The Food of Yom Kippur
Food on Yom Kippur? Isn’t Yom Kippur the most famous fast day on the Jewish calendar?
“One who eats and drinks on the ninth, is considered by the Torah to have fasted on both the ninth and the tenth” (Yoma 81b).
This principle is derived from a strange allusion to afflicting one’s self on the ninth of the month in Leviticus 23:32 (“… and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month in the evening …”), even though only 5 verses earlier the Torah commanded that we must afflict ourselves on the tenth (Leviticus 23:27).
As on all holidays and on Shabbat, it is a mitzvah to eat festive meals. Yom Kippur is also a holiday. Since one may not eat on Yom Kippur, the festival meals are advanced to the preceding day. The first meal should be eaten early in the afternoon so that one may later have the special seudah hamafseket, the final meal before the fast.
To be considered a festive meal, challah (or bread) must be served. Many people serve kreplach, dumplings, because the hidden bits of meat in dough are symbolic of our desire that God will hide our sins.
The seudah hamafseket is usually eaten after the afternoon service, closer to evening, but while it is still daytime. It is recommended that one eat only light foods which are not too salty (therefore it is customary not to eat fish at this meal) and to avoid intoxicating beverages.
Different families have their own customs how to best celebrate the successful conclusion of Yom Kippur with a festive meal and “break fast.” Many Ashkenazi families have dairy meals, while Sephardi families will eat a meat meal.
An Interesting Recipe: Pepitada is a traditional Sephardi post-fast drink made by steeping crushed melon seeds in cold water, straining them and adding a little sugar and perhaps a few drops of orange flower essence, rosewater or honey.
This Treat was last posted on September 23, 2012.
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