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 Holiday Central > Yom Kippur > Preparation
Yom Kippur - Preparation
By: Rivka C. Berman, Contributor
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Preparing for Yom Kippur

The holy day of Yom Kippur marks the climax of the Ten Days of Repentance (Aseret Yemei Teshuvah). As such the day preceding Yom Kippur is replete with anticipation and special custom:

Festive meals
The eve of Yom Kippur is characterized by a solemn yet optimistic mood. It is a mitzvah to eat well before Yom Kippur. Some say that this reflects the joy and relief that the upcoming atonement will offer. Others suggest that, besides providing strength for the fast, a generous meal on the afternoon before Yom Kippur replaces the missing festive meal that accompanies Jewish holidays.
It is customary not to partake of fish or intoxicating drinks at this meal.

Charity
Since, according to tradition, the merit of charity shields against an unfavorable decree, it is customary to give in a liberal spirit before Yom Kippur.

Asking Forgiveness from Others
Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and God. It is essential for sins between man and his fellow "to be righted." It is thus meritorious to ask for forgiveness from those one might have wronged, and to forgive others in a liberal spirit.

Immersion in a Mikvah (Ritual Bath)
Many pious Jews immerse themselves in a ritual bath before the Day of Atonement in order to enter into the penitent spirit in as "pure" a manner as possible.

Honoring the Festival
We honor the festival with festive clothing and a Shabbat atmosphere in the house.

Customarily, Jews wear white on Yom Kippur, as it symbolizes purity and of the promise that as we repent and ask for forgiveness, God will transform our sins so they are “white as snow” (Is. 1:18). Many Jewish men wear a “Kittel,” a white cotton robe atop of their suit to remind themselves of human mortality. (Traditionally, Jews are buried in white sheaths.)

Candle Lighting and Blessings:

"Baruch ata A-do-nai eloheinu melech haolam asher kideshanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu lehadlik ner shel Shabbat veYom HaKippurim"

"Baruch ata A-do-nai eloheinu melech haolam shehecheyanu vekiymanu vehigianu lazman hazeh" which respectively usher in the Shabbat (this year) and festival, and express our gratitude to God for our living to enjoy this auspicious occasion.

Yahrzeit Candles
Many also light Yahrzeit candles for the departed, for: "The soul of man is the candle of God."

Mazor Guide for Yom Kippur brings you much more about the holiday, its meaning and its traditions... See the links below.

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