Repent While Alive

From: Mattis Dear Rabbi, Nobody’s perfect, but as people get older they get better. Why repent when we’re young and we’re still likely to do wrong? Wouldn’t it be better to wait till we’re older and naturally stop transgressing? Dear Mattis, This reasoning may seem sound, but it’s totally wrong. Firstly, nobody knows when they’ll[…]

Yom Kippur Bow

From: Allen Dear Rabbi, Why do we bow down on the floor during the Yom Kippur prayers, (I think we do it several times), which is something we never do during the rest of the year? Is there nothing idolatrous about this? Dear Allen, You are referring to a specific part of the chazan’s repetition[…]

Yom Kippur Blast

From: Leon Dear Rabbi, The shofar is blown on Rosh Hashana in order to recall our merits before G‑d on the Day of Judgment. In fact, I think it’s blown something like 100 times. But why is the shofar blown on Yom Kippur? Or more accurately, why is it blown after the “Neila” service, once[…]

Reward and Punishment

From: Mordechai Dear Rabbi, The whole period of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and even Succot through Hoshana Raba, is a period of judgment. The righteous are judged for life, the wicked for death, and the rest are in balance depending on how they, or G‑d, decides to tip the scales. This judgment is for life[…]

In the White

From: Norman Dear Rabbi, I have noticed in previous years at synagogue on Yom Kippur that many people wear white clothes, or a type of white robe, and sometimes even white shoes. What’s that all about? I imagine it has something to do with appearing pure before the Almighty, but any additional explanation you can[…]

Song of the Angels

From: Matt Dear Rabbi, On Yom Kippur, why do we have the custom of saying the phrase recited after the “Shema” out loud when we usually recite it in a whisper? Or why do we usually say it in a whisper if on Yom Kippur we say it out loud? Dear Matt, When reciting the[…]

The Fast of Gedalyah

From: Anthony Dear Rabbi, What is the fast of Gedalyah and what does it have to do with the period between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur? Is it some type of practice fast in preparation for Yom Kippur? Is it mandatory? Why is it called “Gedalyah”? Please pardon my ignorance. Dear Anthony, Thanks for your[…]

Yom Kippur Yizkor

From: Andrea in St. Louis Dear Rabbi, I know there are certain times and holidays when it is appropriate to recall the memory of the departed. I was wondering if Yom Kippur is one of those times since we ask of G‑d’s forgiveness, or if Yom Kippur applies only to the living. If appropriate, I[…]

Tefilla Zaka

From: Anat in Israel Dear Rabbi, In connection with Yom Kippur, I have seen the term “tefilla zaka”. It seems to mean “pure prayer”. Is this a general way in which we are to pray, or does it refer to a specific prayer in the service. If so, what is it, when do we say[…]

I Didn’t Do It

From: Marcus in Delaware Dear Rabbi, On Yom Kippur there is a very long list of transgressions that we are supposed to confess about. But I don’t understand why I’m being dictated what I’ve done wrong. Anyway, most of those things don’t even apply to me. I’ve never stolen, had an affair or killed anyone.[…]