G’mar Chatimah Tovah is a common greeting for Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and essentially means, “May you be sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.” The High Holy Day of Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the biblical year, in which we are commanded to “afflict our souls” to atone for our sins. (See Lev. 23:26–32.) It is the day in which we are closest to God; a time of spiritual cleansing; a solemn day of fasting and prayer, repentance and forgiveness. It is also a day in which we feel an undertone of joy in knowing that God will forgive us and grant us a year of life, goodness, health, and happiness. We are confident in His unconditional love for us, for He is the King who pardons and forgives our sins.
Yom Kippur is a complete fast in which we do not eat or drink. It is a custom to wear all white on this day, as it is a sign of purity and holiness. Wearing white also reminds us of the promise in Isaiah 1:18 that our sins will be made as white as snow.
The eve of Yom Kippur commences with the Kol Nidre (Annulment of Vows) service. Kol Nidre means “all vows,” and is the name of the prayer spoken in which we ask God to annul all vows that we made in the previous year, and all vows that we might make in the coming year. The following day is spent in continued prayer and fasting, culminating in the final service, called Ne’ilah (Closing of the Gates) which is the fifth and final prayer of the day. Ne’ilah is a Hebrew word which means “closing” or “locking.” It symbolically refers to the closing of the Gates of Heaven, as it is the time in which we recite the final prayers of repentance. Yom Kippur concludes with a great blast of the shofar (ram’s horn).
On Rosh Hashanah, our future for the coming year is determined. On Yom Kippur, our future for the coming year is sealed.
Yom Kippur is a one-day observance which begins the evening of October 8th this year and ends the evening of the 9th. (Tishrei 10 on the Hebrew calendar)
Have an easy and meaningful fast.
27Howbeit on the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; there shall be a holy convocation unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls…
(JPS 1917, Lev. 23:27)
If you would like to join Ralph Messer & STBM for Yom Kippur this year, find out more by clicking here.
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