kippurim

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:

The rabbis have taught, the Holy One, blessed by He, will say to Messiah ben David, may he be revealed soon in our days. 'Ask of Me anything and I shall give it to you.' For it is written, Adonai said to me, 'Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee. Ask of Me and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance (Psalm 2:7-8).' And when he will see that Messiah ben Joseph will be slain, he will say before Him, 'Master of the World! I ask nothing of you except life.' G~d will say to him, 'Even before you said, "life," your father David prophesied about you, as it is written, 'He asked life of thee, Thou gavest it to him. (Psalm 21:5)'

Babylonian Talmud

[Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 52a]