The incremental degrees of observance on Yom Kippur.

This past week marked the commencement of the 5777th year on the Jewishi calendar as celebrated by Rosh Hashanah,ii one week after which is Yom Kipper – The Holiest of Holy Daysiii – The Day of Atonement. If case you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about, here are some of the incremental degrees of observance possible, some of which are mutually exclusive and some of which are complementary (and it should be entirely obvious which are which), and all of which are to be maintained from sunset-to-sunset on the appropriate day :

  • Fasting with no food or drink, nor chewing gum, nor brushing teeth, nor smoking (ie. nothing crosses your lips)
  • Fasting with no food or drinks other than water and coffee
  • Fasting with no food or drinks other than water
  • Fasting with no food or drink but with chewing gum and smoking (or just one or the other)
  • Wearing white or light-coloured clothing
  • No bathing or washing
  • No wearing leather footweariv
  • No wearing goldv
  • No sexual relationsvi
  • No application of lotions, creams, or make-up
  • No work – specifically professional activities
  • No work of any kind including professional activities, driving a car,vii turning on lights, using elevators,viii etc.

That’d be all.

___ ___ ___

  1. And Republican. []
  2. Literally “Head of the Year.” The word “rosh” meaning “head” works the same way in Hebrew as it does in English in that it can also refer to the body part and the political leadership role. []
  3. Ie. the one you’re ~really~ supposed to go to even if you never go any other service.  []
  4. Too luxurious! []
  5. To recall the golden calf. []
  6. Not even head, I mean rosh. []
  7. Traditionally you’d walk to schul but in a larger metropolitan area there’s hardly any guarantee of residing within walking distance. More observant Jews could take an Uber but most will just drive themselves. []
  8. The Shabbat elevators in Israel are a riot if you ever have the chance to try them. []

One thought on “The incremental degrees of observance on Yom Kippur.

  1. […] Jews only outright fast for 24 hours during Yom Kippur and even then to varying degrees.  […]

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