Shabbat Shuvah (The Sabbath of Return) Prior to Yom Kippur
The Shabbat Which immediately precedes Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah (The Shabbat of Return). It gets its name from the special Haftarah reading in Hosea which begins with the words Shuvah Yisrael "Return O Israel,".It is also referred to as Shabbat Teshuvah because it falls during the Ten days of Repentance.
The prayer service on this Shabbat is the same as on an ordinary Shabbat with the exception of the additions that are made to the Amidah throughout the Ten Days of Repentance. However, Avinu Malkenu is not recited.
It is customary in almost all Jewish communities for the rabbi of the city or congregation to expound on teshuvah, and to emphasize the severity of transgression so that the people turn their hearts toward repentance. The drash itself is believed to be a part of the purification from sin for the people.
Shabbat Shuvah is a particularly auspicious time from seeking forgiveness for the times in which one has not properly guarded the Sabbath. The Shabbat was given to Israel as a time for Torah study and prayer. We should refrain from mundane activities, speech and even thoughts on the Holy Sabbath. Shabbat Shuvah is a wonderful opportunity to make a tikkun (repair) in our Sabbath observance.
Erev Yom Kippur ~ Preparation of the Holiest Day of the Year
Every Jew should immerse in a mikvah on the day before Yom Kippur in respect for the sanctity of the day and so as to repent and be purified of sin. This practice dates back to the time of Moshe.
The fast of Yom Kippur is a complete fast meaning that there is neither food nor drink. One should drink plenty of water in the days preceding the holiday. All adults (age 13 and up) are required to fast. Exceptions include those who are sick (G-d forbid), those who need to eat something for medical reasons, women who are nursing or pregnant. Children should be trained to fast especially those who are 7-12. Parents might cause them to fast a meal or a snack.
The Meal Before the Fast
It is considered a great mitzvah to enjoy a hearty and festive meal prior to the beginning of the fast of Yom Kippur. To do so is considered equivalent to having fasted the entire day. The reason for this is that by eating we show our joy that the time for our atonement has arrived. The joyful anticipation also shows that we are concerned with our sins. In addition, on other Festivals we partake of fixed meals as a means of expressing our happiness in having the opportunity to fulfill mitzvot. This joy is in itself a source of merit. Since we cannot partake of a festival meal on Yom Kippur, we do so on the day before Yom Kippur instead. Perhaps on a more practical level, the festive meal on Erev Yom Kippur provides us with the physical strength we will need on Yom Kippur to focus our minds on prayer, supplication, and reflection that will lead us to teshuvah.
Candle Lighting and Blessing Children
We light the Yom Tov lights for Yom Kippur. Before entering the synagogue , it is customary for fathers to bless their children. Although there is no required formula for this blessing, it is customary for fathers to say: May G-d make you life Ephraim and Menashe [for a son]; or, May G-d make you like Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, and Leah [for a daughter].
Some also add the following text:
May it be the will of our Father in Heaven to place into your heart love and fear of Him. May the fear of G-d be upon you always so that you never sin. May your yearnings be for Torah and mitzvot. May your eyes see straight ahead, may your mouth speak wisdom, and may your heart feel awe. May your hands engage in mitzvot, your feet run to fulfill the will of your Father in Heaven. May He grant you sons and daughters who are righteous, who will be engaged in Torah and mitzvot throughout their lives. May your livelihood be blessed and may your sustenance be earned in a permitted manner, with ease and bounty from His generous hand, rather than from the gifts of flesh and blood; sustenance that will leave you free for the service of G-d. May you be inscribed and sealed for a good and long life among all the righteous of Israel, b'shem Yeshua Amein!
Forbidden Activities on Yom Kippur
1) No food or drink from the candle lighting of Yom Kippur until the Havdalah the next night.
2) No marital relations. One should not touch their wife at all on Yom Kippur. There will be only Men and Women's seating on Yom Kippur.
3) We do not anoint ourselves with lotions, perfumes, oils, deodorants or cosmetics including make-up for ladies.
4) We do not wear leather shoes.
5) We do not wear gold jewelry
6) It is a complete Shabbat. No work, no cooking, cleaning, etc.
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. It is the Holiest day of the entire year. In Temple times, this was the one and only day in which the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies (the Throne Room of HaShem) in the Beit HaMikdash. Therefore, it was the day that the holiest man of Israel, went to the holiest place in Israel at the holiest time on the Jewish calendar.
Yom Kippur is also the day that Moshe presented the new Tablets (new or renewed covenant) to Israel. After the tragedy of the golden calf, Moshe had broken the Tablets of the Law. HaShem eventually forgave Israel and after a period of 40 days on the mountain, Moshe brought down the restored / renewed covenant on what would become known as Yom Kippur. Therefore, Yom Kippur is a celebration of new covenant.
Yom Kippur is a day for introspection, repentance, prayer and supplication. It is a day of grace and mercy; a day that HaShem grants us the privilege of starting anew. It is the only day on the calendar in which the satan (cursed be he) has no power. We are like the angels and we elevate into that role on Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur is also the day that our "decree" is sealed by the heavenly court. What will our year ahead look like? Will it be a year of health and prosperity? This is decided on Rosh HaShanah and sealed on Yom Kippur. This thought heightens the importance of the day as prayer and repentance has the power to tear up any evil decrees! This is why Yom Kippur is so special and so critical in our lives.
Most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue, in prayer. In our synagogue, services begin early in the morning (10:30 AM) and continue until about 1:00 PM. People then usually go home for an afternoon nap and return around 3 or 4:00 PM for the afternoon and evening services, which continue until nightfall. The services end at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the shofar.
For more on Yom Kippur see this video
Yom Kippur Third Meal Study:
Yom Kippur will occur on the following days of the secular calendar:
- Jewish Year 5784: sunset September 24, 2023 to nightfall on September 25, 2023
- Jewish Year 5785: sunset October 11, 2024 to nightfall on October 2, 2024
- Jewish Year 5786: sunset October 1, 2025 to nightfall on October 2, 2025
- Jewish Year 5787: sunset September 20, 2026 to nightfall on September 21, 2026
- Jewish Year 5788: sunset October 10, 2027 to nightfall on October 11, 2027