Yom Kippur: Wikis


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Yom Kippir
Yom Kippir
Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur, by Maurycy Gottlieb (1878)
Official name Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר or יום הכיפורים
Observed by Jews
Type Jewish
Significance Soul-searching and repentance
Date 10th day of Tishrei
2009 date Sunset, September 27 – nightfall, September 28
2010 date Sunset, September 17 – nightfall, September 18
2011 date Sunset, October 7 – nightfall, October 8
Observances Fasting, prayer, abstaining from physical pleasures, refraining from work

Yom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר‎, IPA: [ˈjom kiˈpur]), also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for religious Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days.

Yom Kippur is the tenth day of the month of Tishrei. According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person's fate for the coming year into a "book" on Rosh Hashanah and waits until Yom Kippur to "seal" the verdict. During the Days of Awe, a Jew tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God (bein adam leMakom) and against other human beings (bein adam lechavero). The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt (Vidui). At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers one's self absolved by God.

The Yom Kippur prayer service includes several unique aspects. One is the actual number of prayer services. Unlike a regular day, which has three prayer services (Ma'ariv, the evening prayer; Shacharit, the morning prayer; and Mincha, the afternoon prayer), or a Shabbat or Yom Tov, which have four prayer services (Ma'ariv; Shacharit; Musaf, the additional prayer; and Mincha), Yom Kippur has five prayer services (Ma'ariv; Shacharit; Musaf; Mincha; and Ne'ilah, the closing prayer). The prayer services also include a public confession of sins (Vidui) and a unique prayer dedicated to the special Yom Kippur avodah (service) of the Kohen Gadol in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Yom Kippur is considered one of the holiest of Jewish holidays and it is observed by many secular Jews who may not observe other holidays. Many secular Jews fast and attend synagogue on Yom Kippur, where the number of worshippers attending is often double or triple[citation needed] the normal attendance. Many other Jews choose not to fast[1].



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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.

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

  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
  6. No dealing with money

Total abstention from food and drink usually begins 30 minutes before sundown (called tosefet Yom Kippur, lit. "Addition to Yom Kippur"), and ends after nightfall the following day. Although the fast is required of all healthy adults, it is waived in the case of certain medical conditions.

Virtually all Jewish holidays involve a ritual feast, 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.

Wearing white clothing, for men a Kittel, is traditional to symbolize one’s purity on this day. Many Orthodox men immerse themselves in a mikvah on the day before Yom Kippur. [2]



Erev Yom Kippur (lit. "eve [of] day [of] atonement") is the day preceding Yom Kippur, corresponding to the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. This day is commemorated with two festive meals, the giving of charity, and asking others for forgiveness.[3]

Before sunset on Yom Kippur eve, worshippers gather in the synagogue. The Ark is opened and two people take from it two Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls). Then they take their places, one on each side of the cantor, and the three recite:

In the tribunal of Heaven and the tribunal of earth, by the permission of God—praised be He—and by the permission of this holy congregation, we hold it lawful to pray with transgressors."

The cantor then chants the Kol Nidre prayer (Hebrew: כל נדרי) in Aramaic, not Hebrew. Its name is taken from the opening words, meaning “All vows”:

All personal vows we are likely to make, all personal oaths and pledges we are likely to take between this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, we publicly renounce. Let them all be relinquished and abandoned, null and void, neither firm nor established. Let our personal vows, pledges and oaths be considered neither vows nor pledges nor oaths.[4]

The leader and the congregation then say together three times “May all the people of Israel be forgiven, including all the strangers who live in their midst, for all the people are in fault.” The Torah scrolls are then replaced, and the customary evening service begins.

Prayer services

Many married men wear a kittel, a white robe-like garment for evening prayers on Yom Kippur otherwise used by some Orthodox males on their wedding day.[5] They also wear a tallit, as they may also do on Shabbat and on other holidays.[6] Prayer services begin with the prayer known as “Kol Nidre,” which must be recited before sunset, and continue with the evening prayers (Ma'ariv or Arvith), which includes an extended Selichot service.

The morning prayer service is preceded by litanies and petitions of forgiveness called selichot; on Yom Kippur, many selichot are woven into the liturgy of the mahzor (prayer book). The morning prayers are followed by an added prayer (Musaf) as on all other holidays. This is followed by Mincha (the afternoon prayer) which includes a reading (Haftarah) of the entire Book of Jonah, which has as its theme the story of God's willingness to forgive those who repent.

The service concludes with the Ne'ila ("closing") prayer, which begins shortly before sunset, when the "gates of prayer" will be closed. Yom Kippur comes to an end with a recitation of Shema Yisrael and the blowing of the shofar,[7] which marks the conclusion of the fast.[6]

Return in Judaism:
repentance, atonement,
higher ascent
Yom Kippur in the Jerusalem Temple
In the Hebrew Bible:
Biblical Altars
Temple in Jerusalem
Prophecy in the Temple
Jacob wrestling the angelPrayerDveikut
Confession in Judaism
Atonement in Judaism
Love of God
Awe of God
Mystical approach
Ethical approach
Jewish meditation
Jewish services
Torah study
In the Jewish calendar:
Rosh HashanahMikveh before Yom KippurMourning on Tisha B'Av
Month of Elul · Selichot
Rosh Hashanah
Shofar · Tashlikh
Ten Days of Repentance
Kapparot · Mikveh
Yom Kippur
Sukkot · Simchat Torah
Ta'anit · Tisha B'Av
Passover · The Omer
Contemporary Judaism:
Baal teshuva movement
Jewish Renewal

Avodah: remembering the Temple service

A recitation of the sacrificial service of the Temple in Jerusalem traditionally features prominently in both the liturgy and the religious thought of the holiday. Specifically, the Avodah (“service”) in the musaf prayer recounts in great detail the sacrificial ceremonies of the Yom Kippur Korbananot (sacrificial offerings) that are recited in the prayers but have not been performed for 2,000 years, since the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans.

This traditional prominence is rooted in the Babylonian Talmud’s description of how to attain atonement following the destruction of the Temple. According to Talmud tractate Yoma, in the absence of a Temple, Jews are obligated to study the High Priest’s ritual on Yom Kippur, and this study helps achieve atonement for those who are unable to benefit from its actual performance. In Orthodox Judaism, accordingly, studying the Temple ritual on Yom Kippur represents a positive rabbinically ordained obligation which Jews seeking atonement are required to fulfill.

In Orthodox synagogues, most Conservative, and some progressive[8] a detailed description of the Temple ritual is recited on the day. In most Orthodox and some Conservative synagogues, the entire congregation prostrates themselves at each point in the recitation where the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) would pronounce the Tetragrammaton (God’s holiest name, according to Judaism).

The main section of the Avodah is a threefold recitation of the High Priest’s actions regarding expiation in the Holy of Holies. Performing the sacrificial acts and reciting Leviticus 16:30, (“Your upright children”). (These three times, plus in some congregations the Aleinu prayer during the Musaf Amidah on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, are the only times in Jewish services when Jews engage in prostration, with the exception of some Yemenite Jews and talmedhei haRambam (disciples of Maimonides) who may prostrate themselves on other occasions during the year). A variety of liturgical poems are added, including a poem recounting the radiance of the countenance of the Kohen Gadol after exiting the Holy of Holies, traditionally believed to emit palpable light in a manner echoing the Torah's account of the countenance of Moses after descending from Mount Sinai, as well as prayers for the speedy rebuilding of the Temple and the restoration of sacrificial worship. There are a variety of other customs, such as hand gestures to mime the sprinkling of blood (one sprinkling upwards and seven downwards per set of eight).

Orthodox liturgies include prayers lamenting the inability to perform the Temple service and petitioning for its restoration, which Conservative synagogues generally omit. In some Conservative synagogues, only the Hazzan (cantor) engages in full prostration. Some Conservative synagogues abridge the recitation of the Avodah service to varying degrees, and some omit it entirely. Many Reform and Reconstructionist services omit the entire service as inconsistent with modern sensibilities.

In the Torah

The Torah calls the day Yom HaKippurim (יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים) and in it Leviticus 23:27 decrees a strict prohibition of work and affliction of the soul upon the tenth day of the seventh month, later known as Tishrei. The rites for Yom Kippur are set forth in Leviticus 16:1-34 (cf. Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 23:27-32, Leviticus 25:9; Numbers 29:7-11.)

Midrashic interpretation

The midrashim described in this section need sources cited from Midrashic literature[citation needed]

Traditionally, Yom Kippur is considered the date on which Moses received the second set of Ten Commandments. It occurred following the completion of the second 40 days of instructions from God. At this same time, the Israelites were granted atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf; hence, its designation as the Day of Atonement.[9]

Mishnaic and Talmudic literature

Temple service

The following summary of the Temple service is based on the traditional Jewish religious account described in Mishnah tractate Yoma, appearing in contemporary traditional Jewish prayerbooks for Yom Kippur, and studied as part of a traditional Jewish Yom Kippur worship service.[10]

While the Temple in Jerusalem was standing (from Biblical times through 70 C.E.), the Kohen Gadol (High Priest), the Torah mandated that he perform a complex set of special services and sacrifices for Yom Kippur to attain Divine atonement, the word "kippur" meaning "atone" in Hebrew. These services were considered to be the most important parts of Yom Kippur because through them the Kohen Gadol made atonement for all Jews and the world. During the service, the Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies in the center of the Temple, the only time of the year that anyone went inside. Doing so required special purification and preparation, including five immersions in a mikvah (ritual bath), and four changes of clothing.

Seven days prior to Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol was sequestered in the Palhedrin chamber in the Temple, where he reviewed (studied) the service with the sages familiar with the Temple, and was sprinkled with spring water containing ashes of the Red Heifer as purification. The Talmud (Tractate Yoma) also reports that he practiced the incense offering ritual in the Avitnas chamber.

On the day of Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol had to follow a precise order of services, sacrifices, and purifications:

  • Morning (Tamid) Offering The Kohen Gadol first performed the regular daily (Tamid) offering — usually performed by ordinary priests — in special golden garments, after immersing in a mikvah and washing his hands and feet.
  • Garment Change 1 The Kohen Gadol immersed in a special mikvah in the Temple courtyard and changed into special linen garments, and washed his hands and feet twice, once after removing the golden garments and once before putting on the linen garments.
  • Bull as Personal Sin-Offering The Kohen Gadol leaned (performed Semikha) and made a confession over the bull on behalf of himself and his household, pronouncing the Tetragrammaton. The people prostrated themselves when they heard. He then slaughtered the bull as a chatat (sin-offering) and received its blood in a bowl.
  • Lottery of the goats At the Eastern (Nikanor) gate, the Kohen Gadol drew lots from a lottery box over two goats. One was selected “for the Lord,” and one “for Azazel.” The Kohen Gadol tied a red band around the horns of the goat “for Azazel.”
  • Incense Preparation The Kohen Gadol ascended the mizbeach (altar) and took a shovel full of embers with a special shovel. He was brought incense. He filled his hands and placed it in a vessel. (The Talmud considered this the most physically difficult part of the service, as the Kohen Gadol had to keep the shovelful of glowing coals balanced and prevent its contents from dropping, using his armpit or teeth, while filling his hands with the incense).
  • Incense Offering Holding the shovel and the vessel, he entered the Kadosh Hakadashim, the Temple’s Holy of Holies. In the days of the First Temple, he placed the shovel between the poles of the Ark of the Covenant. In the days of the Second Temple, he put the shovel where the Ark would have been. He waited until the chamber filled with smoke and left.
  • Sprinkling of Bull's Blood in the Holy of Holies The Kohen Gadol took the bowl with the bull’s blood and entered the Most Holy Place again. He sprinkled the bull’s blood with his finger eight times, before the Ark in the days of the First Temple, where it would have been in the days of the Second. The Kohen Gadol then left the Holy of Holies, putting the bowl on a stand in front of the Parochet (curtain separating the Holy from the Holy of Holies).
  • Goat for the Lord as Sin-Offering for Kohanim The Kohen Gadol went to the eastern end of the Israelite courtyard near the Nikanor Gate, laid his hands (semikha) on the goat “for the Lord,” and pronounced confession on behalf of the Kohanim (priests). The people prostrated themselves when he pronounced the Tetragrammaton. He then slaughtered the goat, and received its blood in another bowl.
  • Sprinkling of Goat’s Blood in the Holy of Holies The Kohen Gadol took the bowl with the goat’s blood and entered the Kadosh Hakadashim, the Temple’s Holy of Holies again. He sprinkled the goat’s blood with his finger eight times the same way he had sprinkled the bull’s blood. The blood was sprinkled before the Ark in the days of the First Temple, where it would have been in the days of the Second Temple. The Kohen Gadol then left the Kadosh Hakadashim, putting the bowl on a stand in front of the Parochet (curtain separating the Holy from the Holy of Holies).
  • Sprinkling of blood in the Holy Standing in the Hekhal (Holy), on the other side of the Parochet from the Holy of Holies, the Kohen Gadol took the bull's blood from the stand and sprinkled it with his finger eight times in the direction of the Parochet. He then took the bowl with the goat's blood and sprinkled it eight times in the same manner, putting it back on the stand.
  • Smearing of blood on the Golden (Incense) Altar The Kohen Gadol removed the goat’s blood from the stand and mixed it with the bull's blood. Starting at the northeast corner, he then smeared the mixture of blood on each of the four corners of the Golden (Incense) altar in the Haichal. He then sprinkled the blood eight times on the altar.
  • Goat for Azazel The Kohen Gadol left the Haichal and walked to the east side of the Azarah (Israelite courtyard). Near the Nikanor Gate, he leaned his hands (Semikha) on the goat “for Azazel” and confessed the sins of the entire people of Israel. The people prostrated themselves when he pronounced the Tetragrammaton. While he made a general confession, individuals in the crowd at the Temple would confess privately. The Kohen Gadol then sent the goat off “to the wilderness.” In practice, to prevent its return to human habitation, the goat was led to a cliff outside Jerusalem and pushed off its edge.
  • Preparation of sacrificial animals While the goat “for Azazel” was being led to the cliff, the Kohen Gadol removed the insides of the bull, and intertwined the bodies of the bull and goat. Other people took the bodies to the Beit HaDeshen (place of the ashes). They were burned there after it was confirmed that the goat “for Azazel” had reached the wilderness.
  • Reading the Torah After it was confirmed that the goat “for Azazzel” had been pushed off the cliff, the Kohen Gadol passed through the Nikanor Gate into the Ezrat Nashim (Women’s Courtyard) and read sections of the Torah describing Yom Kippur and its sacrifices.
  • Garment change 2 The Kohen Gadol removed his linen garments, immersed in the mikvah in the Temple courtyard, and changed into a second set of special golden garments. He washed his hands and feet both before removing the linen garments and after putting on the golden ones.
  • Offering of Rams The Kohen Gadol offered two rams as an olah offering, slaughtering them on the north side of the mizbeach (outer altar), receiving their blood in a bowl, carrying the bowl to the outer altar, and dashing the blood on the northeast and southwest corners of the Outer Altar. He dismembered the rams and burned the parts entirely on the outer altar. He then offered the accompanying mincha (grain) offerings and nesachim (wine-libations).
  • Musaf Offering The Kohen Gadol then offered the Musaf offering.
  • Burning of Innards The Kohen Gadol placed the insides of the bull and goat on the outer altar and burned them entirely.
  • *Garment change 3 The Kohen Gadol removed his golden garments, immersed in the mikvah, and changed to a new set of linen garments, again washing his hands and feet twice.
  • Removal of Incense from the Holy of Holies The Kohen Gadol returned to the Holy of Holies and removed the bowl of incense and the shovel.
  • Garment Change 4 The Kohen Gadol removed his linen garments, immersed in the mikvah, and changed into a third set of golden garments, again washing his hands and feet twice.
  • Evening (Tamid) Offering The Kohen Gadol completed the afternoon portion of the regular (tamid) daily offering in the special golden garments. He washed his hands and feet a tenth time.

The Kohen Gadol wore five sets of garments (three golden and two white linen), immersed in the mikvah five times, and washed his hands and feet ten times. Sacrifices included two (daily) lambs, one bull, two goats, and two rams, with accompanying mincha (meal) offerings, wine libations, and three incense offerings (the regular two daily and an additional one for Yom Kippur). The Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies three times. The Tetragrammaton was pronounced three times, once for each confession.[10]

Observance in Israel

Ayalon Highway in Tel-Aviv, empty of cars on Yom Kippur 2004.

Yom Kippur is a legal holiday in the modern state of Israel. There are no radio or television broadcasts, airports are shut down, there is no public transportation, and all shops and businesses are closed.[11] In 1973, an air raid siren was sounded on the afternoon of Yom Kippur and radio broadcasts were resumed to alert the public to the surprise attack on Israel by Egypt and Syria that launched the Yom Kippur War.

In 2008, 63% percent of the Jewish people of Israel said that they were intending to fast on Yom Kippur.[1] This may be the reason that it is very common in Israel to wish "Tsom Kal" ([an] easy fast) or "Tsom Mo'iil" ([an] efficient fast) to everyone before Yom Kippur, even if one does not know whether they will fast or not.

It is considered impolite to eat in public on Yom Kippur or to drive a motor vehicle. There is no legal prohibition on driving or eating in public but in practice such actions are frowned upon, excepting emergency services.

Over the last few decades, bicycle-riding and inline skating on the empty streets has become a new “tradition” among secular Israeli youngsters, especially on the eve of Yom Kippur.

Contemporary scholarship

According to textual scholars, the biblical regulations covering Yom Kippur are spliced together from multiple source texts,[12][13] as indicated by evidence such as with the duplication of the confession over the bullock,[14] and the incongruity in one verse stating that the high priest should not enter the Holy of Holies (with the inference that there are exceptions for certain explicitly identified festivals),[15] and the next verse indicating that they can enter whenever they wish (as long as a specific ritual is carried out first).[12] Although Rashi tried to find a harmonistic explanation for this incongruity, the Leviticus Rabbah maintains that it was indeed the case that the high priest could enter at any time if these rituals were carried out.[16] Textual scholars argue that the ritual is composed from three sources, and a couple of redactional additions:[12][13]

  • prerequisite rituals before the high priest can enter the Holy of Holies (on any occasion), namely a sin offering and a whole offering, followed by the filling of the Holy of Holies with a cloud of incense while wearing linen garments[17]
  • regulations which establish an annual day of fasting and rest, during which the sanctuary and people are purified, without stating the ritual for doing so;[18] this regulation is very similar to the one in the Holiness Code[19]
  • later elaborations of the ceremony,[20] which include the sprinkling of the blood on the mercy seat, and the use of a scapegoat sent to Azazel; the same source also being responsible for small alterations to related regulations[21]
  • the redactional additions[22]

On the basis of their assumptions, these scholars believe that the original ceremony was simply the ritual purification of the sanctuary from any accidental ritual impurity, at the start of each new year, as seen in the Book of Ezekiel,[23] which textual scholars date to before the priestly source, but after JE.[24][25] According to the Book of Ezekiel, the sanctuary was to be cleansed by the sprinkling of bullock's blood, on the first day of the first and of the seventh months[26] — near the start of the Civil year and of the Ecclesiastical year, respectively; although the masoretic text of the Book of Ezekiel has the second of these cleansings on the seventh of the first month, biblical scholars regard the Septuagint, which has the second cleaning as being the first of the seventh month, as being more accurate here.[23] It appears that during the period that the Holiness Code and the Book of Ezekiel were written, the new year began on the tenth day of the seventh month,[27][28] and thus liberal biblical scholars believe that by the time the Priestly Code was compiled, the date of the new year and of the day of atonement had swapped around.[12]

Day of Atonement in Christian tradition

The Day of Atonement has deep theological significance in the New Testament. Chapters 8 to 10 of the Epistle to the Hebrews argue that it pointed forward to Christ's work as priest. On the one hand, "only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance," (Hebrews 9:7). Christ, however, "went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption," (Hebrews 9:11-12). F. F. Bruce notes that the author views Christ's redemptive work "as the antitypical fulfilment of the sacrificial ritual of the day of atonement."[29]

The New Testament refers to Day of Atonement in Acts 27:9.[30] Because of the apostolic practice of observing Yom Kippur, a small number of evangelical Christians observe it today. Roderick C. Meredith, leader of the Living Church of God, believes that the Day of Atonement "pictures the binding of Satan at the beginning of the Millennium and the world becoming at one with God."[31]

See also


  1. ^ a b http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3606861,00.html
  2. ^ "OU Customs for Erev Yom Kippur". http://www.ou.org/chagim/yomkippur/ykcustoms.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  3. ^ http://www.divreinavon.com/pdf/ErevYomKippur.pdf Erev Yom Kippur - The purpose of the day as seen through Talmudic anecdotes (PDF)
  4. ^ Translation of Philip Birnbaum, from High Holyday Prayer Book, Hebrew Publishing Company, NY, 1951
  5. ^ "Jewish Virtual Library — Yom Kippur". http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/holiday4.html. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  6. ^ a b Rabbi Daniel Kohn. "My Jewish Learning — Prayer Services". http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Yom_Kippur/Overview_Yom_Kippur_Community/Prayer_Services.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-21. 
  7. ^ The significance of shofar to Yom Kippur is discussed at http://hearingshofar.com/Book1.htm#_PART_FOUR_%E2%80%93
  8. ^ An abbreviated version of the Seder Avodah is used in Yom Kippur services at the Hebrew Union College Jerusalem campus
  9. ^ Spiro, Rabbi Ken. Crash Course in Jewish History Part 12 — The Golden Calf. Aish HaTorah. accessed April 29, 2007
  10. ^ a b Arnold Lustiger, Michael Taubes, Menachem Genack, and Hershel Schacter, Kasirer Edition Yom Kippur Machzor With Commentary Adapted from the Teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. New York: K'hal Publishing, 2006. pp. 588–589 (summary); 590–618.
  11. ^ "Sounds of The City", article from Israel Insider, October 14, 2005
  12. ^ a b c d Jewish Encyclopedia
  13. ^ a b Cheyne and Black, Encyclopedia Biblica
  14. ^ Leviticus 16:6 and Leviticus 16:6
  15. ^ Leviticus 16:2
  16. ^ Leviticus Rabbah 21
  17. ^ Leviticus 16:1, 16:3–4, 16:12–13, 16:34 (b)
  18. ^ Leviticus 16:29–34 (a)
  19. ^ Leviticus 23:27–31
  20. ^ Leviticus 16:5, 16:7–10, 16:14–28
  21. ^ Exodus 30:10, Leviticus 25:9
  22. ^ Leviticus 16:2, 16:6, 16:11
  23. ^ a b Jewish Encyclopedia, Day of Atonement
  24. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, Priestly Source
  25. ^ Richard Elliott Friedman, Who wrote the Bible
  26. ^ Ezekiel 45:18–20
  27. ^ Leviticus 25:9
  28. ^ Ezekiel 40:1
  29. ^ F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 87.
  30. ^ F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 506.
  31. ^ Roderick C. Meredith, The Holy Days—God's Master Plan at www.tomorrowsworld.org.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From Hebrew יוֹם כִּפּוּר (yom kippúr), literally "day of atonement".

Proper noun

Yom Kippur


Yom Kippur

  1. A particular Jewish holiday, the day of atonement, falling on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei.


  • Day of Atonement


External links

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Day Of Atonement article)

From BibleWiki


Biblical Data.

— In Bible, Talmud, and Liturgy:

The term (image) , "Yom Kippur," is late rabbinic. The Biblical laws relating to it are found in Lev. xvi. (ceremonies); ib. xxiii. 26-32 (list of holidays); ib. xxv. 9 (ushering in the jubilee); Num. xxix. 7-11 (sacrifices).

Ceremonies According to Bible and Mishnah.

The Day of Atonement, according to Biblical tradition, is one in the cycle of holidays instituted by Moses. It occurs on the tenth day of the seventh month, and is distinguished by abstaining thereon from food ("afflicting one's soul"; compare Isa. Iviii. 3, 5) and by an elaborate ceremonial. The details of the ritual, in accordance with rabbinical interpretation (Sifra and Rashi on Lev. xvi.; Mishnah and Gemara Yoma; "Yad" Hil. 'Abodat Yom ha-Kippurim; Asheri), proceed about as follows: In the early morning the high priest, in his robes of office (described Ex. xxviii., xxxix.), offered the daily morning sacrifice (Num. xxix. 11; Ex. xxix. 38 et seq.) and performed the ordinary morning rite of dressing the lamps, which was accompanied by an offering of incense (Ex. xxx. 7). Next in order was the festival sacrifice of a bullock and seven lambs (Num. xxix. 7 et seq.). Then began the peculiar ceremonies of atonement, for which the high priest put on special vestments of linen (Lev. xvi. 4). With his hands placed on the head of a bullock (contributed from his own means), he made confession of his own sins and of those of his nearer household (verse 6, see Rashi). The two goats contributed by the people (verse 5) were placed before him, being designated by lot, the one for a sinoffering "for the Lord," and the other to be sent away into the wilderness "for Azazel" (verses 7-10). Once more the high priest made confession over his own bullock, for himself and his wider household—his brother priests (verse 11a). After killing the animal (verse 11b) and receiving its blood into a vessel, he took a censer full of live coals from the altar of burnt offering (Ex. xxvii. 1-8) and two handfuls of fine incense into the sacred recess behind the curtain, the Holy of Holies; there he placed the incense on the coals, the cloud of incense enveloping the so-called "mercy-seat" (verse 12 et seq.), and offered a short prayer (Yoma v. 1). He returned for the vessel containing the blood of the bullock and reentered, sprinkling some of it with his finger eight times between the staves of the Ark (verse 14; Ex. xxv. 13-15). He then left the sacred compartment to kill the people's goat (marked "for the Lord"); with its blood he reentered the Holy of Holies, there to perform the same number of sprinklings in the same place (verse 15).

Process of Purification.

By these rites the most holy place was rendered free from all impurities attaching to it through the intentional or unintentional entrance of unclean persons into the sanctuary (verse 16, see Rashi; Num. xix. 13, see Rashi). By sprinkling the bullock's blood and similarly that of the goat eight times against the curtain, the entrance to the Holy of Holies was purified (verse 16b, see Rashi). No one was permitted to remain in the sanctuary while the high priest officiated in the Holy of Holies (verse 17). The high priest then mixed the blood of the bullock and goat, and put some of it on the four corners of the altar of incense (Ex. xxx. 1-10); he furthermore sprinkled some of it with his finger seven times on the surface of the altar, cleaned of its coal and ashes (verse 18 et seq.), while the remainder was poured out at the base of the altar outside (Lev. iv. 7). The live goat was now brought forward. The high priest laid his hand upon its head and confessed "all the iniquities of the Israelites, and all their transgressions, even all their sins," which were thus placed upon the goat's head. Laden with the people's sins, the animal was sent away into the wilderness (verses 20-22). The high priest then took those portions that belonged on the altar out of the bodies of the bullock and the goat, and placed them temporarily in a vessel; the carcasses of the animals were sent away "to the place where the ashes are thrown out" (Lev. iv. 12) and burned there (verse 27; Yoma vi. 7). Clothed in his ordinary robes, the high priest offered another goat for a sin-offering (Num. xxix. 11), and two rams for a burnt offering, one of which was contributed by himself (verse 24). The altar portions of the bullock and goat were now burned on the altar (verse 25; Yoma l.c.; see Bertinoro), and the daily evening sacrifice was offered (Num. xxix. 11; Ex. xxix. 41). Once more the linen garments were put on, for the high priest again repaired to the Holy of Holies in order to remove thence the censer; the sacred vestments were then deposited in the sanctuary. In his ordinary robes, the high priest closed the service with the evening rite of lighting the lamps, which was accompanied by an offering of incense (Ex. xxx. 8; Yoma vii. 4).

Talmudical Amplifications.

In the Mishnah the ceremonial is further enriched by elements having no Scriptural basis. Thus, before removing his linen garments for the first time, the high priest read to the people portions from the Pentateuch relating to the Day of Atonement (Yoma vii. 1). The Mishnah reproduces the exact wording of the three confessions (iii. 8, iv. 2, vi. 2); it states also that as often as the high priest uttered the divine name (Tetragrammaton), the assembled multitudes outside, while prostrating themselves, responded: "Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom for ever and ever" (vi. 2). Much is also said about the preparations which the high priest was to undergo during the week preceding the fast-day, and the night previous to the great day in particular; especially how he was to guard against pollution (i. 1-7). So great, according to the Mishnah (vii. 4), was the dread that some mishap might befall the high priest while officiating in the Holy of Holies, that at the conclusion of the service he was escorted home and congratulated by his friends, whom in turn the priest was wont to entertain in the evening at a feast. Mirth was indulged in by the people in general; the young men and maidens enjoyed themselves by dancing in the vineyards (Ta'anit iv. 8).

Place in Post-Exilic Judaism.

The Day of Atonement is the keystone of the sacrificial system of post-exilic Judaism. In the belief that the great national misfortunes of the past were due to the people's sins, the Jews of post-exilic times strove to bring on the Messianic period of redemption by strictly and minutely guarding against all manner of sin. The land being defiled by the sin of the people, the pollution must be removed lest the Divine Presence withdraw from among them. Hence the sacrificial system with its sinand guilt-offerings. While provision was made for the expiation of the wrong-doings of individuals by private offerings, the public sacrifices atoned for the sins of the community. Especially dangerous seemed the errors unwittingly committed (Ps. xix. 13). On the Day of Atonement such sins as may not have been covered by the various private and public expiatory sacrifices were to be disposed of by a general ceremony of expiation. In this elaborate ceremonial, as described, the ordinary rites of the sin-offering are to be discerned in an intensified form. In every sacrifice there is the idea of substitution; the victim takes the place of the human sinner. The laying of hands upon the victim's head is an ordinary rite by which the substitution and the transfer of sins are effected; on the Day of Atonement the animal laden with the people's sins was sent abroad (compare the similar rite on the recovery of a leper, Lev. xiv. 7; see Azazel). The sprinkling of the blood is essential to all sin-offerings. By dipping his finger in the victim's blood and applying it to a sacred object like the altar, the priest reestablishes the union between the people that he represents and the Deity.

Place in Rabbinic Judaism.

In rabbinic Judaism the Day of Atonement completes the penitential period of ten days ( (image) (image) ) that begins with New-Year's Day, the season of repentance and prayer; for though prayerful humiliation be acceptable at all times, it is peculiarly potent at that time (R. H. 18a; Maimonides, "Yad," Teshubah, ii. 6). It is customary to rise early (commencing a few days before New-Year); the morning service is preceded by litanies and petitions of forgiveness ( (image) , "seliḥot") which, on the Day of Atonement, are woven into the liturgy (Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 581; Zunz, "S. P." 76 et seq.). New-Year's and Atonement days are days of serious meditation ( (image) , "awful days," Zunz, "S. P." 82, note). The former is the annual day of judgment ( (image) ), when all creatures pass in review before the searching eye of Omniscience (R. H. i. 2). According to the Targum, the day of the heavenly session in Job i. 6 et seq. was no other than the first of the year ( (image) , resh shatta; see also Zohar Ex. 32b, ed. Wilna, 1882). Accordingly, the Divine Judge receives on that day the report of Satan, arch-fiend and accuser in heaven; the other angels, it is presumed, are friendly to the accused, and plead their cause before the august tribunal. The sounds of the "shofar" are intended to confuse Satan (R. H. 16b). There is, indeed, in heaven a book wherein the deeds of every human being are minutely entered (Abot ii. 1, iii. 16; a book of record, "book of remembrance," is alluded to, Mal. iii. 16). Three books are opened on the first day of the year, says the Talmud (R. H. 16b); one for the thoroughly wicked, another for the thoroughly pious, and the third for the large intermediate class. The fate of the thoroughly wicked and the thoroughly pious is determined on the spot; the destiny of the intermediate class is suspended until the Day of Atonement, when the fate of every man is sealed (R. H. 16a). In the liturgical piece "Unetanneh Toḳef," ascribed to R. Amnon Of Mayence (Zunz, "Literaturgesch." p. 107), a still weirder scene is unfolded:

"God, seated on His throne to judge the world, at the same time Judge, Pleader, Expert, and Witness, openeth the Book of Records; it is read, every man's signature being found therein. The great trumpet is sounded; a still, small voice is heard; the angels shudder, saying, this is the day of judgment: for His very ministers are not pure before God. As a shepherd mustereth his flock, causing them to pass under his rod, so doth God cause every living soul to pass before Him to fix the limit of every creature's life and to foreordain its destiny. On New-Year's Day the decree is written; on the Day of Atonement it is sealed who shall live and who are to die, etc. But penitence, prayer, and charity may avert the evil decree."

All depends on whether a man's merits outweigh the demerits put to his account (Maimonides, "Yad," Teshubah, iii. 3). It is therefore desirable to multiply good deeds before the final account on the Day of Atonement (ib. iii. 4). Those that are found worthy are entered in the Book of Life (Ex. xxxii. 32; Isa. iv. 3; Ps. lxix. 29 [A. V. 28]; Dan. xii. 1; see Charles, "Book of Enoch," pp. 131-133). Hence the prayer: "Enter us in the Book of Life" ( (image) , "inscribe us"; but (image) , "seal us," that is, "seal our fate"—in the closing prayer on the Day of Atonement). Hence also the formula of salutation on New-Year's Eve: "May you be inscribed [in the Book of Life] for a happy year." In letters written between New-Year and the Day of Atonement, the writer usually concludes by wishing the recipient that God may seal his fate for happiness ( (image) ). Thus, in late Judaism, features that were originally peculiar to New-Year's Day were transferred to the Day of Atonement. The belief that on the first day of the year the destiny of all human beings was fixed was also that of the Assyrians. Marduk is said to come at the beginning of the year ("rish shatti") and decide the fate of one's life (Schrader, "K. B." iii., second div., 14 et seq.).

Rabbinic Aspects of Atonement.

The Day of Atonement survived the cessation of the sacrificial cult (in the year 70). "Though no sacrifices be offered, the day in itself effects atonement" (Sifra, Emor, xiv.). Yet both Sifra and the Mishnah teach that the day avails nothing unless repentance be coupled with it (Yoma viii. 8). Repentance was the indispensable condition for all the various means of atonement. Repentance must unquestionably accompany a guiltor sin-offering (Lev. v. 5; Maimonides, "Yad," Teshubah, i. 1). Penitent confession was a requisite for expiation through capital or corporal punishment (Sanh. vi. 2; Maimonides, ib.). "The Day of Atonement absolves from sins against God, but not from sins against a fellow man unless the pardon of the offended person be secured" (Yoma viii. 9). Hence the custom of terminating on the eve of the fastday all feuds and disputes (Yoma 87a; Maimonides, ib.ii.9 et seq.). Even the souls of the dead are included in the community of those pardoned on the Day of Atonement. It is customary for children to have public mention made in the synagogue of their departed parents, and to make charitable gifts on behalf of their souls (Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 621, 6). But no amount of charity will avail the soul of a wicked man (Ṭure Zahab to Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 249, note 5).

The Liturgy.

The service in the synagogue opens in the evening with the Kol Nidre. The devotions during the day are continuous from morning until evening. Much prominence is given to the liturgical pieces in which the Temple ceremonial is recounted ('Abodah service; Zunz, "Literaturgesch." pp. 27 et seq., 64 et seq.). Ibn Gabirol's (image) ("Crown of Royalty") skilfully deals with the problem of sin: it is appended to the Sephardic liturgy for the evening service, and is also read by the more devout in the Ashkenazic synagogues. In the center of the older liturgy is the confession of sins. "For we are not so bold of face and stiff-necked as to say to Thee, We are righteous and have not sinned; but, of a truth, we are sinners. . . . May it be Thy will that I sin no more; be pleased to purge away my past sins, according to Thy great mercy, only not through severe chastisements." The traditional melodies with their plaintive tones endeavor to give expression alike to the individual's awe before the uncertainties of fate and to a people's moan for its departed glories. On the Day of Atonement the pious Jew becomes forgetful of the flesh and its wants, and, banishing hatred, ill-feeling, and all ignoble thoughts, seeks to be occupied exclusively with things spiritual. However rigorously the rabbinical law may insist on the outward manifestation of contrition, the corrective is provided for in the lessons from the Prophets (Isa. lviii.; Jonah; see Ta'anit ii. 1), which teach that the true fast-day in which God delights is a spirit of devotion, kindliness, and penitence. The serious character impressed upon the day from the time of its institution has been preserved to the present day. No matter how much else has fallen into desuetude, so strong is its hold upon the Jewish conscience that no Jew, unless he have cut himself entirely loose from the synagogue, will fail to observe the Day of Atonement by resting from his daily pursuits and attending service in the synagogue. With a few exceptions, the service even of the Reformed synagogue is continuous through the day.

Analysis of Sources.

— Critical View:

The Pentateuchal references to the Day of Atonement cited in the preceding belong to the Priestly Code, but by no means to one and the same stratum. Lev. xvi., which is entirely devoted to the subject of the fast-day, is apparently composite in origin, as is shown by the incongruity at the beginning: "Aaron shall not enter the Holy of Holies at all times" (verse 2); he may, however, it may be inferred, go in at stated intervals. But the immediate sequel (verses 3 et seq.) rather says: With such and such ceremonies Aaron may go in; only toward the end (verses 29-34) reference is made to the annual celebration of a Day of Atonement. The rabbinical interpretation is obviously harmonistic (see Rashi on verses 2 et seq.); yet there are dissenting voices (see Lev. R., § 21; Ex. R., § 38) which maintain that, while entering the Holy of Holies is obligatory on the Day of Atonement, the high priest may go in at all times provided he carry out the ceremonies prescribed. Observe also the repetitions in verses 6 and 11a; hence the duplicated confession in the Mishnah,verses 29a and 34a.

Analysis of Lev. xvi.

According to the analysis of Benzinger (in Stade's "Zeitschrift," 1889, pp. 65-89), the chapter is made up of three distinct strata: (1) verses 1-4, 6, 12, 13, 34b (omitting several glosses), dealing with the manner (no matter what the occasion) of Aaron's entering the Holy of Holies; (2) verses 29b-34a, a law very much like that of Lev. xxiii. 26 et seq., prescribing the annual observance of a day of fasting and rest, on which the sanctuary and the people are to be purified, presumably by such simple rites of atonement as those carried out on the occasion of the dedication of the tabernacle (Lev. ix.; the Day of Atonement is thus an annual occasion of rededication); (3) verses 5, 7-10, 14-28, of later date than (2), ordaining a more elaborate ceremonial. With (3) goes Ex. xxx. 10. Lev. xxv. 9b is probably a gloss (the surrounding text mainly belongs to H). No mention is made of the Day of Atonement in the older codes, J, E, and D (Ex. xxiii. 14-17; xxiv. 18, 22 et seq.; Deut. xvi. 1-17).

History of the Institution.

The beginnings of the institution may in the critical view be sought for in Ezekiel. In addition to the festivals of Passover and Tabernacles, the prophet ordains two days in the year on which the sanctuary may be cleansed, by the sprinkling of a bullock's blood, from all impurities occasioned through inadvertence: the first day of the first month, and the first day of the seventh (so read with LXX; Ezek. xlv. 18-20); that is, with the beginning of both the civil (in the spring) and the ecclesiastical year (in autumn). It appears (from Lev. xxv. 9; Ezek. xl. 1) that the new-year was then made to begin with the tenth day of the month. In the Pentateuchal legislation the second alone of Ezekiel's Days of Atonement is kept; it is at the same time transferred to the tenth day of the month, while the first day is made into New-Year's Day, the two days changing places. From the simple rites prescribed by the prophet of the Exile to the elaborate ceremonial of the latest strata in P, there is, however, a lengthy process. Stated days of fasting, mentioned for the first time by Zechariah (vii. 1-5), clearly refer to the anniversaries of national calamities (the murder of Gedaliah took place in the seventh month; Jer. xli. 1). No other regular day of fasting was known to the prophet; otherwise he would have mentioned it when he reiterated the indifference of the old prophets to outward ceremonial. Even when Ezra comes to Palestine in the year 444, a day of fasting is observed, not on the tenth but on the twenty-fourth of the seventh month, and by no means according to the ceremonial of Lev. xvi. (Neh. ix. 1). The law of Ezra may have contained the simpler prescription of Lev. xxiii. 26 et seq., and the corresponding stratum in chapter xvi.; the day was certainly not considered then of the importance that it assumed in the times subsequent to Ezra. See also Liturgy, Sin.

Bibliography: Yoma: Mishnah, Talmud, and Asheri; Maimonides, (image) , and (image) ; Ṭur and Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, §§ 602-624; Nowack, Hebr. Archäologie, 1894, ii. 183-194; Driver, Leviticus, English translation and notes, in S. B. O. T.; Jastrow, in American Journal of Theology, 1898, i. 312 et seq.; B. Wechsler, Zur Geschichte der Versöhnungsfeier, in Geiger's Jüd. Zeit. 1863, pp. 113-125; S. Adler, in Stade's Zeitschrift, ii. 178 et seq., 272.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
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File:Gottlieb-Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom
Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur is a painting by Maurycy Gottlieb, done in 1878
File:Yom Kippur on Highway 20
A highway that is normally busy in Tel Aviv, on Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is a Jewish festival. It is also known as the day of attonement. It lasts 25 hours. During this period, Jews ask God to forgive them for all their sins. People fast on this day, and they have to go to temple. Yom Kippur is the tenth day of the month of Tishrei. According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person's fate for the coming year into a "book" on Rosh Hashanah and waits until Yom Kippur to "seal" the verdict. During the Days of Awe, a Jew tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God (bein adam le'Makom) and against other human beings (bein adam lechavero). The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt (Vidui). At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers one's self wikt:absolved by God.

The Yom Kippur prayer service includes several unique aspects. One is the actual number of prayer services. Unlike a regular day, which has three prayer services (Ma'ariv, the evening prayer; Shacharit, the morning prayer; and Mincha, the afternoon prayer), or a Shabbat or Yom Tov, which have four prayer services (Ma'ariv; Shacharit; Musaf, the additional prayer; and Mincha), Yom Kippur has five prayer services (Ma'ariv; Shacharit; Musaf; Mincha; and Ne'ilah, the closing prayer). The prayer services also include a public confession of sins (Vidui) and a unique prayer dedicated to the special Yom Kippur avodah (service) of the Kohen Gadol in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Yom Kippur is considered one of the holiest of Jewish holidays and it is observed by many secular Jews who may not observe other holidays. Many secular Jews fast and attend synagogue on Yom Kippur, where the number of worshippers attending is often double or triple the normal attendance. Many other Jews choose not to fast

Things people are not allowed to do during Yom Kippur include washing, using perfumes or lotions, having any kind of sexual intercourse, eating or drinking.

Many wear white as a symbol of purity.


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