The following is meant as a convenient review of Halachos pertaining to Yom-Kippur. The Piskei Din for the most part are based purely on the Sugyos, Shulchan Aruch and Ramah, and the Mishna Berura, unless stated otherwise. They are based on my understanding of the aforementioned texts through the teachings of my Rebeim. As individual circumstances are often important in determining the psak in specific cases, and as there may be different approaches to some of the issues, one should always check with one’s Rov first.
Erev Yom Kippur:
- There is a prevalent Minhag to do Kaparos on Erev Yom Kippur. Kaparos are traditionally done with live chickens. There are those who are Noheg to do Kaparos with money instead of live chickens.
- The idea behind Kaparos is that the chickens/money is meant as a symbolic atonement (kaparah) for the person – should one be deserving of the death penalty (even Misa Beyedei Shamayim) the chicken (which is then shechted and given to Tzedaka), or the money, symbolically takes the place of the transgressor.
- Men and boys use roosters while women and girls use Hens. Expecting women take two – a rooster and a hen (even if they know that they are having a girl)
- One must be careful, when doing Kaparos with chickens not to do it in a way that will cause excessive pain to the chicken, and one should try not to cause the chicken to become a treifa.
- Most Jews of Hungarian or Polish descent do Kaparos on chickens, while Jews of German and Lithuanian origin either do it on money or not at all. Sephardim have varying Minhagim.
i. The Shulchan Aruch writes against doing Kaparos, and the Gra also is opposed to Kaparos. The Rama however strongly defends Kaparos, and explains that it is an ancient custom dating back to the Gaonim (others say even before the time of the Geonim).
- If one is not Noheg to do Kaparos then perhaps he shouldn’t start. Those who, however, are accustomed to do Kaparos certainly should not stop.
- While doing the Kaparos there are various tefilos and psukim one should say, these are printed in most siddurim and machzorim.
- On Erev Yom-Kippur one should go to the Mikvah.
- All adult men should dip in the mikva.
i. As this is mostly for reasons of purity there is little reason for boys who have not physically matured yet to go to the Mikva.
ii. There are those that maintain that the purpose for going to the mikva isn’t only for purity reasons, but rather something one should do before doing Teshuva. According to this opinion, it then stands to reason that boys over nine should go to the mikva.
- There is an issur for a son to see his father undressed. This issur is for tznius reasons and not for Kibud Av reasons – thus a father cannot be mochel and allow his son to see him undressed.
- The aforementioned issur extends to brothers-in-law, fathers-in- law, and grandfathers.
- Since children who aren’t of age to understand the Teshuva process have no reason to go to the Mikvah, and since there also an additional prohibition for them to see their fathers undressed, young boys should not be brought to the mikva.
iii. When getting undressed before immersing in the mikve one should remove their underpants last unless they are wearing an undershirt (the bottom layer shirt) that covers their mila (see Meseches Derech Eretz Rabba and Zuta)
- There are those that maintain that women, and girls who already understand Teshuva (9+), should go to the mikva as well.
i. In most Ashkenazi communities this is not commonly done, and one should therefore not start to do so on one’s own.
ii. In some Chasidishe communities there are many that are Noheg that married women go to the Mikva.
- The old minhag in Yerushalayim is for women and girls over nine to go to the mikva Erev Yom-Kippur.
iii. Amongst the Sephardim there are those that are noheg that women and girls (9+) go to the mikva.
- The prevalent Minhag is to go after Chatzos, but before the Seuda Hamafsekes.
i. One shouldn’t go before Chatzos, unless there is no other option.
ii. It is ok to go after the Seuda Hamafsekes.
- Aveilim even during Shiva go to the Mikva Erev Yom-Kippur.
- There is a Mitzvah to eat Erev Yom-Kippur.
- The Mitzvah exists during the entire day.
- One may not fast on Erev-Yom-Kippur.
- One must eat at least the seudas Hamafsekes.
i. There is a largely accepted minhag to eat two seudos Erev Yom-Kippur: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
ii. One should eat meat for the Seudas Hamafsekes.
- There are those that eat Dairy for the morning meal, but many are noheg to eat meat for both.
- If one ate the Seuda Hamafsekes and then wishes to eat or drink more after the Seuda, that person should make a stipulation to that effect before or while he is still eating the Seuda Hamafsekes.
i. If one didn’t make a verbal stipulation, but did intend to eat after the Seuda Hamafsekes, there is no problem and one can continue eating.
ii. If one didn’t stipulate or intend to eat (i.e. didn’t give any thought as to whether or not one wished to eat again) it is advisable not to eat. If, however, there is a significant reason for eating more, one can do so.
iii. If one thought that he was not going to eat more, then even if one didn’t verbally say so, one should refrain from eating. If there is a need to eat, one can do so.
iv. If one actually said that he was not going to eat again then one may not eat again until after the fast.
- Although it is a Mitzva to eat Erev Yom Kippur, we must stop eating some time before the fast begins, as we are obligated to add onto the Kedushas Hayom.
- Mincha Erev Yom Kippur:
- Mincha occurs prior to the Seuda Hamafsekes.
- It is preferable that one daven Mincha in Yom-Tov garb.
- It is brought down in the Shulchan Aruch that one should get tapped lightly (symbolic ‘‘lashes’’) 39 times with a belt after Mincha.
i. Many people do not do put this into practice.
ii. These ‘‘lashes’’ don’t have a din of Makos (halachic ‘lashes’).
iii. While one is receiving these ‘lashes’ one should say viduy.
iv. The person giving the ‘lashes’ should say Vehu Rachum etc. three times.
v. The person giving the ‘lashes’ should be extra careful not to hurt the person receiving the ‘lashes’.
vi. Prior to receiving ‘lashes’ Mechila should be given for the humiliation involved in receiving the ‘lashes’. As these ‘lashes’ should be a far cry from anything that would hurt the one receiving them, there is no need to be mochel one for one’s potentially getting hurt.
- Seuda Hamafsekes is eaten after Mincha, and should be a lavish Yom-Tov style meal.
- One should refrain from eating nuts at this Seuda (particularly almonds)
- We don’t eat foods with garlic, nor do we eat dairy products.
- There are those that have a minhag to eat stuffed cabbage and/or Creplach.
i. If one has these Minhagim it is good to keep to them, but they are not of importance and there is no reason to start.
- All foods eaten during the Seuda should be foods that are easy on the stomach and digestive system.
- We are noheg to light a yartzeit-size candle for all married adult man.
- A yartzeit-size candle should be placed in the bedroom when a husband and wife will be sleeping in the same room.
i. In reality an electric night-light would suffice, but since the minhag is a yartzeit candle it is best not to veer from the minhag.
- If there is danger in using a candle then a night-light may be used.
- We are also noheg that a yartzeit candle should be lit for each deceased parent.
i. The yartzeit candle for a deceased parent shouldn’t be used for Havdala nor should another candle be lit from it.
- We light candles as on Shabbos and we recite the bracha of lehadlik ner shel yom-hakipurim, and Shehechiyanu.
- On years that Yom-Kippur falls out on Shabbos as does this year’s – we say shel Shabbos veyom hakipurim.
- A woman who lights candles and then goes to shul should not make Shehechiyanu together with everyone else as she already did so when lighting.
- We are noheg to cover the table as on Shabbos – with Shabbos table-cloths.
On Yom Kippur it is forbidden to eat and drink, to wash, to anoint, to wear leather shoes, and to be intimate. In this section we will discuss the particulars of the aforementioned.
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