Parshas Vayelech.

 

The laws of Yom Kippur.

 

1. On the day before Yom Kippur, there is a mitzvah to eat well. (Besides the fact that it will help us fasting, there are deep Kabbalistic reasons for this as is described in the writings of Arizal).

2. Any work that is prohibited on Shabbos is forbidden on Yom Kippur as well. Besides this, it is forbidden to eat or drink, wash or smear oils and creams, wear leather shoes and have marital relations. We will now discuss each of these prohibitions separately.

 

3. The Torah forbids eating or drinking on Yom Kippur in any amount. However, the person does not get Kares Ė spiritual incision, unless he eats as much food as the size of an average date within about nine minutes or drinks a full cheek of liquid. For this reason, a person for whom fasting is dangerous is usually fed in small quantities every nine minutes or so. Obviously, if even this is not enough, he can be fed normally, when there is life danger according to the doctorís decision.

 

4. We donít wash even hands and face on Yom Kippur. However, after sleeping or going to the bathroom we are allowed to wash our fingers three times. We donít use any lotions or soaps on Yom Kippur. Note that solid soaps and creams cannot be used on a regular Shabbos or Yom Tov as well, however liquid soaps are permitted but not on Yom Kippur.

 

5. According to the majority opinion the prohibition against wearing shoes applies only to leather shoes. For this reason most Jews wear rubber shoes on Yom Kippur. However, there is also a strict opinion according to which all shoes are forbidden and only wearing socks is permitted. Note, that some people take offtheir rubber shoes at least during the prayers.

 

6. On Yom Kippur the husband and the wife behave like when she is Nidah. They sleep on separate beds at a distance from each other and donít touch one another.

 

7. On Yom Kippur we pray five times. The last prayer is called Neilah Ė the closing of the Heavenly gates. This is our last chance for return. Obviously it is possible to return to the Creator at any time, but on Yom Kippur we are given special strength to do this and one can rectify his misdeeds to a much greater extent.

 

8. After Yom Kippur, Havdallah is made, but not the same way as after a regular Shabbos Ė we donít make a brocha on the nicely smelling spices. The fire needed for Havdallah has to be lit from before Yom Kippur, for this purpose we light a long candle before the holiday.