Yom Kippur is the Jewish religious festival that celebrates the Day of Atonement. In the Torah it is called Yom haKippurim or the Day of scapegoats. It is one of the so-called Yamim Noraim, literally days of awe. The Yamim Noraim range from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, which are respectively the first two days and the last day of the ten days of Repentance.
In the Jewish calendar Yom Kippur begins at dusk of the tenth day of the Jewish month of Tishri falling in September and October of the Gregorian calendar, and continues until the early stars of the next night. It can then last for 25-26 hours.
Yom Kippur is the Jewish day of repentance and is considered the most sacred and solemn day of the Jewish year. The central theme is atonement of sins and reconciliation. It is forbidden to eat, drink, wash, wear makeup, wear leather shoes and have sex. Fasting with total abstinence from food and drink begins a few moments before sundown called tosefet Yom Kippur in addition to Yom Kippur, the addition of a small part of the day before the fasting is prescribed by the Halakha, and ends after next sunset, before the appearance of the first stars.
The service begins with a prayer of Kol Nidre which must be recited before sunset. Kol Nidre meaning all the promises is the cancellation of all vows during the year. Yom Kippur completes the penitential period of ten days started with the New Year of Rosh Hashanah. Although the prayers which ask for forgiveness are recommended during the entire year, become particularly felt on this day.
The morning prayer is preceded by litanies and some requests for forgiveness calls selihot and in the Yom Kippur they are added in abundance in the liturgy. Contrary to popular belief, Yom Kippur is not a sad day. Many Jews have the custom to wear only white clothes, to symbolize the purity of their souls.
For evening prayers people wear a Tallit, a rectangular prayer shawl and this is the only evening service of the year in which this happens. Ne'ilah is a special service held only on Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur ends with the sounding of the shofar, which concludes the celebration. It is always observed a day of vacation, both inside and outside the borders of the land of Israel.
The service in the synagogue begins the Christmas Eve with the Kol Nidre. Devotions during the day are continuous from morning to night. Much importance is given to the liturgical song which tells the ceremonial temple.
The traditional melodies with their plaintive tones the Ashkenazi tradition give expression both individual anguish in the face of uncertainty of the fate and the lament of a people for the lost glories. On the day of atonement the observant Jew forget the mundane and its needs and, excluding the hatred, antipathy and all ignoble thoughts, she tries to deal only with spiritual things. The Jewish prayer books point out that, if the acts of public contrition are required, the most effective corrective is one established by the biblical prophets, who teach that the true fast that God rejoices is the spirit of devotion, kindness and penance.
The austere character imprinted at the ceremony by the time of its inception has been preserved until today. Even if other things have become obsolete, his grip on the conscience of every jew is so strong that few, unless they have not severed all ties with Judaism, avoid observing the Day of Atonement refraining from daily work and by attending services.
Rosh Hashanah is the New Year, one of three planned in the Jewish calendar. The Mishnah indicates the manner to calculate the progression of years and also the calculation of sabbatical and jubilee. In the Torah it is referred as the day the sound of the Shofar. The rabbinic literature and the liturgy describe Rosh Hashanah as the Judgement Day or Yom ha-Din and the Day of Remembrance or Yom ha-zikaron.
Midrashim tells of God who sits on the throne in front of books, who collects the history of humanity and not only of the Jewish people. Every single person is examined to decide whether or not they deserve forgiveness. The decision, however, will be ratified only on the occasion of Yom Kippur. This is why the 10 days that separate these two holidays are called the 10 day penitential.
In these 10 days, it is the duty of every jew to perform an analysis of their year and identify all the transgressions committed against the Jewish precepts. Even more important, then, is the analysis of the wrongs that have been made towards their acquaintances. Once recognized to have acted improperly, they must ask forgiveness from the victim. The latter has a duty to offer their forgiveness. Only in special cases has the right to deny it. It is with the soul of the penitent who faces Yom Kippur.
The festival lasts for two days in Israel, but it's a recent tradition. In fact there are testimonies of how Jerusalem celebrated it in the thirteenth century. The scriptures bear the precept observance of one day. This is why some streams of Judaism, including the Karaites, only celebrate the first. The Orthodox and one Conservative Judaism, however, celebrate on both days.
Rosh Hashanah falls 162 days after the first day of Pesach. In the Gregorian calendar it cannot fall before September 5th. Curiously, because of the difference between the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar, from 2089 to the latter, Rosh Hashanah cannot fall before September 6th.
It cannot fall later than 5 October. Rosh Hashanah can never fall on a Thursday, Friday or Sunday. Based on the traditional date of the foundation of the world, it falls on the first day of Tishri which according to the Gregorian calendar is in September or in early October. One of the characteristics of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar. In some communities it is played every morning on the month of Elul, the last before the new year. The significance of this custom is to awaken the Jewish people from the slumber and remind them that the day is approaching when they will be judged with Yom Kippur.
In earlier days were recited the Selichot or penitential prayers. Depending on the tradition of the various currents, the recitation of Selichot begins at different times, from 30 to 10 days prior to Rosh Hashanah festivities. These poems are so important that on the day of the festivities, some of these, calls piyyutim are inserted within the normal liturgy. The afternoon before the start of the holiday is used to make the tashlikh, a throwing objects at a body of water or even a fountain is fine to get rid of all traces of sin.
The first evening dinner of Rosh Hashanah is called the Seder of Rosh Hashanah. During this dinner, together with the recitation of small prayers, using something sweet like the typical apple dipped in honey and foods that give the idea of multiplicity, such as pomegranate, is wished a sweet and prosperous year.
Among the different dishes that are served during this dinner, there is a constant presence of some part of an animal. It is usually brought to the table a form of bread (challa), symbolizing the circularity of the year. In the second meal of the evening, with the Seder as the first, it is served more variety of fruit possible, so as to be included in the shehecheyanu blessing, the blessing that is recited the first time you taste something in the year.
In ancient times, the Jewish year began in the autumn following the harvest. Following this order, we have the major Jewish holidays as the feast of unleavened bread; the feast of harvest (first fruits of grain), seven weeks later, and the harvest festival or of storage at the end of the season, which also marks the end of the Jewish calendar. It is likely that the latter festival was celebrated in ancient times in special ways.
The first reference to the festival is probably of Ezekiel. In Leviticus it is said that the jubilee, which begins on the same day of Rosh Hashanah, was greeted with the sound of trumpets. According to the book of Ezekiel, specific sacrifices were offered in both the first day of the first month (Nisan), and the first day of the seventh month (Tishri).
The first day of the seventh month is referred to as the day of the sound of trumpets. No work was to be performed, and special sacrifices were to be offered. It is still not expressly called New Year, but it was already noted as such by the Jews of the time. This date marks the creation of Adam.
Tashlikh is a practice of ancient Judaism, usually performed in the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, but can be observed up to Hoshanah Rabbah. The sins of the previous year are symbolically thrown away by reciting a section from Micah alluding to the symbolic liberation from sins by throwing them into great natural body of water like a river, lake, sea or ocean, then throwing a rock or stone in the water itself.
The name Tashlikh and the practice itself is derived from step of Bible Micah. The majority of Jewish sources trace the tradition of Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Levi Moelin well in his work Sefer Maharil. Flavius Josephus refers to the decree of Halicarnassus that allows Jews to practice their rites according to Jewish law and maintain their places of worship near the sea, according to the customs of their fathers.
The Zohar, one of the most important books of Jewish mysticism, states that whatever falls into the deep like the water is lost forever and serves as the scapegoat for the ablution of sins. Some argue that this passage refers to tashlikh. The first direct reference to tashlikh is located at Rabbi Jacob Moelin in Sefer Maharil, where explains the minhag (custom) as a commemoration of the Binding of Isaac.
A midrash tells on the rabbinical ligation in which Satan, throw himself across the path of Abraham in the form of a deep river that he overcame, who tried to prevent the sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah and in fact, Abraham and Isaac, while being drowned in a river begged God to assist them, when the river disappeared.
Moelin however forbids the practice of throwing pieces of bread into the river, especially in the daytime Shabbat. This shows as well that in its time tashlikh had a duly observed circulation, even when the first day of Rosh Hashanah happened in Shabbat, although later the ceremony was postponed to the second day.