Halacha L’Maaseh: Yom Kippur

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03 Sep 2015
Yom Kippur

Asking Forgiveness

Nullifying Vows (Hatarat Nedarim)

Hatarat nedarim (nullification of vows) should be done before Rosh Hashana (but it may be done any time of the year) in front of three adult male shomer-Shabbat Jews. You may make a condition that you never want to make a vow of any type, but this might not be effective or valid.  The formula may be said in English or any other spoken language.


Kaparot with a chicken or money should be done before Yom Kippur, but you may do it before then or any other time. This is a universal Jewish custom.

Meaning of pre-Yom Kippur Meal (Seudah HaMafseket)

We eat a festive meal for the final meal before Yom Kippur to celebrate that we will be forgiven for our previous sins on Yom Kippur.

Mezuman/Minyan at pre-Yom Kippur Meal (Seudah HaMafseket)

A mezuman or minyan is permitted at the pre-Yom Kippur meal (seudah hamafseket).

Reason: It is a festive meal.

Challah Dipped in Honey for pre-Yom Kippur Meal (Seudah HaMafseket)

Eating challah dipped in honey is a non-binding custom for the pre-Yom Kippur festive meal (seudah hamafseket).

Pre-Yom Kippur Meal: Shir HaMa’alot

Shir ha’ma’alot should be said before birkat hamazon at the final meal (seudah hamafseket) before Yom Kippur (and also at a meal after Yom Kippur ends).

Wishing Easy Fast

You may wish “an easy fast” for Yom Kippur since, although Yom Kippur is supposed to be a day of afflicting our souls, there are degrees of affliction!

Pre-Yom Kippur: Yahrzeit Candle

On Yom Kippur, it is a universal custom to light one candle if one or both parents are deceased. Every married couple also lights one candle for themselves and their children (if any).

Starting Fast

Yom Kippur fasting starts with candle lighting for women and at least 7 minutes before sunset for men.

Delaying Start Past Candle Lighting

Lighting the candles starts the holiday of Yom Kippur.  If you want to start the holiday later, you must:

Note: Women then say shehecheyanu at least 7 minutes before sunset! (One may not make a condition for shehecheyanu!)

Note: If a woman lit candles for Yom Kippur more than 7 minutes before sunset (as is normally done at 18 or even 40 minutes before sunset), but made a condition (tenai) that she would still eat or do melacha until somewhat later, she must still stop eating and doing melacha by no later than 7 minutes before sunset.

Leather Shoes

You may not wear leather shoes on Yom Kippur.

Kittel for Men

All married men should wear a kittel on Yom Kippur during all prayer services (this is a universal custom). Some men do not wear a kittel during the first year of marriage.

No Kiddush If You Must Eat

If you must eat on Yom Kippur (for health reasons), do not make kiddush and do not use two loaves of bread, even if Yom Kippur coincides with Shabbat.

Birkat HaMazon If You Must Eat Bread

If you must eat a meal including at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) of bread on Yom Kippur, say birkat ha’mazon afterward. Add ya’aleh v’yavo (and if Yom Kippur coincides with Shabbat, also add retzei).

Washing To Remove Tum’a

On Yom Kippur (as on Tish’a b’Av), if you must wash your hands to remove:

Torah Reading: Forbidden Relationships

On Yom Kippur, at mincha, we read in the Torah about forbidden relationships to remind ourselves that even on the holiest day of the year, we may be subject to temptations and sins.

Bowing for Musaf Alenu

For how to bow at Yom Kippur Musaf Alenu, see Waist-Bowing and Knee-Bowing.

Ending: Havdala

After Yom Kippur, say the full havdala.

Note: You must light a candle from a flame that was burning since before Yom Kippur began. If you do not have one, skip the blessing on the flame.
If Shabbat coincides with Yom Kippur, you should light the candle from a flame that was burning from before Shabbat began. If you do not have one, you may light a new flame after Shabbat and Yom Kippur are over. Don’t say the blessing on spices.

Post-Yom Kippur Meal: Shir HaMa’alot

Shir ha’ma’alot should be said after eating a meal that you began after Yom Kippur ended.

Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L’Maaseh appears courtesy of www.practicalhalacha.com Visit their web site for more information.
This material is provided for informational purposes only – not a substitute for the consultation of a competent rabbi.