This day will be observed on October 09, 2019

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is one of the holiest days on the Jewish calendar, when the fate of each person is sealed for the upcoming year. This Day of Atonement is spent in intense fasting and prayer, but how can we truly become purified from our sins?

Resources

podcast
podcast

In Acharei Mot, we learn about the priest’s Yom Kippur service in the Tabernacle. But, interestingly, the language in this section is strikingly similar to the story of Megillat Esther. What does Yom Kippur have to do with Esther?

guide
guide

Yom Kippur is the culmination of ten days of repentance, starting from the Jewish New Year. Our Rosh Hashanah videos will guide your path to repentance, and help you arrive at Yom Kippur spiritually and mentally prepared.

About Yom Kippur

Ten days after the new year, Yom Kippur is a fast day spent in prayer requesting forgiveness for personal and national sins. Historically, on this day, the High Priest was allowed to enter the innermost chamber of the Temple, purifying the nation of its sins with his completion of the service.

After God revealed Himself to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, He instructed them to build the Mishkan, or “resting place” as a place for Him to dwell among the people. The Mishkan, and later the Beit haMikdash (the Temple in Jerusalem), were great gifts to the nation – the chance to always be “near” God, so to speak. But they also presented a danger – if anyone were to come too close, or to somehow violate or disrespect God’s place, the consequences could be severe. In fact, two of the sons of the first Kohen Gadol, or High Priest, attempted to enter the Mishkan improperly, and they died as a result.

However, God set aside one day each year during which the High Priest would be allowed to enter the innermost chamber of the Temple, coming as close to God as possible.

The procedure for the High Priest to follow involved numerous offerings, ritual purifications, the donning of special clothes and a nationwide fast. Through the High Priest's successful completion of the service, the nation would be purified from its sins. This day is Yom Kippur.

Today, despite the lack of a Temple, Yom Kippur is a very powerful day for the Jewish people. The day is spent in prayers focus on repentance, requests for forgiveness, and a recounting of the Temple service. A 25-hour fast is observed, and this fast includes restrictions beyond food, such as wearing shoes and bathing.

But what is the connection between encountering God and becoming purified from sin? What is the deeper meaning behind the parts of the High Priest’s service? And today, when we have no priests, nor Temple, is there another way for us to come close to God on Yom Kippur? The videos and guides above will guide you to find meaning in this deeply spiritual day.