Yom Kippur: Significance, Traditions, And What Is Yom Kippur

what is yom kippur? Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. It’s also one of the most important holidays in Judaism, and many non-Jewish people are curious about it.

There are a lot of myths out there about What Is Yom Kippur, so we’re going to bust some of them right now!

The origins and meaning behind this holy day will blow your mind. You’ll learn all you need to know about how to celebrate it properly and what makes this holiday so special for Jews around the world. Ready? Let’s dig in…

what is yom kippur
what is yom kippur

What is Yom Kippur?: Origins and meaning of Yom Kippur

What Is Yom Kippur? Yom Kippur is the day of atonement. It’s celebrated ten days after Yom Teruah (the holiday that comes with the sound of the shofar), on the tenth day of Tishri on the Jewish calendar. it is sometimes referred to as the “Sabbath of Sabbaths.”

Etymology of Yom Kippur 

“Kippur” is the Hebrew word for “atonement.” What Is Yom Kippur means that it’s the time to find forgiveness for your sins, so you can feel clean and refreshed in spirit. You feel spiritually reborn after this day, like a caterpillar turned into a butterfly.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the Jewish New Year. Together, they are sort of like a “one-two punch” to cleanse yourself before beginning a new year for fresh starts.

Yom Kippur is considered to be the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, because Jews spend this day repenting for their wrongdoings. G‑d forgives them for those wrongs, as long as they’re sincerely repentant.

History and Significance of Yom Kippur

According to tradition, the first What Is Yom Kippur took place after the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt . The holiest day in the Jewish calendar is thought to be tied to the first and most important High Holiday season, as part of a series.

Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement.” It was on that day that Moses went up Mount Sinai and stayed there for 40 days and 40 nights. Meanwhile, back at home, the Israelites were celebrating a holiday for the first time.

They made sacrifices and ate special foods, while blowing the shofar (a form of trumpet) to mark this new beginning. After Moses finally returned from his long trip, he told them that each year, they must celebrate the day of atonement on the tenth day of Tishri, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar.

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Moses taught them that on this day they must fast and do extra good deeds to atone for their sinful actions during the past year, so G‑d will forgive them before Yom Kippur begins.

The following year, when they were back in Israel , Moses told them how to celebrate this holiday in much more detail. Since then, Judaism has observed this sacred day every year. Jews have kept some form of Yom Kippur for around 3,300 years.

Observing Yom Kippur

Observing Yom Kippur
Observing Yom Kippur

Jews don’t only observe the holiday on the tenth day of Tishri. The morning before Yom Kippur is called Erev Yom Kippur (evening before), and it’s already observed in most Jewish communities, even though it falls on the ninth day of the month.

Traditionally, this means that Jews don’t eat on the day before Yom Kippur. On the night of Erev Yom Kippur, they eat a pre-fast meal called “seuda mafseket.” Then they go to sleep and wake up early with an empty stomach. They will fast for 25 hours (from seuda mafseket until after Yom Kippur is over).

There are a few exceptions to this rule. Some Jews don’t observe seuda mafseket and the 25-hour fast because they’re ill, nursing women who feel uncomfortable fasting , or babies . But it’s considered best for everyone to observe these traditions — even if you can only do it for a few hours.

Also on Erev Yom Kippur, Jews recite the confession called Viduy . It’s a list of sins they committed during the past year and an admission that those actions were wrong. They ask G‑d for forgiveness as part of this confession, so He will cleanse them from their sins before Yom Kippur.

Before Yom Kippur, Jews read through a book called “Tikkun Haklali” that lists the confession of sins . They also meet with a rabbi or Jewish leader to talk about things they did wrong in the past year and ask for advice on how to behave better in the coming year. This is called ” t’shuvah .”

On Yom Kippur itself, Jews fast, recite the Viduy confession again, and read through a few more sections of the book called “Tikkun Haklali.” Then they will hear about laws that are especially important to follow during this holiday.

After hearing these laws, adults make another confession called Tashlich . This means “casting away” the sins. They go to a body of water (like a river or lake) and recite the prayer while throwing breadcrumbs — symbolizing their wrongdoings — into the water.

Some Jews also attend synagogue services on Yom Kippur, but it’s not required that they do so.

Observance in Israel

In Israel , Jews will traditionally eat meat and bread (except on Shabbat) during the nine days leading up to Yom Kippur. They also avoid wearing leather shoes.

On Erev Yom Kippur, Israelis will eat a festive meal with their family called ” seudat mafseket .” They won’t eat or drink anything for the next 24 hours. But again, some Israelis don’t observe this tradition either because they’re ill, nursing women who feel uncomfortable fasting , or babies .

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Observance by athletes

Just like on Rosh Hashanah, some athletes choose not to practice sport during the Yom Kippur fast. This is because fasting can make people weak and tire them out very quickly.

Unlike on Rosh Hashanah, however, most national sports associations don’t set any official rules for observing this holiday, so athletes will try to do what’s best for them.The FIFA (international soccer) association, for example, recommends that athletes in their league don’t practice or compete on Yom Kippur.

And around the world, many people who would normally go to the stadium will instead spend this day at home with family and friends.

Traditions and Symbols of Yom Kippur

The most important symbol of What Is Yom Kippur is the kapparah . This is a small, thin box with an inscription from Leviticus 16:30 on two sides. It says “For the one who turns to G‑d,” and it’s decorated with gold or silver.

Jews wear these boxes around their necks during Yom Kippur. They put papers inside with prayers like “Please forgive us” and “Please make us pure.”

The kapparah is also placed on the back of the head during special Yom Kippur services; it’s meant to symbolize that Jews are ready to accept whatever G‑d has in store for them.

Another symbol of Yom Kippur is the shofar , a special horn made from a ram’s horn. The shofar will be heard throughout the synagogue services, and it will also be used to signal “shoah,” or calamity . In ancient times, this meant that Jews would blow the shofar if they were in danger. Today, the shofar is blown at certain points throughout the High Holiday services to remind Jews of their responsibility to do t’shuvah and ask for forgiveness.

Jews also eat apples dipped in honey on Yom Kippur, just like they did on Rosh Hashanah. The apples represent a sweet new year, and the honey symbolizes our hope that G‑d will help us reach higher levels of purity in the future.

Wearing white, clean clothes is also a very important idea during Yom Kippur. Even though Jews will be fasting for 25 hours, they want to look neat and put-together when they get up in the morning on Erev Yom Kippur.

Recognition by the United Nations

In 1986, Yom Kippur was declared a United Nations day of peace , and 2002 was named the “Year of Jewish Solidarity” with Israel.

What Is Yom Kippur is recognized by the United States as a “National Day of Prayer” for Jews.

In addition, Yom Kippur has been declared an official holiday in many other countries, including Armenia , Georgia , Spain and Sweden .

How Yom Kippur is celebrated around the world

Jews of European descent will usually sit on a low stool at Yom Kippur services. Those who are more traditional will wear kapotehs , which are long coats that resemble robes worn by priests in ancient times. The more modern Jews of European descent are more likely to wear normal clothes to services, although they may be more traditional when attending synagogue.

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Jews of European descent also read the prayer service in a special way on Yom Kippur. They read everything with extra long pauses to signify that this is an important day. When they reach the part where everyone stands up and recites something aloud, Jews will say it with a low voice. Some people will even read a sentence one way and then say it again in a whisper!

Jews of North African descent will usually sit on chairs at Yom Kippur services. Men will wear kaftans , which are robes similar to those worn by Russian men, and women will wear fancy dresses. Everyone will stand up when they reach the part where everyone says something aloud.

Sephardic Jews will say their prayer services in a style that’s very different from the other two groups! For example, when they read something aloud they’ll usually say it with a loud voice and everyone will repeat it after them. In addition, Sephardic women do not attend Yom Kippur services at all, because that’s considered a time when men are supposed to pray.

When it’s time to end Yom Kippur, Jews will go outside and throw breadcrumbs into the water as they recite a prayer called “Tashlich.” They believe that this symbolizes their wrongdoings being thrown away, so they can start the new year all over again.

FAQ

What is being celebrated on Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur means “day of atonement.” It’s a special day when Jews think about how they have done wrong so far in the year, and whether there is anything they need to change.

What do you eat on Yom Kippur?

Jews don’t eat or drink anything for 25 hours, from after sundown on one day until nightfall the next.

Can you use cell phone on Yom Kippur?

On Yom Kippur, Jews are supposed to sit in their synagogues and think about how they have done wrong so far that year. They are not allowed to spend any time on other activities, including using cell phones!

Can I drink water Yom Kippur?

Jews do not drink anything at all on Yom Kippur so they can focus on prayer and repentance.

Can you take medication on Yom Kippur?

There is a process for taking medication if you must take medication. this involves at certain time intervals

Bottom Line


As we approach the holiest day of Yom Kippur, it is important to remember that What Is Yom Kippur beyond fasting and abstaining from work. The rituals, traditions, symbols, and recognition by the United Nations are all signs that this Jewish holy day deserves our respect as a time for reflection on what really matters in life.

 

 

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