Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for the Jews and it is one of the most culturally significant and the most sacred Jewish holidays. It is also known as Day of Atonement and Repentance and it is the tenth day of the Tishrei month and also regarded as the “Sabbath of Sabbaths”. It completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora’im (“Days of Awe”). Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25 hours period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.
According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book known as the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah and waits till Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict. During the Days of Awe, a Jew tries to amend the behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings. This day is set aside for public and private petitions and confessions (Vidui or Viduy) of guilt because community and unity are an important part of Jewish Life, the confessions are said in the plural (We are guilty). The confessions serve to help reflect on ones misdeeds and to confess them verbally is part of the formal repentance in asking G-d’s forgiveness. At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers oneself absolved by God.
The Yom Kippur prayer service includes several unique aspects. One is the actual number of prayer services. Yom Kippur has five prayer services Ma’ariv, Shacharit, Musaf, Mincha, and Ne’ilah which means evening, morning, additional, afternoon and closing prayer respectively. The prayer services also include a unique prayer dedicated to the special Yom Kippur avodah (service) of the Kohen Gadol in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
On Rosh Hashanah the God Almighty has judged most of mankind and has recorded his judgment in the Book of Life. But he has given a 10 day reprieve. On Yom Kippur these 10 days of reprieve ends and the Book of Life is closed and sealed. Those who have repented for their sins are granted a good and happy New Year. The day before Yom Kippur is reserved for asking forgiveness for broken promises between people, as. On Yom Kippur day Jewish people ask forgiveness for promises broken to God
Yom Kippur is a day of doing NOTHING. Eating and drinking, Anointing with perfumes or lotions, Marital relations, Washing and Wearing leather shoes are the 5 Prohibitions of Yom Kippur as per the Customs or Minhagim as it is believed that to fast on Yom Kippur is to emulate the angels in heaven, who do not eat, drink, or wash. As per the Talmud the person “who eats on the ninth of Tishri (and fasts on the tenth) , it is as if he had fasted both the ninth and tenth.” Prayer is also down played so that Jews can concentrate on eating and preparing for the fast.
On the eve of Yom Kippur the community joins at the synagogue. Men put on prayer shawls. Then as the night falls the cantor begins the “Kol Nidre” for 3 times. It emphasizes the importance in keeping vows, as violating an oath is one of the worst sins. At the last hour of Yom Kippur a service called “Ne’ila” (Neilah) offers a final opportunity for repentance. It is the only service of the year during which the doors to the Ark (where the Torah scrolls are stored) remain open from the beginning to end of the service, signifying that the gates of Heaven are open at this time.
Yom Kippur 2012 Dates :
In 2012, Yom Kippur will begin in the evening of Tuesday, 25 September 2012, and ends in the evening of Wednesday, 26 September 2012.
Other Jewish Festival :
|Rosh HaShanah||Yom Kippur|
|The Holocaust Remembrance Day||Israel’s Independence Day|
|Lag Baomer||Shmini Atzeret|
|Simhat Torah||Christmas Day|