Otherwise known as the day of atonement among the Jews, Yom Kippur is the most significant and sacred day of the year among the Jews. “Yom” is a Hebrew word that translates to “day” while “Kippur” translates to “expiate”. In biblical terms, Yom Kippur is closely associated with the kapparet or the Ark cover. In the Bible, Yom Kippur can be located in Numbers 29: 7-11 and in Leviticus 16: 1-34; 18: 1-30. The Bible calls this day the Sabbath of Sabbaths.
Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah (New Year in Judaism) are closely connected. While Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the high holy days among those who practice Judaism, the Yom Kippur completes these holy days. Rosh Hashanah begins on the first day of Tishri while Yom Kippur falls on the tenth day of Tishri. In the year 2018, Yom Kippur will fall on the Wednesday of September 19. The day begins when the sun sets in the previous day at night in the scheduled day.
The background of the day can be traced back to the times of Moses and the Israelites. After the people had sinned, Moses went up Mount Sinai to pray for God’s forgiveness and returned to Tishri’s 10 th ; the day of atonement.
Since then the practice has been perpetuated by the Jews. From the time of Solomon, when the first Temple was built in Jerusalem alone until the time of the second Temple built by Ezra. After the destruction of the second Temple, Yom Kippur continued in the hearts and other temples of the Jews.
Rituals and customs
The day before the appointed day, people prepare for the day by doing things like east, two festive meals in the early afternoon and just before the fast begins. Extraordinary prayers in the morning, light candles, seek and forgive, bless the children before beginning fasting, engage in charity and do kapparots and sometimes mikvah rituals. This ritual is performed very early in the morning.
On the day of Yom Kippur, unlike other normal days with only three services, five services are held in the Temple. These services include unique confessions and prayers. The Bible calls this a day of rest and therefore no work is done. Furthermore, there are five restrictions imposed on all those who observe the day.
The number five is of particular importance to Jews because it is an established number. The number refers to several things including the five names of the soul, Yom Kippur who has five prayer services, the Kohen Gadol washed five times in the ritual bath and the word soul is repeated five times in the Yom Kippur part of the Torah .
The five restrictions imposed on Jews are: no drinks or food, no leather shoes, no washes or baths, no perfumes and no marital relationships. Beyond that, the day is one for introspection and reflection as you ask God for forgiveness. The Jews also recite the psalms whenever they can.