CUSTOMS OF EREV YOM KIPPUR

The day before Yom Kippur is considered to be a quasi-festival day.

  • Traditionally, "all who eat on the ninth are      considered to have fasted on the ninth AND the tenth." It is thus a      mitzvah to eat and drink Erev Yom Kippur. This both gives us strength for      the fast and substitutes for the usual Yom Tov meals, which cannot be      eaten on Yom Kippur because of the fast.
  • It is customary to give increased charity on Erev Yom Kippur as charity helps to repeal any evil      decrees. (See the Kaparot section below).
  • Sins committed against another person cannot be atoned      for until one has first sought forgiveness from the person he/she has      wronged. Even the great day of Yom Kippur or death cannot atone for sins      against fellow man.

    Thus - it is customary to go visit (or at least call) friends, family,      associates and any person whom one may have somehow wronged or spoken ill      of in the past year and ask forgiveness.

    For example, any stolen objects must be returned to their rightful owners.      Any person you have spoken Loshen Hara, evil gossip, about, should be      asked for their forgiveness.

  • It is a mitzvah to immerse oneself in a mikvah (ritual      bath) on Erev Yom Kippur. This symbolizes a person’s rebirth associated      with the doing of Teshuvah, return.      Men have this custom universally, and women have different customs      concerning mikvah Erev Yom Kippur.
  • Kaparot - An ancient      and mystical custom designed to imbue people with a feeling that their      very lives are at stake as the holy Yom Kippur approaches.

    The kaparot ceremony symbolizes our sins crying out for atonement, and as      a reminder that our good deeds, charity and repentance can save us from      the penalty our many sins deserve.

    In its original form, a chicken (a white rooster for a male, hen      for a female) was taken      and waved over one’s head while reciting prescribed verses which can be      found in the Yom Kippur machzor (special prayer book). It was customary to      then redeem the kaparot for money, which was given to charity.

    Today though, most communities prefer to place the chosen sum of money in      a white cloth napkin and give it to charity following the ceremony.

  • Viduy,      confession, is recited at mincha, the afternoon service, during the silent      Amidah. In case a person should choke and die during his pre-Yom Kippur      meal, he will have least said one viduy.
  • It is customary to wear white on Yom Kippur. This is      symbolic of the angels and of spiritual purity. Many married men wear a      kitel, which is also worn upon burial (and by many men at their wedding)      as a reminder of the day of death and repentance.
  • Though not usually worn at night - the talit (prayer      shawl) is worn for Kol Nidre, is kept on for the entire evening service,      and is left unfolded at the synagogue to be adorned again the next      morning.