Traditional Jewish observances (some are not in Torah and may be construed as abominable!) include the following:
Yom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר, IPA: [ˈjɔm 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 synogogue 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, Elohim inscribes each person's fate for the coming year into a "book" on Rosh Hashanah (According to THEIR tradition) 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 Elohim and against other human beings. 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 Elohim.
The ten days starting with Yom Teruah/Day of Trumpets and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur.
One of the ongoing themes of the Days of Awe is the concept that Elohim has "books" that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on in this time, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter Elohim’s decree. The actions that change the decree are "teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah," repentance, prayer, good deeds (usually, charity). These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur. This concept of writing in books is the source of the common greeting during this time is "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."
Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and Elohim. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.
Another custom observed during this time is kapparot. This is rarely practiced today, and is observed in its true form only by Chasidic and occasionally Orthodox Jews. Basically, you purchase a live fowl, and on the morning before Yom Kippur you wave it over your head reciting a prayer asking that the fowl be considered atonement for sins. The fowl is then slaughtered and given to the poor (or its value is given). Some Jews today simply use a bag of money instead of a fowl. Most Reform and Conservative Jews have never even heard of this practice.
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. Other Jews choose not to fast.
Six additional prohibitions are traditionally observed, as detailed in the Jewish oral tradition (Mishnah tractate Yoma 8:1):
1. No eating and drinking (Torah Observant)
2. No wearing of leather shoes (nowhere in Torah concerning Yom Kippur)
3. No bathing or washing (nowhere in Torah concerning Yom Kippur)
4. No anointing oneself with perfumes or lotions (nowhere in Torah concerning Yom Kippur)
5. No marital relations (nowhere in Torah concerning Yom Kippur) Although in Lev 15:18 one could be considered unclean when having relations, therefore making this traditional command a "common sense" observance. Also with regards to a fast see 1Cor 7:5 about marital relations.
6. No dealing with money [with an exception of games which use play money]
Total abstention from food and drink usually begins 30 minutes before sundown (called tosefet Yom Kippur, literally means. "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.
Main article: Kol Nidre Erev Yom Kippur (literally means. "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.
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 Elohim—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”, and it goes like this:
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.
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.
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. They also wear a tallit, as they may also do on Shabbat and on other holidays. 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 Elohim'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 reciting of Shema Yisrael and the blowing of the shofar, which marks the conclusion of the fast.
Over time, more and more importance was placed on Yom Kippur as it also became known as the Day of Judgment - the culmination of the 10 days of repentance. To the Rabbis, Yom Kippur marked the climax of the trial of the people; it was when Elohim sealed names in the book of life, or in the book of death. The Rabbis added abstentions that must be followed on Yom Kippur which included eating, drinking, bathing, wearing leather shoes (the most comfortable at the time), and sexual relations. Because Jews go by the lunar calendar, Yom Kippur begins at sunset, and ends one hour after sunset of the following day totaling 25 hours.
Yom Kippur is so important to the Jews that it is sometimes referred to as "the Sabbath of Sabbaths" and is the only fast day that can fall on Saturday (the weekly Sabbath). The day is spent in Synagogue praying and supplicating to Elohim to be sealed in the book of Life. Yom Kippur is not a sad day; it is a day of reflection and atonement. Fasting is used not as a punishment, but as a cleansing of the body as well as the spirit.
Some Jews stay in the synagogue all day and only take one small break between prayers. Because the day is very important, there are 5 different prayer services instead of the 4 that appear on a regular Sabbath. Yom Kippur ends with a long resonating Shofar blast followed by the breaking of the fast; this marks the end of the 10 day long period of repentance and reflection.
Many of the above observances could be considered edifying to the Holiness of Yom Kippur. However some of the traditional observances were not sanctified by Torah and actually contradict canonized Scripture.
Many scholars state that the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur does not appear before Leviticus 16 but lets look at Exodus 30 and maybe we can see something in the passage that is similar to Yom Kippur:
And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it.
A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be: and two cubits shall be the height thereof: the horns thereof shall be of the same.
And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about.
And two golden rings shalt thou make to it under the crown of it, by the two corners thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make it; and they shall be for places for the staves to bear it withal.
And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.
And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.
And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it.
And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before Yahweh throughout your generations.
Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meal offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.
And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto Yahweh.
Interesting Scriptures follow this “Once a year” Atonement we keep reading as follows:
And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying,
When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto Yahweh, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.
This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: a shekel is twenty gerahs: an half shekel shall be the offering of Yahweh.
Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto Yahweh.
The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto Yahweh, to make an atonement for your souls.
And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before Yahweh, to make an atonement for your souls.
Most will attribute Exodus 30, as the command to give a tabernacle/temple tax. But is there more for us there, possibly pointing to Yom Kippur?
Leviticus 16 is where we will find much debated theology concerning this Day:
And Yahweh spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before Yahweh, and died; And Yahweh said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.
Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.
He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.
And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.
And he shall take the two goats, and present them before Yahweh at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for Yahweh, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which Yahweh's lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.
But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before Yahweh, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.
And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself:
And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before Yahweh, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail:
And he shall put the incense upon the fire before Yahweh, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:
And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.
Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:
And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.
And he shall go out unto the altar that is before Yahweh, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.
And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat:
And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there:
And he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people, and make an atonement for himself, and for the people. And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar.
And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp.
And the bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung.
And he that burneth them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp.
And this shall be a statute forever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:
For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before Yahweh.
It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments:
And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.
And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as Yahweh commanded Moses.
The above Scriptures conflict greatly with the Jewish tradition of not bathing or washing on Yom Kippur.
Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh.
And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before Yahweh your Elohim.
For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.
And by the good hand of our Elohim upon us they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen;
And Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brethren and their sons, twenty;
Also of the Nethinims, whom David and the princes had appointed for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinims: all of them were expressed by name.
Then I proclaimed a fast (H6685) there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our Elohim, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.
For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our Elohim is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.
NOTE: “fast H6685” Also see Isaiah 58:3-6 for examples of “afflict souls" in conjunction with fast.
Lets go back to Leviticus, this time chapter 25:
And Yahweh spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto Yahweh.
Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for Yahweh: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.
That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.
And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee,
And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.
And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
Proof that Atonement begins the Sabbatical Year
Scriptures 1998 below:
‘You shall then sound a ram’s horn (shofar-teruah) to pass through on the tenth day of the seventh month, on the Day of Atonement cause a ram’s horn to pass through all your land. (This is better translated in the Scriptures 1998 version)
On to Numbers 29:
And ye shall have on the tenth day of this seventh month an holy convocation; and ye shall afflict your souls: ye shall not do any work therein:
But ye shall offer a burnt offering unto Yahweh for a sweet savour; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year; they shall be unto you without blemish:
And their meal offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals to a bullock, and two tenth deals to one ram, a several tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs:
One kid of the goats for a sin offering; beside the sin offering of atonement, and the continual burnt offering, and the meal offering of it, and their drink offerings.
And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not permitting us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone;
And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lassa. Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.
Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.
In conclusion we find that atonement can be a time of introspect, self-examination, repentance, and self-discipline. Many of the Jewish traditions follow along those lines. As for the traditions that don’t align themselves with Scriptures we are to avoid them and continue to keep our faith and practices as True Believers pure and untainted. We can then hope to one day be told “Good and Faithful Servant”!