I hope everyone is recharged and had a beautiful Rosh Hashanah, both spiritually and physically. I certainly did and am feeling enthused and positive about the new year. As Yom Kippur is fast approaching, now would be a good time to get practical and talk about what to do both in preparation, as well as on the day of. So here’s a practical guide to Yom Kippur – your Yom Kippur How To – before and during Yom Kippur…
These are the things we are not allowed to do on Yom Kippur:
1- Work: All work (melacha) that is forbidden on Shabbat is also forbidden on Yom Kippur. So, having said that, let me just say that if you have not yet discussed with your employer about taking the day off (and by day I mean, taking off somewhat early next Tuesday and not going back to work until Thursday morning – and yes, being away from email and phone until Wednesday night) this might be the time to do it! I know even in this day and age, the conversation can be hard, but that doesn’t mean you mustn’t do it. Go for it.
2- Eating or Drinking: Goes without saying, that one must not eat or drink anything on Yom Kippur. Of course, if you have some sort of medical condition and need guidance on how to perform the mitzvah, this is the time to call a local Rav who is trained in the halachot of Yom Kippur, and provide him with the information that he needs to guide you as to how and what you will need to do or not do on Yom Kippur. (Caveat: while your doctor’s opinion is necessary and important, please please bring your medical information and doctor’s opinion to a competent Rav. Do not make a decision on your own without consulting a Rav.)
On Erev Yom Kippur (Tuesday afternoon), however, it is a mitzvah to eat! I know a lot of people focus on “break fast” and have plans weeks in advance for the “break fast,” can I just tell you a little secret… break fast is nice and all, but eating pre-fast, that’s the mitzvah! So gather your friends and families and have a festive beautiful meal, pre-fast, that will set you up for success during your 25 hour fast. Many have the custom to eat kreplach on Erev Yom Kippur. Remember also that the mitzvah of Yom Kippur is to fast. Meaning, although it is ideal to go to shul – if attending shul is going to take away from the ability to fast properly, fasting takes precedence. Again, if you have a special circumstance regarding fasting, consult a Rav.
3- Washing: It is forbidden to wash any part of the body just for pleasure even if it’s with cold water. One may however, wash their hands after leaving the bathroom. So, skip the spa, shower on Tuesday afternoon, and focus your mind on the day itself on Wednesday. You will be fine.
4- Smearing Oil: It is forbidden to rub oil anywhere on one’s body. Again, skip the spa, ladies. Practically speaking, applying makeup might fall under this category as well as under one above (work or melacha), so yeah, sorry, put on your make up on Tuesday afternoon if you want to and off you go, no touch ups for 25 hours.
5- Wearing Leather Shoes: A sign of humility and of having let go of physical pleasures. No leather on your shoes, nada, zero, zilch…
6- Marital Relations: Pretty Clear. In the event that your mikvah night falls on Yom Kippur, it gets pushed off until after Yom Kippur (Wednesday night). Call your local Rav for more detailed instructions on what preparations you need to do before Yom Kippur and what you can leave for after Yom Kippur and be sure to call your mikvah attendant to make an appointment ahead of time.
G’mar Chatima Tova!
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