times, origins, rituals… The secrets of the great Jewish festival

YOM KIPPUR. The great Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 4 and 5, 2022. Date, time, origin, meaning or rituals… Here are the secrets of the great Jewish celebration.

[Mis à jour le 5 octobre 2022 à 12h35] Yom Kippur 2022 began on Tuesday, October 4 at sunset and ends this Wednesday, October 5 at sunset. The holiest and most solemn event on the Hebrew calendar, the Jewish holiday of the “Great Forgiveness” is based on specific dates and times (more information on this point here). These dates change every year on our Gregorian calendar. As for the schedules, all you have to do is check with the synagogue attached to your home to know them locally. The celebration takes place exactly ten days after the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah, which corresponds to the 10th day of the month of Tishri (September or October, depending on the year). A date that is not a holiday, but a non-working day.

Yom Kippur commemorates a very special biblical episode from the Old Testament: God forgives the Hebrews for having created and then worshiped a golden calf after their flight from Egypt. Then God would have granted full grace to the prophet Moses after two times forty days of prayers on Mount Sinai to try to atone for this sin on behalf of the Jewish people. The Yom Kippur parenthesis therefore represents for believers a time of expiation for the faults committed during the year, through fasting, introspection and prayer.

Yom Kippur, an austere holiday like Rosh Hashanah

Like Rosh Hashanah, another very important holiday in the Hebrew calendar, Yom Kippur is an austere holiday. Called “the Shabbat of shabbats”, the holy day ends with an XXL family and a festive meal to break the fast. Keep in mind, however, that Yom Kippur observance may vary slightly by community. For Sephardic Jews, it is the “white fast”. They dress like this in white to symbolize their desire for purity and deliverance from sins. In their liturgy, we find quite cheerful music, compared to that of Ashkenazi Jews. For the latter, the attitude is more solemn. The original joy of the day is admitted, but the memory of the martyrs and the deceased occupies an important place.

Here are the secrets of the date, origin and meaning of Yom Kippur.

Each year, Yom Kippur is based on specific dates and times. In 2022, the Jewish celebration of Yom Kippur begins this Tuesday night, October 4, at 7:07 p.m. (Paris time). Yom Kippur and the privations of it must then end the Wednesday, October 5 at 8:08 p.m. accurate (always Paris time). Therefore, the religious celebration takes place partly outside the weekend this year, while Saturday and Sunday are a “more convenient” time for working believers of Judaism. Yom Kippur this year falls about two months before Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish winter “festival of lights.” And about three months after Eid el-Kebir, a highlight of the Muslim calendar this time.

► Check Yom Kippur schedules by city on a specialized site

Fasting dates and times change every year. If Yom Kippur is not celebrated on the same date from one year to another, it is because it depends on the Hebrew calendar, which refers to the Genesis of the Bible. It is made up of 12 or 13 lunar months depending on the year, and seven-day weeks beginning on Sunday and ending on Thursday. shabbatie Saturday. The lunar months are shorter than the Gregorian calendar months (alternatively 29 or 30 days): it is for this reason that the 10th of the month of Tishri is a fluctuating date if we refer to the calendar of use. In 2014, Yom Kippur and Eid el-Kebir, two of the most important holidays in Judaism and Islam, were celebrated at the same time for the first time in 33 years.

Yom Kippur is actually celebrated shortly after Rosh Hashanah (also known as Shana Tova), the holiday that marks a new calendar year on the Hebrew calendar and opens 10 days of penance: the Day of Atonement always occurs 10 days after the first day of Rosh Hashanah (see why here) and starts the night before these +10 days. It is a day off but not a holiday, seen by believers as the holiest celebration of the year.

“The Day of Atonement” is a religious holiday. is commemorated the day that God forgave the Jewish people for the lack of the Golden Calf, narrated in the biblical book of Exodus. According to these writings, when Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the Tablets of the Law, the Hebrews created an idol in the shape of a calf with the melted jewels of women and children. The prophet, upon discovering the worship of idols, which the third commandment forbids, would have broken the Tables of the Law in anger. So Moses twice spent 40 days on the top of the mountain to obtain God’s forgiveness for his people. On the tenth day of the month of Tishri, he granted himself.

Yom Kippur is the tenth day of the ten days of penance for the Jews.. This period from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, “Teshuva”, is dedicated to introspection and repentance. During these ten days, it is recommended to do everything possible to rectify the wrongs committed against others.

There are several ways to wish Yom Kippur. You can say “Gmar H’atima tova” (pronouncing the “H” like the Spanish “j”), or even, and it’s much easier to remember, “Bon Kippur”. If you want to assure a loved one of the Jewish faith of your best wishes after Yom Kippur, after the blowing of the Shofar, an ancient wind instrument blown to break the fast, then you can also say “Hag Samea’h”. This formula, which faithful Jews also exchange with each other, designates a festival called Sukkot, and celebrated a few days later. A Hebrew term, “Sukkot” refers to a pilgrimage festival, the prescription of which appears in the Torah, the holy book for the Jews. It is during Sukkot that what believers consider divine support during the “Exodus of the Children of Israel” is celebrated. Sukkot takes place over seven days, marked by commemorative rites.

Sunset over the Western Wall in Jerusalem. © Maria Dubova_123RF

Yom Kippur means “day of atonement.” During this day of fervor, Jews abstain from work and fast. The deprivation of food and drink begins the day before Yom Kippur, half an hour before sunset (“tossefet Yom Kippur”), and ends after sunset the following day. The fast lasts a total of 25 hours., and it is obligatory for all Jews, for men from the age of 13 and for women from the age of 12. However, fasting is not allowed for people who are susceptible to fasting, such as the sick, people with diabetes, or women who have just given birth in the last three days. More generally, five prohibitions must be observed in order to detach from the material world:

  • food and drink ban
  • prohibition of having marital relations
  • washing ban
  • the prohibition of anointing the body with oils and lotions (symbolizing superficial pleasures)
  • the ban on wearing leather shoes (symbolizing material goods and comfort)

Work is also prohibited, and Jews must go to the synagogue for a long time to pray there and ask God for forgiveness for their faults and those of the community. Believers individually ask for forgiveness from anyone they have hurt and apologize for offenses committed against them. Yom Kippur requires five obligatory prayers throughout the day. The Yom Kippur celebration varies by community. The Sephardim, for example, dress in white to affirm their desire to free themselves from their sins.

The end of the fast is indicated in the synagogues by the sound of the shofar, a wind musical instrument made from a ram’s horn. The believers then gather as a family or within their community to “break the fast.” The dishes prepared to celebrate the end of the festival differ according to tradition: Sephardim usually eat cookies accompanied by lemonade, while Ashkenazim usually prefer a hot drink and cheese or smoked fish. After a light meal, a bowl of chicken or broth is served.

Ashura is a fast observed by many Muslims. They continue like this, recalls the specialized site Saphir News, a prophetic tradition that orders believers to refrain from eating and drinking during the 9th and 10th days of the lunar month of Muharram (the first month of the Muslim calendar). “Ashura” (“ten” in Arabic) is an Islamic holiday that commemorates several prophetic episodes that would have taken place on that day, according to the hadiths to which reference is made, specifies Kamel Meziti, a historian: “the atonement of Adam and Eve, after his ‘fall’ on Earth, (…) the docking of Noah’s ark (Nûh); the salvation of Abraham (Ibrahim) saved from the fire of Nimrod or even that of Jonas (Yûnus) saved from the entrails of the whale …”

Why talk about Ashura on a Yom Kippur page? Because this celebration is a link between Judaism and Islam. According to the Sunna (prophetic tradition), in the year 622, the prophet Mohammed went to meet the Jews of Medina on Yom Kippur, as a reminder of the feast of atonement during which they fasted. Mohammed asks them why they do it and they tell him that they commemorate “the day that God gave victory to Moses and the children of Israel over Pharaoh and his men”. Muhammad replies that he himself is linked to the ancient biblical prophets, and therefore he has “more right” to fast on that day. From there, the Prophet will command Muslim believers to fast on that day, regarding Moses as “closest” to them, thus incorporating Ashura into Islam.

In Islamic tradition, a hadith refers to the recommendation of the Ashura fast: “As for the fast on the day of ‘Ashura’, I hope that Allah accepts it as atonement for the year that has preceded it.” muslim saheeh)

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