Yom haKippurim or Kippur, the Day of Atonement, read Leviticus 23:27, is the end of the ten Yamim haNora’im (the ten Days of Awe), of which Rosh Hashanah is the beginning. Yom Kippur is the most holy day of the Jewish year. It was the only day on which the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies and on which he mentioned the name of G-d fully which otherwise was only pronounced by its four characters (YHVH). For Israel it has the meaning that it will ultimately come to full belief (Zechariah 12:10).
On Yom Kippur we fast, not because we are in mourning, but in order to be able to concentrate better on the Almighty. Whoever is too young, too sick or too weak to fast, is allowed to continue to eat. All physical pleasure is prohibited and this is summed up in five points: no eating, no drinking, no washing or care for your body (except the minimum necessary care), no wearing of leather shoes and no sex. On this day everyone is dressed in white, as a symbol of purity. Also the kipot (yarmulkes or skullcaps) that men wear are white. Instead of leather shoes, linen or plastic shoes are worn. The whole synagogue is in white: the coverings of the bimah and of the place from where the derashah (preaching) is being held; also the parochet, the veil before the Aron haKodesh, the closet in which the Torah scrolls are being kept. And the coverings of the scrolls are white as well.
On Erev Yom haKippurim (the eve of -) Kol Nidre is sung. This is a text in which all personal vows towards the Eternal One are being annulled. The idea behind this is that no one is able to fully fulfill his or her obligations towards the Most High. And everyone now and then uses inconsiderate speech or makes an inconsiderate vow. Every inconsiderate vow or inconsiderate speech is being annulled. I can add to this that every bond standing between us and G-d is unlocked, like a prison, and we are given the freedom to move again. Is it a custom to confess our sins during the service, as Aharon did (Leviticus 16:21) and as people individually did (Numbers 5:7), just like David opened himself towards the Eternal One (Psalm 32:5).
This is the text of Kol Nidre, originally in Aramaic (the language in Israel in the time of Yeshua), but in this article in English, so that everyone can understand. It is the chazan (cantor) who makes this proclamation: “All vows, obligations, oaths, and anathemas, whether called ‘konam,’ ‘konas,’ or by any other name, which we may vow, or swear, or pledge, or whereby we may be bound, from this Day of Atonement until the next (whose happy coming we await), we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, and void, and made of no effect; they shall not bind us nor have power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligatory; nor the oaths be oaths.”
Leader and congregation then respond together: “And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel, and the stranger that sojourns among them, seeing all the people were in ignorance.”
Commemoration of the dead
In many synagogues it is a custom to commemorate the dead after the reading from Isaiah 58 regarding the right meaning and way to fast. We will not only commemorate our dead of World War II, but also those who died during the foundation of the State of Israel and in the wars thereafter, and those who died during terrorist attacks. Also personal loss of loved ones are being commemorated during the service. The service on this holy day is closed with a blow on the shofar, just one long tone.
Different kinds of sins
It is interesting that the Eternal One a number of times granted Israel forgiveness of her sins, because a man requested it. See for instance Numbers 14:20 where Moshe asks forgiveness and Amos 7, where Amos does the same. This points to the fact that G-d wants a man to stand in the gap in order to grant forgiveness to us, human beings, and to work out atonement. Finally Yeshua, in His identity as human being, stood in the gap to work out the ultimate atonement between G-d and man. He died and rose from the dead for all mankind, that did not know Him, nor acknowledged the Word of G-d; this sin is called pesha, rebellion. He became the ultimate sacrifice also for those who sin in character, which sin is called avon. And His sacrifice also works out atonement for those sins we do not commit on purpose. This sin is called chet.
Strange phenomena regarding the Temple
In the times of the Bible on Yom Kippur a scarlet thread was bound to the door of the Temple in Jerusalem. This thread of wool was wound around the horns of a goat that was sent into the wilderness; symbolically this animal was carrying the sins of Israel. As soon as the goat reached the wilderness, according to tradition, the thread became white. Think of Isaiah 1:18, where it says, “Even if your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow; even if they are red as crimson, they will be like wool.” At a certain moment in history, something went wrong with the thread. In the Mishnah, tractate Yoma, it says that 40 years before the destruction of the Temple, which is 30 years after the birth of Yeshua, around the time of His sacrificial death, the scarlet thread no longer turned white. And more special things happened around that time. The doors of the Temple, for instance, suddenly opened out of themselves, even though they were locked. There was no longer a need for the thread to become white, for the sins of Israel were already forgiven. Yeshua had died as an atonement for the sins of mankind. The thread no longer became white and after the destruction of the Temple, the Jewish people no longer had a means through which they could reconcile with G-d. No longer blood sacrifices could be brought in the Temple.
All of Israel saved
For Israel Yom haKippurim means, like I have mentioned above, that ultimately all Israel will come to faith and trust in G-d (Zechariah 12:10; see also Romans 11:26). At that moment the fullness of the Gentiles will be reached (Romans 11:25). And the Last Judgment (John12:47) will take place by Yeshua. Then the reconciliation between G-d and all things will be fulfilled (Colossians 1:20; Revelation 21:4), so that even “Cow and bear will feed together, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. An infant will play on a cobra’s hole, a toddler put his hand in a viper’s nest” (Isaiah 11:7-8).