Parsha Q&A

For the week ending 26 September 2020 / 8 Tishri 5781

Yom Kippur Q&A

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Questions & Answers

  1. Question: Passover commemorates the going out of Egypt. Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah. What historical event can Yom Kippur be said to commemorate?
    Answer: Moshe came down from Mount Sinai on the tenth of Tishrei with the second set of Tablets, signifying forgiveness for the sin of the golden calf. Yom Kippur can be said to commemorate this event, the first national day of forgiveness for the Jewish People.

  2. Question: For what kinds of sins does Yom Kippur not atone?
    Answer: Sins committed against other people, including hurting someone's feelings. Yom Kippur does not atone for these sins until the perpetrator gains forgiveness from the victim himself. (Orach Chaim 606:1)

  3. Question: What should someone do if the person he wronged does not forgive him the first time?
    Answer: He should try at least two more times to gain forgiveness.(Orach Chaim 606:1)

  4. Question: Why is the Vidui confession included during the mincha prayer the afternoon before Yom Kippur?
    Answer: Lest one choke while eating the pre-Yom Kippur meal and die without atonement, or lest one become intoxicated and unable to concentrate on the prayers at night. (Mishneh Berura 607:1)

  5. Question: On Yom Kippur we refrain from: Working, eating, drinking, washing, anointing, family relations and wearing leather shoes. Which three of these prohibitions are more severe than the others?
    Answer: Eating, drinking, working. (Mishna, Kritot 1:

  6. Question: In what two ways does the prohibition against eating food on Yom Kippur differ from the prohibition against eating pork the entire year?
    Answer: (i) Although any amount is forbidden, eating on Yom Kippur is not punishable by a Sanhedrin until one has eaten food equal in volume to the size of a date. Eating pork, on the other hand, is punishable for eating even an olive-sized piece, which is smaller than a date. (Mishneh Berura 612:1) (ii) Eating on Yom Kippur incurs the punishment of karet – spiritual excision - whereas eating pork does not.

  7. Question: Who wrote the prayer "Unesaneh Tokef" said during the chazan's repetition of musaf?
    Answer: "Unesaneh Tokef" was written by Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, Germany, about 1000 years ago.

  8. Question: Why do we read the book of Yonah on Yom Kippur?
    Answer: The repentance of the people of Ninveh serves as an inspiration to us to repent, and shows us that repentance can overturn a Divine decree. (Shelah Hakadosh)

  9. Question: In what two ways does havdala after Yom Kippur differ from havdala after Shabbat?
    Answer: After Yom Kippur, the blessing over spices is omitted from havdala. Also, the source of the flame used for havdala after Yom Kippur must be a fire kindled before Yom Kippur. (Orach Chaim 624:3,4)

  10. Question: Ideally, what mitzvah should one begin immediately after Yom Kippur?
    Answer: Building the succah. (Rema, Orach Chaim 624:5)

All references are to the verses and Rashi's commentary, unless otherwise stated.

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