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Halachot - Jewish laws, of Yom Kippur.


(Halachot were collected from many sources and modified into this document).

Aseret Ye'mei Teshuva

The period between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are called the Ten Days of Repentance. Or in Hebrew it is known as the Aeret Yemei Teshuva.

On Rosh Hashana, the righteous and the wicked receive their judgment. One should not see himself as wicked or be so presumptuous as to consider himself righteous. Therefore we have 10 days to improve and tip the scales to the side of righteousness. Yom Kippur is the culmination of this period.

During the Ten Days of Teshuva, Jews engage in intense introspection for the purpose of self-improvement. We become more scrupulous in the observance of mitzvot.

The Custom of KAPAROT

If God ruled the world by strict justice, then every time a person would do something purposely wrong, a giant 100-ton weight would fall from the sky and squash him.....

Fortunately for us, God also rules by mercy and allows us to gain atonement.


One of the methods of atonement is through the ritual of Kaparot. This is done by taking a chicken, or money, and waving it around your head three times. The chicken is then slaughtered and given to charity (as is the money if used in place of the chicken).

The point of using a chicken is to show us the volatility of life. One minute the chicken is alive the next minute it's not. And if God had ruled by strict justice, our lives might have gone as fast as the chicken's!

This will certainly help a person understand the severity of the Ten Days of Teshuva.

While swinging the chicken (or money) above your head, say:

"This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my atonement. This rooster is going to die (or this money will go to charity), but I am going to a good long life and to peace."

The full text can be found in any siddur or Yom Kippur Machzor.


The Four Categories of Atonement for Sins


The Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Maimonides, Spain-Egypt, 1135-1204), in the first chapter of his Hilchot Teshuva (listen to audio for precise citation), identifies four categories of sin with respect to the necessary means of achieving atonement:


  1. One who neglects to perform a Misvat Ase, one of the Torah's affirmative commands, earns atonement immediately upon his performance of Teshuva (repentance).  Thus, for example, if a person does not take a Lulav or sit in the Sukka on Sukkot, once he confesses and sincerely repents for his wrongdoing, his sin is atoned.

  2. The second category consists of standard Misvot Lo Ta'aseh – Torah prohibitions that are not punishable by Mitat Bet Din (court execution) or Karet (eternal excision from the Jewish people).  Sins in this category, such as wearing clothes containing Shaatnez (a combination of wool and linen), are atoned through repentance and the observance of Yom kippur.

  3. For prohibitions that carry a punishment of Mitat Bet Din or Karet, one does not earn complete atonement by performing Teshuva and observing Yom kippur.Atonement is possible for these transgressions only by enduring Yisurim – suffering, Heaven forbid – in addition to Teshuva and the Yom kippur observance.One example of this category of sin is Shabbat desecration.

  4. The Rambam concludes by noting that if one created a Hillul Hashem – desecration of God's Name – such as if he committed a sin publicly – then he cannot achieve complete atonement until death, Heaven forbid.Even after repentance, Yom kippur, and suffering, a sin of Hillul Hashem, given its particularly grievous nature, is not fully erased until the violator dies.

Changes in the prayers

There are several small but important changes in the daily prayers that should be noted.

In the "SELIHOT" we add special parts for these 10 days, in addition to the regular Selihot that is recite from the 2nd of Elul.

These are the changes to be made in the "Amidah:" 

  • In the first blessing, we add the sentence "Zachreinu l'chaim."


  • In the second blessing, we add the phrase "Mi Chamocha." 


  • In the third blessing, we conclude with "Hamelech Hakadosh," instead of the usual "Ha'El Hakadosh." If this is not done, the entire Amidah must be repeated. (The other additions do not require one to repeat the Amidah.) 


  • In the 11th blessing, we conclude with "Hamelech Hamishpat," in place of "Melech Ohave Tzedekah U'mishpat." 


  • In the 18th blessing ("Modim"), we add the sentence "U'ch'tov l'haim." 


  • In the final blessing ("Sim Shalom") we add the sentence "U'B'sefer haim." 


The prayer "Avinu Malkeinu" is said after the repetition of the "Amidah" in the morning and Minha.


Mikveh is a ‘bath’ used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism. The word "mikveh", as used in the Hebrew Bible, literally means a "collection" – generally, a collection of water.


It is proper for men to immerse in a Mikveh on Erev Yom Kippur in honor of the holiday.

This should preferably be done after Hatzot (midday as defined by Halacha), which generally occurs at approximately 1pm, but if a man wants to immerse during the

morning hours, this is also acceptable.

No Shiva on Yom Kippur

If a mourner is observing Shiva, Heaven forbid,

the onset of Yom Kippur ends the Shiva observance. Even if the mourner did not complete seven days of Shiva, the mourning period ends with the onset of Yom Kippur, and he gets up from Shiva on Erev Yom Kippur.

The five prohibitions of Yom Kippur

  1. No eating / drinking as on Yom Kippur

  2. No Showering / No use of water unless absolutely necessary

  3. No lotion of any kind

  4. No wearing leather shoes

  5. No marital relations

Leather on Yom Kippur

click here to read about this:

Shabbat Shalom

Shanah Tova

שבת שלום


Rabbi Sasson



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