Can The Nations Repent | Yom Kippur





Leviticus 16:29 mandates establishment of this holy day on the 10th day of the 7th month as the day of atonement for sins. It calls it the Sabbath of Sabbaths and a day upon which one must afflict one’s soul.

Leviticus 23:27 decrees that Yom Kippur is a strict day of rest.

Five additional prohibitions are traditionally observed, as detailed in the Jewish oral tradition (Mishnah tractate Yoma 8:1).

The number five is a set number, relating to:

  1. In the Yom Kippur section of the Torah, the word soul appears five times.
  2. The soul is known by five separate names: soul, wind, spirit, living one and unique one.
  3. Unlike regular days, which have three prayer services, Yom Kippur has five- Maariv, Shacharis, Mussaf, Minchah and Neilah
  4. The Kohen Gadol rinsed himself in the mikveh (ritual bath) five times on Yom Kippur.[7]

The traditions are as follows:

  1. No eating and drinking
  2. No wearing of leather shoes
  3. No bathing or washing
  4. No anointing oneself with perfumes or lotions
  5. No marital relations

A parallel has been drawn between these activities and the human condition according to the Biblical account of the expulsion from the garden of Eden.[8]Refraining from these symbolically represents a return to a pristine state, which is the theme of the day. By refraining from these activities, the body is uncomfortable but can still survive. The soul is considered to be the life force in a body. Therefore, by making one’s body uncomfortable, one’s soul is uncomfortable.[8] By feeling pain one can feel how others feel when they are in pain.[9] This is the purpose of the prohibitions.

Total abstention from food and drink as well as keeping the other traditions begins at sundown, and ends after nightfall the following day. One should add a few minutes to the beginning and end of the day, called tosefet Yom Kippur, lit. “addition to Yom Kippur”. Although the fast is required of all healthy men over 13 or women over 12, it is waived in the case of certain medical conditions.

Virtually all Jewish holidays involve meals, but since Yom Kippur involves fasting, Jewish law requires one to eat a large and festive meal on the afternoon before Yom Kippur, after the Mincha (afternoon) prayer. This meal is meant to make up for the inability to eat a large meal on the day of Yom Kippur instead, due to the prohibition from eating or drinking.

Wearing white clothing (or a kittel for Ashkenazi Jews), is traditional to symbolize one’s purity on this day. Many Orthodox men immerse themselves in a mikveh on the day before Yom Kippur.[10]

In order to gain atonement from God, one must:[7]

  1. Pray
  2. Repent of one’s sins
  3. Give to charity
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