Yom Kippur is one of two Jewish High Holy Days. The first High Holy Day is Rosh Hashanah. Yom Kippur falls ten days after Rosh Hashanah on the 10th of Tishrei, which is a Hebrew month that joins with September-October on the secular calendar. The purpose of Yom Kippur is to bring about reconciliation between people, individuals and God. According to Jewish tradition, it is also the day when God decides the fate of each human being.
While most of the holidays originating in the Bible have their place on the calendar, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur do not actually fit this. The rabbis tell us that the 10th of Tishrei was the day when Moses completed and brought down the second set of commandments from Sinai and showing that God had granted payment for the sin of the Golden Calf. This rabbinic view lends historical significance to the unexplained placement of the holiday 10 days after Rosh Hashanah.
On the eve of Yom Kippur while there is still daylight, Jews gather all across the globe wearing white. They show their tallitot and Kol Nidre is chanted with a sense of pride and melody. Confession is an important part of repentance. Repentance cannot be just a thought like other thoughts that come and go in a person’s mind. By confessing one’s sins out loud, it becomes something much more real. A person must come to the complete understanding that the sins he committed are wrong and cannot be forgotten. A Jew prays three times a day on weekdays. On Shabbat and Holidays, including Rosh Hashanah a fourth service is added in memory of the additional sacrifices given on these days in the Temple in Jerusalem. On Yom Kippur, yet a fifth service is added. The extra service that is unique to Yom Kippur is called Neilah.
Fasting is not intended to punish ourselves for our sins. Rather, fasting is to help us help our physical nature. Without worrying…