A holy day observed on the tenth day of the month of
Tishri (the first month of the Jewish calendar), marked by fasting and
prayer for the atonement of sins. Also called Day of Atonement. Occurs
in September or October.
Yom Kippur climaxes the observance of the Ten Penitential Days, which
begin with Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, and is the most sacred of Jewish
holidays. With Rosh Hashanah it constitutes the so-called High
Holy Days. Yom Kippur is a day of confession, repentance, and
prayers for forgiveness of sins committed during the year against God's
laws and covenant. It is also the day on which an individual's fate
for the ensuing year is thought to be sealed. Jews observe the day by
a rigorous fast and nearly unbroken prayer.
The months of the Jewish year are:
1) Tishri; 2) Cheshvan (also Marcheshvan); 3) Kislev; 4) Tebet (also
Tebeth); 5) Shebat (also Shebhat); 6) Adar; 6a) Adar Sheni (II) added
in leap years; 7) Nisan; 8) Iyar; 9) Sivan; 10) Tammuz; 11) Av (also
Abh); 12) Elul.
All Jewish holy days, etc., begin at sunset on the previous day.
Yom Kippur was on the following days, 1996-2000:
Sept 23 (Mon.), 1996; Oct. 11 (Sat.), 1997; Sept. 30 (Wed.), 1998; Sept.
20 (Mon.), 1999; Oct. 9 (Mon), 2000.
The Jewish High Holy Days (or Ten Penitential Days)
begin with Rosh Hashana and continue until Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur, the
day of atonement, or more correctly Yom ha-Kippurim (Leviticus 16) goes
back to Jewish antiquity almost 4,000 years to the time of Moses. This
most solemn occasion of the Jewish Festival cycle was the season for
annual cleansing from sin, but in time its significance was deepened
so that it acquired personal meaning and filled a private need. It is
observed on the 10th day of Tishri, the seventh month, and is the climax
of the whole penitentialseason. Originally, on one day of the year the
high priest would enter into the innermost part of the Tabernacle (and
later the Temple in Jerusalem). He would enter the Holy of Holies with
the blood of the sacrifice which was for the sin of the people as a
congregation, and sprinkle it upon the 'mercy seat' of the Ark of the
Covenant. This would 'cover' the sin of the people, as this is what
the Aramaic (and Hebrew) root 'kapar' (atonement) means. With the destruction
of the Temple in 70 A.D., later Rabbinic legislation adapted the old
ritual to the synagogue. The blasts of the 'shofar' the ritual ram's
horn trumpet, signify, among other things, the inarticulate cry of the
soul to God. In later times, there is a whole body of Jewish law requiring
the individual to seek forgiveness from one another. This a part of
the Mishneh Torah - a distillation of Jewish law based in the Hebrew
Bible and the Talmud - written by the great 12th-century Jewish philosopher
and legal authority Maimonides. It calls for an attention to requests
for forgiveness from family, friends and associates for the offenses
of the past year. The body of law, lore and custom surrounding repentance,
forgiveness and the Day of Atonement is immense, and has grown since
the time of Maimonides.