following:
Observance #1. Fasting for twenty-four hours (from sundown to sundown).
Observance #2. Abstinence from labor.
Observance #3. Denial of all physical appetites.
Observance #4. The denial of all physical appetites honors the seriousness (sober attitude) of the holy day.
The thirty-ninth day of the return to Adonai is a festive day
Beginning Rosh Chodesh Elul (ראש החודש אלול-the New Moon of the sixth ecclesiastical month of the Jewish calendar) the focus of the people of Israel turns to repentance.
Every morning, at the conclusion of the Shacharit (שחרית) service, the faithful recite “L’David Hashem Ori,” (לְדָוִד ה’ אֹורִי- Psalm 27) which contains allusions to this special time of year and the process of repentance. To awaken the people from their slumber, the Shofar is sounded.
Beginning on Motzei Shabbat (מוצאי שבת) prior to Rosh Hashanah, the people of Israel commence the daily recital of Selichos in the pre-dawn period, continuing throughout the Ten Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) and concluding on Yom HaKippur. Only three of these forty days are celebrated as yomim tov, as festive days:
1. Rosh Hashanah (Tishri 1),
2. Yom Teruah (Tishri 2), and
3. Erev Yom Kippur (Tishri 9).
Throughout the Ten Days of Repentance leading up to Yom Kippur the amount of Selichot recited daily is increased. On Erev Yom Kippur the number of Selichot recited is decreased.