Atonement

Fasting and Yom Kippur

Sep
17

During discussions of Yom Kippur several years ago, an argument was presented that nowhere does the Scripture indicate that fasting is a requirement of Yom Kippur. This struck me as an odd thing, even dangerous. I had not even heard such a thing before. I didn’t know that there was any debate over this issue among observant Jews. I knew that some Reformed Jews would casually work and not fast o­n Yom Kippur, but was not aware that there were other groups in the Jewish community that did not believe that fasting was a requirement of Yom Kippur.

Certainly the idea of fasting o­n Yom Kippur is an age old “tradition” among the more observant of both Jews and some Gentiles. There are even some “Christian” groups that fast o­n this day. Some groups fast o­n a regular basis, either for health or spiritual benefit, multiple times a year – even weekly.

The instructions in question for Yom Kippur are in the following texts:

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The Sages have said:

In the Code of Jewish Law1 it is written that a Torah scroll should be held in one's right arm (and rested on the right shoulder). This applies even if the one holding the Torah is left-handed. There are two verses that allude to this idea:1) "From His right hand was a fiery Law for them" -- Deuteronomy 33:2. The Torah was given from G‑d's right hand, as it were, and we therefore hold it in our right hand, too.2) "And His right hand will embrace me" -- Song of Songs 2:6. G‑d embraces us with His right hand, and we, in turn, embrace His holy Torah with our right hand.

Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar