Tuesday, October 11, 2005

YOUR HOLIDAY GUIDE: Yom Kippur 5766 - 2005


Tishrei 8, 5766 * October 11, 2005


5766 - 2005


Brought to you by: www.Chabad.org

Yom Kippur begins this year on Wednesday evening, October 12th, and
continues until nightfall of October 13th. What follows is a how-to
guide to the basics of Yom Kippur observance. For a more in-depth
exploration of Yom Kippur, please visit: http://www.jewishnewyear.org.
Shana Tovah!



- The Day before Yom Kippur
- On Yom Kippur

- Yom Kippur Eve
- Yom Kippur Day
- Yom Kippur Night
- Torah Readings



Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year--the day on which we are closest to G-d and to the quintessence of our own souls. It is the Day of Atonement -- "For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G-d" (Leviticus 16:30).

For twenty-six hours--from several minutes before sunset on Tishrei 9 to after nightfall on Tishrei 10--we "afflict our souls": we abstain from food and drink, do not wash or anoint our bodies, do not wear leather shoes, and abstain from marital relations.

Before Yom Kippur we perform the Kaparot atonement service; we request and receive honey cake, in acknowledgement that we are all recipients in G-d's world and in prayerful hope for a sweet and abundant year; eat a festive meal, immerse in a mikvah, and give extra charity. Late afternoon we eat the pre-fast meal, following which we bless our children, light a memorial candle as well as the holiday candles, and go to the synagogue for Kol Nidrei services.

In the course of Yom Kippur we hold five prayer services: Maariv, with its solemn Kol Nidrei service, on the eve of Yom Kippur; Shacharit--the morning prayer; Musaf, which includes a detailed account of the Yom Kippur Temple service; Minchah, which includes the reading of the Book of Jonah; and Ne'illah, the "closing of the gates" service at sunset. We say the Al Chet confession of sins ten times in the course of Yom Kippur, and recite Psalms every available moment.

The day is the most solemn of the year, yet an undertone of joy suffuses it: a joy that revels in the spirituality of the day and expresses the confidence that G-d will accept our repentance, forgive our sins, and seal our verdict for a year of life, health and happiness. When the closing Ne'illah service climaxes in the resounding cries of "Hear O Israel... G-d is one" and a single blast of the shofar, followed by the proclamation, "Next year in Jerusalem." Then joy erupts in song and dance (a Chabad custom is to sing the lively "Napoleon's March"), followed by the festive after-fast meal, making the evening after Yom Kippur a Yom Tov (festival) in its own right.

Click here for this article with many more related links: http://www.chabad.org/4687

** TO DO **

Before Yom Kippur
October 12, 2005

» Kaparot

The Kaparot (atonement) service is performed early in the morning with a live chicken (or alternatively with money) which is then donated to charity.

For more about Kaparot, click here:

» Take Honey Cake

There is an age-old Jewish custom to "bet'n lekach" or "ask for honey cake" on the day before Yom Kippur.

In addition to the blessing for a sweet year represented by the honey's sweetness, our Rabbis explain that in case it was decreed upon us to need the kindness of others during the upcoming year, we pray that we need ask for nothing more than the honey cake we receive from a relative, friend or acquaintance.

» Festive Meal

It is a mitzvah to eat and drink on the eve of Yom Kippur. Two meals are eaten, one in the morning, and one just prior to the onset of Yom Kippur. One should eat only light foods such as plain cooked chicken and chicken soup. See below.

For more on eating before Yom Kippur, click here:

» Mikvah

It is proper to immerse in the mikvah on this day.

For more on immersing in a Mikveh, click here:

» Charity

It is customary to give charity generously and liberally during all the days of repentance, but on the day before Yom Kippur this is even more the case, for tzedakah is a great source of merit and serves as protection against harsh decrees.

For more on charity before Yom Kippur, click here:

» Afternoon Prayers

During the afternoon prayers, the "Al Chet" confession prayer is recited before the conclusion of the Amidah prayer.

To find Afternoon services closest to you, click here:

» Eat the Final Meal

Prior to the sunset, one should eat the 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. If you wish to eat after this meal, when reciting the Grace After Meals have in mind that you will still eat or drink until the onset of the fast.

One should stop eating at candle lighting time. To find out what time this is in your location, click here:

» Bless the Children

It is customary to bless one's children after the meal. Although there is no required formula for this blessing, it is customary to say:

[For a son:] "May G-d make you like Efrayim and Menashe".
[For a daughter:] "May G-d make you like Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, and Leah".

Click here to read an additional special blessing:

» Change Your Shoes

On Yom Kippur we do not wear leather shoes. Before sunset change your shoes to plastic or canvas shoes or slippers.

To read about this and other prohibitions on Yom Kippur, click here:

» Memorial Candle

It is customary to light memorial candles before the holiday candle lighting.

To read more details about this custom, click here:

» Light Candles:

Girls and all women that are in the house (or if there isn't a woman in the house -- the head of the household) should light candles 18 minutes before sunset, and recite the following blessings:

1) Blessed are You, L-rd, our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to kindle the light of Yom Kippur.

[Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olam Asher Ki-deshanu Be-mitzvo-tav Ve-tzvi-vanu Le-hadlik Ner Shel Yom Hakipurim.]

2) Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.

[Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olam She-heche-ya-nu Ve-ki-yi-ma-nu Ve-higi-a-nu Liz-man Ha-zeh.]

For candle lighting times in your city please click here: http://www.chabad.org/calendar/candlelighting.asp

Now that Yom Kippur has been ushered in, we go to the synagogue to attend the Kol Nidrei and evening services.

To find a synagogue closest to you, click here: http://www.chabad.org/4812

On Yom Kippur

The following applies for duration of Yom Kippur, this year from sundown, October 12 until nightfall, October 13, 2005.

» Fasting

On Yom Kippur, women over 12 years old and men over 13, must fast.

In addition, the biblical commandment to "afflict" ourselves during Yom Kippur includes abstention from the following: eating & drinking, bathing, wearing of leather shoes, marital relations and personal "anointing" (use of body lotions etc.). If you are unable to fast for health reasons, consult your Rabbi.

For more on fasting click here:

» Clothing and Jewelry

Many communities have a custom of wearing white clothes on Yom Kippur, as on this day we are compared to angels. 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.

For more on the custom of wearing white click here:

» Services

We usher Yom Kippur in with the Kol Nidrei evening service on Yom Kippur night (October 12, 2005), followed by Evening services. Morning services on Yom Kippur day include the Torah readings, the Yizkor memorial service, the Musaf service and the Priestly blessing. Afternoon services include the Torah reading and the Haftorah reading of Jonah. Yom Kippur concludes with the closing Neilah prayers followed by the Shofar blast and Evening services.

[We will outline the Services in more detail in the next section.]

» End of Fast

After evening services we perform the Havdalah ceremony, and then we may break our fast.


Yom Kippur Eve

» Kol Nidrei

The Kol Nidrei service consists of the opening of the Ark and taking out the Torah scrolls, reciting the Kol Nidrei and returning the Torah scrolls to the Ark.

Kol Nidrei, the prayer which ushers in the holy day of Yom Kippur, is perhaps the most famous one in our liturgy. Ironically, it is not really a prayer at all, but rather a statement. A statement that deals with promises, vows and other sorts of verbal commitments commonly made in the course of the year. The Torah places strict demands on keeping one’s word, and not fulfilling a vow is considered a serious misdeed.

Kol Nidrei, which means "all vows", nullifies the binding nature of such promises in advance. One declares all future vows and promises invalid, by declaring that all vows are: "absolved, remitted, cancelled, declared null and void, not in force or in effect."

On Yom Kippur when the essence of the soul is fully revealed, we express our real attitude towards the imperfections which might slip into our behavior during the coming year. They are thus denied and declared insignificant.

» Evening Service

The evening service consists of the Half-Kaddish, the Shema, the Amidah and the concluding prayers.

Yom Kippur Day

» Morning Service

In brief: The morning service consists of the following: the morning prayers, the Shema, the Amidah, the reading of the Torah, the Yizkor service, the Musaf service and the priestly blessing.

Torah Reading:

The reading of the Torah is about the solemn service in the Holy Temple on the Day of Atonement, conducted by the High Priest himself. This was the only day of the year on which the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies to offer incense and pray on behalf of the Jewish people.

[For more on the Torah Reading, see below.]

Yizkor Service:

The Yizkor service is recited by those who have lost either one or both of their parents. Others leave the synagogue until the completion of the Yizkor service. The reason for this is to advocate long life for the living parents.

Yizkor is more than a service of remembrance, but rather it is a time for the relatives of the departed to connect with the souls of their loved ones on a deeper level; tradition has it that during the Yizkor service, the souls of the departed descend from heaven and are joined with those who are close to them.

Musaf Service:

The Musaf service consists of the Musaf Amidah, the cantor's repetition of the Amidah, the Avodah - a recounting of the Yom Kippur service in the Holy Temple - and the priestly blessing.

Priestly Blessing:

The Priests, or "Kohanim", direct descendants of Aaron, the High Priest, are commanded to bless the Jewish people with a three-fold blessing. It is customary to perform this duty during the Musaf service on festival days. In preparation for the blessing, the priests remove their shoes and the Levites ritually wash their hands. They then gather at the front or by the eastern wall of the synagogue.

During the blessing, one must not gaze at the Priests directly as the Divine Presence rests upon them. It is customary for men to cover their eyes with their prayer shawls, and for women to gaze into their prayer books.

After the blessing, it is customary to thank the Priests with the words, "Yishar Koach!".

» Afternoon Service

The Afternoon service consists of the Torah reading, the Amidah prayer, the cantor's repetition of the Amidah and the recital of "Avinu Malkenu" (Our Father, Our King).

» Torah Reading

The Torah reading speaks of the purity of Jewish life. The Torah warns us not to follow the immoral ways of Egyptians and native Canaanites, "so that the land spew you not out also, when you defile it, as it spewed out the nations that were before you."

[For more on the Torah Reading, see below.]

» The Haftorah

We read the entire Book of Jonah. It contains a timely message on the importance of repentance and prayer. If sinfulness can cause the land to vomit its inhabitants, repentance can cause the fish to deposit Jonah back on dry land and return him to life. One should never despair; prayer and repentance lead from darkness to light, from the shadow of death to a new life.

Yom Kippur Night

» Neilah, the Concluding Service

The concluding service of Neilah consists of the Opening prayers, the Amidah prayer, the cantor's repetition of the Amidah, Avinu Malkneu (Our Father, Our King), the Declaration of our faith and the sounding of the Shofar and the closing prayers.

Neilah means "closing [the gate]". As the awesome day of Yom Kippur comes to a close, and our future is being sealed, we turn to G-d to accept our sincere repentance and new resolutions, and ask that He seal us in the Book of Life, granting us a new year replete with goodness and happiness. The Ark remains open for the entire Neilah service, signifying that the Gates of Heaven are wide open to our prayers and entreaties.

» Closing Prayers

The apex of the service, the emotional peak, is when we pronounce the verses proclaiming G-d as our G-d, all together. It is written that when we recite the first of the three verses, the Shema, every Jew should have the intention of giving up their soul for the sanctification of G-d's name. This intention will be considered as if we had indeed withstood the test to sanctify the Divine Name.

To find a service near you, click here:

Torah Readings

» Morning Reading

The Torah reading for Yom Kippur morning describes the service performed on this day by the Kohen Gadol (“high priest”) in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

A special feature of the Yom Kippur service was the casting of lots over two he-goats--equal in age, size and appearance--to determine which shall be offered to G-d in the Holy Temple, and which shall be dispatched to carry off the sins of Israel to the wilderness.

The climax of the service was when the Kohen Gadol entered the innermost chamber in the Temple, the “Holy of Holies.” Wearing special clothes of pure white linen, the Kohen Gadol would enter the sacred place with a pan of burning coals in his right hand, and a ladle containing an exact handful of ketoret in his left. Inside the Holy of Holies, he would place the ketoret over the coals, wait for the room to fill with its aromatic smoke, and hastily retreat from the holy place.

“This shall be an everlasting statute for you,” the Torah reading concludes. “… For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G-d… once a year.”

» Afternoon Reading

During the afternoon Minchah service, we read chapter 18 of Leviticus, which details the prohibitions against incest and other deviant sexual behaviors. The Torah reading is followed by a Haftorah (reading from the Prophets) which tells the story of Jonah--the prophet who was sent to prophesy the destruction of the sinful city of Ninveh, ran away from G-d, was swallowed by a fish, and learned the power of prayer and repentance to evoke G-d’s mercy and annul the harshest decrees.

For the full text of the Book of Jonah, click here:



Are you prepared for Yom Kippur?

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