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Yom Kippur Essay

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. According to Molloy (2010), “To atone means to make up for one’s faults, and this day has traditionally been kept by prayer and strict fasting, with no food or drink during the entire day” (p. 325). Yom Kippur also has an additional name, Yom HaDin, meaning the “Day of Judgment” (www.myjewishlearning.com, 2011, pp. 3). This day is to confess all sins to God and ask for forgiveness to Him and the persons whom one has done wrong to in the past year. Once confessions have are made and forgiveness has been granted, the day extends to cleansing the spirit and bringing blessings to the New Year and one’s faithfulness to God. Enclosed in this essay are the time of year Yom Kippur is, the history, the religious practices, differences between other religious holidays, and this holy day. Time of Year

Jewish holy days focus on and are commonly centralized on the earth’s rotations around the moon, also known as the lunar calendar. Unlike many other religions and people use, the calendar year as how the earth rotates around the sun (www.jewfaq.org, 2008). The Tanakh (Jewish Bible) quotes, “The tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be a sacred occasion for you: You shall practice self-denial” (Leviticus 23:27). Yom Kippur begins at sunset and extends until dusk of the next day, 25 hours in total (www.jewfaq.org, 2008).


Myjewishlearning.com (2011) contends, “While most of the holidays originating in the Bible have their logical place on the agricultural calendar, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur do not necessarily fit that mold. The rabbis tell us that the 10th of Tishrei was the day on which Moses completed and brought down the second set of commandments from Sinai, signifying that God had granted atonement for the sin of the Golden calf. This rabbinic interpretation lends historical significance to the otherwise unexplained placement of the holiday 10 days after Rosh Hashanah” (pp. 6).

Religious Practices the Day Before Yom Kippur

The religious practices of Yom Kippur in fact, begin the day before. Seven rituals are practiced for this day including the eating the first meal of the day, kaparot, praying for forgiveness of sins, immerse in mikvah, ask, and receive lekach, participate in Minchah, eating the final meal of the day, and the lighting of the candle (www.chabad.org, 2011). Aside from eating plentiful to prepare for Yom Kippur, there are six practices completed throughout the day in which three are described in detail below:

Mikvah Mikvah is a tradition for men to repent and come clean before Yom Kippur starts. This ritual consists of immersing oneself in a ritual pool three times; once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once right after the final meal of the day before Yom Kippur commences. The purpose of Mikva is to repent and become a new person (www.chabad.org, 2011).

Lekach Lekach is sweet honey cake. A Rabbi or mentor gives it as gifts not only to bring a sweet year to each person, but also to give praise for the goodness and passion on exhumed in the previous year (www.chabad.org, 2011). Minchah

There are two rituals connected to Minchah. The first is receiving “lashes.” Lashes are a symbol reminding a person to repent. In this ritual the person will kneel facing north while a person conducts lashes or taps one the person’s body; starting on the right shoulder, to the left shoulder and to the small of the person’s back. A verse from the bible, “But He is merciful, He wipes away iniquity and does not destroy; many times He takes back His wrath and does not arouse all His anger,” will be stated, one word per tap as this is conducted. This motion will be done 39 times to complete the ritual. The second ritual for Minchah is praying for a confession of all sins committed throughout the year (www.chabad.org, 2011).

Religious Practices on the Day of Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur consists of five services while afflicting oneself. Affliction is not to harm oneself, but to fast from five basic necessities in one’s life. The five necessities, which are prohibited on this day are eating, drinking, bathing or washing, wearing any form of leather, conducting marital relations, and anointing oneself of any “beauty” supplies that disguises who a person is. The beauty supplies can be anything from soaps, oils, and perfumes; to alcohol. This is to strip the person down to bring the effect of fully coming clean into a new year.

The five services of Yom Kippur are Kol Nidrei, morning, Musaf, afternoon, and closing services. Kol Nidrei is held at the sundown of Yom Kippur eve. Kol Nidrei means “all vows,” which closes the day of repenting and binds one’s promises for the coming year. The morning service consists of prayers and priestly blessings from the High Priest. It also includes a Yizkor service for people who have lost their parents. Others, who have not lost their parent(s) leave this service to advocate a long life for the living parents. The Musaf service is another priestly three-fold blessing. Last, the closing services involve closing the previous year and bringing blessings into the New Year through prayer and praise (www.chabad.org, 2011).


Yom Kippur is an aspiring religion when it concerns to fasting. The contrasts between Christian religions are diverse in many ways and at the same time they are very different. Every religion has a certain way of fasting, but the purposes are different. Jewish communities fast on Yom Kippur to erase all sins conducted throughout the past year. Christians fast to withhold food in pursuit of charity and giving back to others.

Catholic’s practice communion to remember God. The bread and wine is to remember God and how he died on the cross. The bread symbolizes his last meal, also known as, the last supper, and the wine represents his blood. Jewish eat sweet honey cake on Yom Kippur to bring sweet and goodness into the coming year. Another difference is that Pagans also follow the lunar calendar, but the rituals are completely different. Jewish people focus on praying and Pagans focus on spells and rituals using tools from nature.


In conclusion, Yom Kippur is a day to cleanse spiritually and rejuvenate oneself. This day is to renew one’s vows to God and come clean of all sins conducted throughout the year. Yom Kippur focuses on praying, asking for forgiveness, and atonement. The ultimate goal of Yom Kippur is to rejoice one’s love and faithfulness to God.

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