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Compiled by Rabbi Pinchas Allouche


The Eve of Yom Kippur

On the eve of Yom Kippur, we eat two festive meals, to demonstrate our faith and confidence in G-d's mercy. At the second and final meal, one should eat only light foods such as plain cooked chicken and chicken soup. One should not drink intoxicating beverages, for were he to become drunk, his prayers would be an abomination. It is also customary not to eat fish at this meal. When reciting the Grace After Meals, one should have in mind that he may drink until the onset of the fast.

On the eve of Yom Kippur it is also a custom to perform the kapparot (atonement) service.  The Kapparot is performed with roosters, fish or money that should immediately go to Tzedakah, charity. The prayer begins with the verse "bnai-adam" (See prayer book). This custom is to evoke sincere repentance through the thought that a similar fate as that awaiting the fowl might be due to us because of our sins, but for G-d's mercy to forgive us upon our true repentance. After the ceremony the fowl is sent to the ritual slaughterer, and the meat, or the value of it, is given to the poor. This custom may be observed also with money, and the money that is used is then given to the poor.

It is customary to light memorial candles before candle lighting.

On the day before Yom Kippur, the afternoon service is usually prayed early in the afternoon to leave ample time for the pre-fast meal. During the afternoon prayers, the Al Chet confession prayer is recited, enumerating the sins we may have done throughout the year, knowingly or unknowingly, and requesting G-d's forgiveness.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur atones for sins against G-d, but not for wrongdoings between man and man. It is therefore important, on the day before Yom Kippur, to apologize and seek forgiveness from friends, relatives, and acquaintances, to heal any ill feelings which may have arisen. Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year, one that G-d chose to be His day of forgiveness. G-d is the father of the Jewish nation, and we are His children. Therefore, the forgiveness we seek from Him, and will subsequently receive, stems from a sense of boundless love and the connection a child has with his parents, which transcends any situation or behavior. What is required of us is to return to Him, to relate to Him, and to do His will, which He related to us in the Torah. It is required that we admit our wrong doings, ask for forgiveness, and accordingly resolve firmly to become loyal to G-d; to heed His will, study His Torah and accept upon ourselves to begin to do at least one more mitzvah, through which we relate to Him and fulfill His wishes every day.

On Yom Kippur, there is a Biblical commandment to 'afflict' ourselves, therefore it is prohibited to eat or drink. Women over 12 years old and men over 13, must fast. If one is physically unable to fast for health reason, consult a Rabbi. In addition, this commandment includes abstention from wearing leather shoes, bathing, marital relations and the use of body lotions creams etc.

Customs of Yom Kippur

An age-old Jewish custom for this day is that of parents blessing their children with the Priestly benediction: "May G-d bless you and guard you... May G-d shine His countenance upon you and be gracious to you... May G-d turn His face toward you, and grant you peace." It is also customary to say: "May G-d make you like Efrayim and Menashe" -for a son, or, "May G-d make you like Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, and Leah" -for a daughter. Click HERE for the full version.

It is also customary not to wear gold jewelry, as gold is reminiscent of the sin of the Golden Calf, and on the Day of Judgment, we do not want to "remind" the Prosecutor of our past sins.

Thu, May 23 2024 15 Iyyar 5784