Yom Kippur – The Day of Confession and Repentance

yom kippur

Yom Kippur

TechMAG did a deep research about some of the Jews Events and Festivals in which Yom Kippur is described below with massive details in it like its history and celebrations across the world.

Yom Kippur 2018 will begin in the evening of

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

and ends in the evening of

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

What is Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur is one of the High Holidays in Judaism and is considered to be the holiest of all days. It is also known as Day of Atonement and repentance. The concept of Atonement in Judaism involves repentance. The Jews spend this day by praying in synagogues and fasting for a period of 25 hours. It is considered to be a day on which the second set of the Ten Commandments was received by Moses and is considered even more important than Passover.

Yom Kippur meaning:

The phrase Yom Kippur is a Hebrew phrase, in which the word Yom means “day” and the word Kippur are derived from the biblical word kapporet that means covering of the ark. However, the word Kippur means “to atone.” Hence Yom Kippur means the Day of Atonement.


The Day of Atonement:

Yom Kippur is also called the Day of Atonement. In Judaism, atonement means the process of being pardoned or forgiven. Atonement can be achieved by repentance which can be gained by confession of sins, restitution, Yom Kippur, temple services etc.

When is Yom Kippur?

It is important to know that when is Yom Kippur celebrated? In terms of Hebrew calendar, Yom Kippur is celebrated on 10th of The Hebrew month Tishri every year. The month of Tishri brings many high holidays, Rosh Hashanah being the first high holiday of the month marking the beginning of New Year. It begins at the sundown on the preceding 9th of Tishri and concludes on the 10th of Tishri at nightfall.

Yom Kippur marks the completion of the annual period of high holidays with the commencement of Rosh Hashanah.

yom kippur

Sabbath of Sabbath:

Yom Kippur is also known as Sabbath of Sabbath that means a day on which a person must afflict his or her soul.

The concept of Yom Kippur:

It is believed in Judaism that every person’s fate is written in the Book of life kept by the God. This book is opened every year on Rosh Hashanah and is not sealed until Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. During this period, also called days of awes, all the Jews try to make his or her behavior better and ask for forgiveness by repenting of sins and wrongdoings.

Yom Kippur includes the public repentance, private confession, and petitions. As soon as Yom Kippur ends, everyone hopes that he or she has been forgiven.

What do Jews do on Yom Kippur?

  • The prayer services:

The prayers services of Yom Kippur include several unique features:

First of all the number of prayers on Yom Kippur are different than regular daily prayers. The regular daily prayers include 3 prayers including:

  • The Morning Prayer Shacharit
  • The afternoon prayer Mincha
  • The evening prayer: Ma’ariv

Besides all these regular prayers, Yom Kippur prayer consists of two others:

  • Musaf
  • Neilah
  • Other prayers include: Vidui

Yom Kippur fast:

Fasting on yin Kippur is a tradition. It consists of 25 hours fast during which no food is allowed to be taken neither can you drink anything.

It is not an obligation to fast on Yom Kippur like the people who are ill, elderly or pregnant females are not required to fast on this day. The wearing of Kittel is also a ritual followed on Yom Kippur.

Who observes Yom Kippur?

It is a known fact that Yom Kippur is one of the holiest days of all the religious events in Judaism. It is observed by most of the Jews; however, a certain secular Jews group may not follow the day and are reluctant in performing the services.

How Jews celebrate Yom Kippur:

The celebration of Yom Kippur starts a day before the 10th of Tishrie. The main theme of this day revolves around praying, repenting and giving charity to others. During Yom Kippur, it is considered disrespectful to eat or drink in public even if you are not fasting. The listening of songs and music is also prohibited. Similarly, driving is not considered a healthy activity and should be avoided until an emergency is needed. Also, sports and other kinds of games are not encouraged on Yom Kippur.

Erev of Yom Kippur:

It is the preceding day of Yom Kippur that is on 9th of Tishri that means the eve of atonement. The day includes special morning prayers and extended afternoon service prayer of Mincha that includes recitation of verses from Torah. Charity is also given on this day to the needy and poor. On this day festive meals are also arranged a welcome to Yom Kippur.


The word Kapporat is derived from Kapparah that means to atone. It is a tradition to be performed on the Erev of Yom Kippur. In this event, chicken is waved around one’s head and is given to the ones in need after the recitation of biblical verses on it. It indicates an act of charity to the homeless people. It is usually performed in the afternoon before the lunch is taken

Yom Kippur Service:

  • Musaf
  • Neilah: Iit is also known as concluding service or closing service that is held on the special day of Yom Kippur. It includes the special recitation of prayers and verses for repentance before the book of Heavens is closed marking the fifth Amidah of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
  • Vidui: it is a special prayer of Yom Kippur in which people admit their sins and confess them before God. The main feature of this prayer is that it is performed in separation or in secret. The repentance is shown in front of others is considered disgraceful.
  • Kohen Dahol prayer: it is also a unique prayer of Yom Kippur performed in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem in order to dedicate special prayer services to the high priest. Kohen Dahol is the high priest title given to the chief religious official during the post-exilic times. It is considered that he performed a ritual bath, mikveh on the day of Yom Kippur and then perfumed the prayers.

The order of prayers includes:

  • The Morning Prayer, Tamid offering.
  • Wearing of Mikvah after washing hands and feet properly two times in the sequence
  • Performing Semikah and made a confession
  • Drawing of a lottery box mainly over two goats for the lord
  • Incense preparation and offering
  • Sprinkling of Bull and Goat blood in the holy
  • Preparation of animals for sacrifice
  • Recitation of Torah
  • Wearing of golden garments
  • Musaf offering followed by changing clothes and evening prayer offering

Shofar: Shofar is also blown on Yom Kippur after the prayer of Neilah, the closing prayer. A song called, L’Shana Haba’ah is also sung as a tradition and everyone stands while singing the song.

The prohibitions:

The day of Yom Kippur is considered to be a day of rest, and any activity is strictly prohibited on this day. The laws of Yom Kippur are mentioned in Leviticus The number Five is mainly associated with Yom Kippur and hence there are five restrictions mentioned:

No eating and drinking

No washing and bathing

No wearing of leather

No application of lotion and perfumes

No consummation of marital relations

It actually represents the theme of the day and a return to the state in which one was born i.e. the pristine state. It is thought that a person can survive without these activities however the body becomes uncomfortable just like the soul is, after committing sins. So one should feel the pain of others being in this condition.

yom kippur 2018Tosefet Yom Kippur fast:

The fast of Yom Kippur starts at the sundown of 9th Tishri and continue to the nightfall of the next day, 10th Tishri.

The addition of a few minutes before the start and after the end is also a tradition known a tosefet Yom Kippur. As is a day of fast, a festive meal, Yom Kippur meal is arranged before the start of the fast on the erv of Yom Kippur in the afternoon after performing Mincha prayers. Yom Kippur fasting is not considered to be an obligation.

The next day closing prayer known as Neila is offered just before the sunset. It is considered that the gates of prayers are closing at this time. SHema Yishrael is recited at the time and shofar is blown after which the fast is ended.

The opening of the ark:

The observers of Yom Kippur gather in the synagogue where the ceremony of ark opening is performed. It is also called Torah Ark, as it contains the scrolls of Torah and is considered to be a holy place. According to the tradition, two Torah scrolls or Sifrei Torah are taken from the ark by two people and it is recited followed by Kol Nidre prayer. It is started before the sunset after the ceremony I concluded, the scrolls are taken back to its place and people start preparing for evening services.

The wearing of kittel:

The wearing of kittel is a tradition of Yom Kippur. Kittel is basically a white robe made of cotton and polyester that is worn by male Jews particularly by the married Ashkenazi men. It is also known as Sargenes in Europe. Besides Yom Kippur, this dress is also worn on Rosh Hashanah.

Recitation of Selichot:

It is a petition of forgiveness that is recited before the morning prayer of Yom Kippur. Then it is followed by recitation of mazhor which is a Jewish prayer book. Yom Kippur prayer text form is also available for the observers.

The process of Teshuva and Vidui:

Yom Kippur is considered incomplete without Teshuva and vidui. The concept of Tishuva is related to the repentance indeed, it is a process of repentance in its most basic form. A person repents on his sins before God and seeks His forgiveness.

Similarly, the concept of Vidui is related to the confession that is made the part of its prayer services. Vidui is recited for over 9 times during the prayers of Yom Kippur and consists of a long and short confession. There is also a translation of this Yom Kippur prayer in English which can be recited in synagogues during prayer services.

When is Yom Kippur celebrated?

In Hebrew calendar, as we know that Yom Kippur is celebrated on 10th of Tishri. It is preceded by Rosh Hashanah. In terms of English or Gregorian calendar, Yom Kippur falls in September and October months. The earliest Gregorian date on which Yom Kippur was celebrated coincided with 14th of September. Similarly, the latest date was 14th of October. In the year 2017, Yom Kippur was on September 30, 2017, and the day was Saturday. People are concerned with when is Yom Kippur this year? Now in 2018, Yom Kippur will be on September 19, 2018, on Wednesday.

Yom Kippur greeting:

The main greeting of Yom Kippur is Tsom Kal that means have an easy fast. Similarly, some people also Yom Kippur wishes of Tsom Mo’il that implies, have a benefitting fast. Besides Hebrew, you can also wish happy Yom Kippur in English simply.

Yom Kippur for children:

Yom Kippur for kids is of great importance and they should be guided according to the true meaning of this holy day. The festive meal and Yom Kippur dinner are one of the exciting events for children. Their favorite dishes can be added to the Yom Kippur menu. Fasting is not obligatory for kids however they should be taken to synagogues to offer prayer service. They are asked to pray for forgiveness about the bad things they did in the past year. Similarly, candle lightening by little girls just before the sunset is an attraction held by Yom Kippur.

Happy Yom Kippur by TechMAG.

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