The day is dedicated entirely to prayer.
1. The afternoon service on the eve of Yom Kippur sets the tone for the prayers of Yom Kippur, in that the confession is said at the end of the (silent) amidah.
2. There are five services on Yom Kippur itself:
3. The following are the main prayers special to Yom Kippur.
A private prayer before Kol Nidrei, includes examination of one's conscience, Vidui and expression of remorse. The prayer concludes with a request to G-d to,
'create in me a pure mind and renew in me an eager spirit'.
This moving prayer, read by the leader is based on the
'Anyone who wants his vows throughout the year not to be binding, should stand up on Rosh Hashanah and say, "Any vow that I make in the future shall be invalid".'
(The expression Rosh Hashanah is interpreted to mean Yom Kippur, as in Ezekiel 40:1)
Yom Kippur is a day of forgiveness and repentance, when a person must purify oneself from sins (To fear sin means: so that one fears sin itself more than one fears the punishment arising from it.) One cannot do this with vows on one's conscience, or possible vows, so one must first remove any problems that vows might cause - hence the relevance of
Rabbi Mendel of Vitebsk
The Service resembles that of a regular festival, but with the following major additions:
(1) The Sephardim begin with the two verses '
', as on weekdays, which are otherwise omitted on Shabbat and festivals.
(2) After the first verse of the
, the second verse, '
...' is chanted aloud. Normally this is recited quietly, because this is the prayer of angels, into whose domain we do not wish to intrude, but on Yom Kippur we are all compared to angels.
(3) Before the
we recite the verse,
'For on this day…' (Leviticus 16:30)
includes seven blessings, especially
is recited at the end.
(5) After the
are recited, often sung to traditional tunes, followed by a repetition of the Vidui; Avinu Malkenu (except on Shabbat) etc.
(6) In different congregations, various additional prayers are said after the end of the service.
is similar to that of Rosh Hashanah.
The theme of the
in the reader's repetition of the
is G-d's rule over the entire world.
is followed by
(except on Shabbat).
are taken out of the
The main Torah reading is
, describing the special service performed in the Sanctuary by the High Priest on Yom Kippur. Six people are called to the reading (seven, as usual, if it is on Shabbat).
, as usual on a Festival, describes the additional sacrifices (
57:14 - 58:14) exhorts the people to repentance, followed by a change of behavior and good deeds.
Yizkor (Memorial Prayers)
These are said four times a year - on Yom Kippur, Shemini Atzeret, the last day of Pesach and the second day (in Israel, the first and only day) of Shavuot. In addition to prayers for departed relatives, "El Maleh Rahamim' is said for Jewish martyrs throughout the ages, for those who died in the Holocaust in particular, for soldiers in the Jewish underground and, later, in the Israeli army who died fighting to establish and defend the Jewish state.
There are seven blessings in the
as on Rosh Hashanah. [In the Yovel (jubilee year, temporarily suspended), when the Shofar is blown, nine blessings are said as on Rosh Hashanah.]
The focus ofthe repetition of the
is a full description of the
, the special service conducted by the High Priest in the Temple. This section is particularly important.
Other outstanding 'additions' in the repetition include
(as on Rosh Hashanah), Aleinu (as on Rosh Hashanah) and
, the story of the Ten Martyrs.
This begins with a Torah reading (
18), the section following on from the morning reading, which deals with some of the worst temptations a person is liable to face and to which one must not succumb. Three people are called to the Torah, the third then going on to read the
, which consists of the entire Book of Jonah. The story of Jonah carries the message that repentance is effective in avoiding punishment.
is similar to that of
; it is followed by
(except on Shabbat), although some congregations do not say
This fifth service is unique to Yom Kippur. At this time of day the gates are about to close and be locked, and we pray to G-d to,
Open the gates of Heaven to us at the time when gates are normally locked, because the day is closing
(i.e. give us a last chance).
Wherever 'inscribing' is referred to in earlier prayers (i.e. inscribing the decree sentence in the book of judgement), it is replaced with a reference to 'sealing' (i.e. confirming).
Two special prayers are included (
Atah noten yad
In the repetition,
After the Amidah,
is always said (even on Shabbat).
As the day closes, the following are recited aloud: