Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is considered the holiest and most solemn among the days in the Jewish calendar. For the reason that the day is devoted to communal repentance and abstention. Jewish people also observe certain traditions and practices. One of which is fasting. But, what is the significance of fasting during this time of the year for the Jews?
Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement
According to Leviticus 16:29, Moses instructed the Israelites to abstain from certain human wants and thus “afflict one’s soul.” This helps the person to connect more with the Divine.
So, how does one afflict his soul? Jews have a list of the possible things they can do to express their devotion. Refraining from washing and sexual relations is one thing. They also don’t wear any perfume or leather (a sign of luxury in earlier days). But, the most popular prohibition is fasting from food or drinks.
However, fasting and praying is not enough. For God views a changed heart and life as more pleasing than mere fasting. Isaiah 58:6-7 says, “No, this is the fast I desire: To unlock fetters of wickedness and untie the cords of the yoke to let the oppressed go free; To break off every yoke. It is to share your bread with the hungry and to take the wretched poor into your home; When you see the naked, to clothe him, and not ignore your own kin.”
So, Jews prepare themselves before the day with reconciliation and asking forgiveness. They go to their friends and family to make amends. Yom Kippur is a day of reconciliation with friends, family, yourself, and God.
For the year 2021, Yom Kippur will begin at sunset on Wednesday, September 15. And then ends at sundown on Thursday, September 16.
Reference: My Jewish Learning