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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:

Does not atonement come through the blood, as it is said: For it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life!

Babylonian Talmud

Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 5a referring to Vayikra (Lev.) 17:11 in the Tanakh