Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
and Separating the Facts from Fiction concerning Traditions and True
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 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.
DAYS OF AWE:
The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah 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
Rosh Hashanah, 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. Many 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
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
6. No dealing with money [with an exception of games which use play
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
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
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. Many 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 Leviticus16 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
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
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.
Exo 30:15 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
And Yahweh spake unto Moses after the
death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before Yahweh, and
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
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
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.
Lev 16:10 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
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
Lev 16:13 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
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
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:
Lev 16:30 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
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
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
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
And whatsoever soul it be that doeth
any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among
Ye shall do no manner of work: it
shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your
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
Ezra 8 explains “Afflict” and its association with “fast”
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;
Ezra 8:19 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 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
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
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
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:
Lev 25:9 ‘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
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
New Testament example for Yom Kippur in Acts 27:
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
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