Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is upon us once again, beginning in a few hours time here in Israel, when we will be entering a 25-hour fast with day-long prayer services, composed of beautiful, spiritual and emotional prayers and songs, being held in shuls and community centers throughout the Jewish world. It is a day when we must ask forgiveness from our fellow man if we have wronged them, forgive those who have wronged us if they ask to be forgiven, and pray that Hashem will seal us in the Book of Life.
In Israel, traffic comes to a complete halt throughout the country, even in the most secular towns, and a serene and holy calmness pervades throughout the land. Even the international airport and public transport close down for the day, starting from a few hours before the fast until an hour or so after the fast ends.
You can read more about Yom Kippur at Aish.com who have a great Yom Kippur info-graphic.
This year is the 40th anniversary of the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, when Israel was taken by surprise on its holiest day by an invasion on two fronts, by Egypt and Syria. I will (bli neder) be posting separately about this after the Fast.The video that I posted last Yom Kippur is of special relevance this year because of the 40th anniversary, so I will repost it here. You can read the translation and explanations at last year’s Yom Kippur post.
The IDF Spokesman published a post explaining how IDF soldiers observe Yom Kippur, how they manage to remain on active duty while fasting, and what special allowances are made for them by the Rabbinate in order to make sure that their operations are not hampered while still keeping to the spirit of the day:
Day-to-day work in the IDF comes to a halt on all holidays like Yom Kippur, but essential security work must be active 24/7 as a result of constant threats posed by Israel’s enemies. In 1973, Syria and Egypt abused the holiness of the day by attacking Israel while most of soldiers were fasting at home or in the Synagogue.
For IDF soldiers who are on duty, some of the laws of Yom Kippur are not possible or even dangerous to observe fully. The IDF Rabbinate Corps provides for the religious needs of all soldiers of all religions. The Rabbinate provides Jewish soldiers with guidance for how to observe the holiday in the best way possible, maintaining the delicate balance between a soldier’s obligations to national defense with his or her religious needs.
As the proud mother-in-law of an IDF Rabbi I can attest to the hard work and investment of time, effort and emotion involved in preparing IDF bases and soldiers for the holidays. May Hashem look after all our soldiers who guard our borders and fight our enemies, and bring them home safely.
In the spirit of the day, I would like to ask forgiveness from anyone whom I might have offended or hurt.
To those who are fasting I wish an easy and meaningful fast.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish my family, friends and readers Gmar Hatima Tova – May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life.
גמר חתימה טובה