“…on the tenth of the month, you shall afflict your souls and do no work at all…for on that day God will forgive you and cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before God” (Leviticus 16:29-30).
Yom Kippur begins this evening before sunset with the recitation of Kol Nidre, which is actually the prelude to the evening service.
Once a year, Jews around the world make a unique, and not always attractive, fashion statement by wearing clunky sneakers or fuzzy slippers. (The Talmud records that the sages wore sandals of bamboo, reeds and palm branches on Yom Kippur – Yoma 78a-b.) Indeed, Jews in contemporary times often choose sneakers over even today’s synthetic materials that look like leather in order to uphold the prohibition against wearing leather shoes on Yom Kippur. Leather shoes are avoided on Yom Kippur as a means of fulfilling the commandment to “afflict your soul”–“…on the tenth of the month, you shall afflict your souls and do no work at all…for on that day God will forgive you and cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before God” (Leviticus 16:29-30).
The observance of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, calls for abstention from five activities: eating/drinking, anointing, washing oneself, wearing leather shoes and marital relations.
When is it fashionably acceptable to wear white after Labor Day? On Yom Kippur!
Food on Yom Kippur? Isn’t Yom Kippur the most famous fast day on the Jewish calendar?
“Return, O Israel, for you have stumbled in your sin” (Hosea 14:2).
The Jewish people have often been cast as the proverbial “scapegoat.” When millions died during the Black Plague, the Jews were accused of poisoning the wells. Blood libels accusing Jews of drinking the blood of gentile children (frequently associated with Passover) were all too common throughout history. Medieval (and not so medieval) rulers often blamed the Jews for their own calamitous economic policies.
On Rosh Hashana, God judges the world (and all the people therein), but their fates are not sealed until 10 days later, on Yom Kippur. It is during these ten days that we must present a compelling case of our worthiness to the heavenly court.
Jewish prayer is a complex, multi-layered activity. The sages refer to prayer as avodah she’balev, service, the same term used to describe the sacrificial service in the Holy Temple. However, since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., prayer has become our primary means of “connecting” with God.