intercessor/watchman: Understand Yom Kippur

The watchman was asked in his spirit to understand and identify with the Jewish brothers (natural descendants of Abraham, father of faith) on their national day of atonement. So he has found some useful information which he will publish on this blog for others who are like him.

CUSTOM AND LAWS (from National Jewish Outreach)

“A. Yom Kippur is a Yom Tov, a festival day, which is observed like Shabbat. ”

“B. Afflicting your soul – “…on the tenth of the month, you shall afflict your souls and do no work at all…for on that day will G-d forgive you and cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before G-d” (Leviticus 16:29-30). How does one afflict one’s soul and why? The oral law enumerates five prohibitions as the way to “afflict your soul” on Yom Kippur: eating and drinking, washing, annointing, wearing leather shoes and marital relations. By refraining from these actions, one is reminded that it is the spirit that must be the focus, not the body. It may seem the opposite is true, that a person would focus on being hungry or thirsty or uncomfortable from not washing, but such discomforts are temporary and on Yom Kippur one can transcend physical discomfort to connect with the spirit of the day.”

Yom Kippur is a Jewish holy day that takes place 10 days after Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year). Also known as the Day of Atonement, it is a time for introspection, prayer and forgiveness.

How to Prepare for the Yom Kippur Fast (By an eHow Contributor )

During Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday also known as the Day of Atonement, adults are required to refrain from eating or drinking for a 25-hour period from one-half hour before sundown until nightfall the next day. By properly preparing your body for this “affliction of the soul,” as it is known, you can reduce the pain and discomfort associated with the fast.

Prepare for the Yom Kippur Fast
1 Reduce and eventually eliminate the amount of caffeine, refined sugar and tobacco products you consume in the days leading up to the Yom Kippur fast. A sudden “cold turkey” approach may increase the chance of headaches and withdrawal symptoms during the fast.
2 Drink plenty of water on the day prior to Yom Kippur. This will help you to digest all of the food eaten at the Seudah Mafseket feast more easily, and will help prevent dehydration during the fast.
3 Prepare fish or poultry for the morning meal on the day before Yom Kippur begins. This will help you to store more energy later on, since other meats are prohibited on this day.
4 Partake in the Seudah Mafseket (“last meal”) feast. Eat only foods that are not heavily seasoned or salted, which can aggravate dehydration later. Prepare foods that are filling and high in carbohydrates, such as kreplach (dumplings), rice and bread.
5 Brush your teeth thoroughly just after the Seudah Mafseket, and just before sundown. This will help to reduce the bad breath that occurs during fasting periods.
6 Conserve your energy once you have started the fast. Take a nap halfway through the day, and reduce physical activity. Generally, your body will tell you what you can and cannot do during a fast, so listen to it. Most of all, try not to talk with others about food or how hungry you are, which will make you even hungrier.
How to observe Yom Kippur
1 Take the day off from work.
2 Observe the Yom Kippur fast, beginning at sundown the night before and ending after nightfall on Yom Kippur. (Skip this step if you are pregnant, nursing or under age 13.)
3 Attend the Kol Nidre service at your synagogue. This service takes place the evening before Yom Kippur.
4 Reflect on the mistakes you have made in the past year, and plan how to avoid them in the future.
5 Make amends with anyone who has wronged you or whom you have offended. Ask forgiveness and let go of old grudges.
6 Find out in advance when services are being held at your synagogue, and attend at least one on the day of Yom Kippur.
Prepare a Seudah Mafseket Before Yom Kippur
1 Decide which foods you are going to serve for Seudah Mafseket. Usually, rice and kreplach (dumpling) dishes are the more traditional choices, along with plenty of bread, since meat is not to be consumed on the day before Yom Kippur. Fish and poultry are considered appropriate, although more orthodox Jews prefer to confine those to a separate meal earlier in the day.
2 Put as little salt and seasoning into the food as possible. While you want to eat enough food to get you through the fasting period as safely as possible, the idea is to provide simple foods that aren’t rich or extravagant. Heavily seasoned foods can also aggravate dehydration.
3 Avoid drinking too much alcohol during the Seudah Mafseket, since saying prayers while you are drunk is considered an abomination before God. It is also important to bless the bread, but not the wine, during this meal.
4 Restrict your intake of caffeine during the entire day, which can intensify the headaches you may experience during the fasting period of Yom Kippur.
5 Drink plenty of water during the day to help ready your body for Yom Kippur, since fasting can accelerate dehydration.
6 Choose to eat foods that are easy to digest, since you may be eating a larger than normal amount to prepare for Yom Kippur.
7 Recite both the Grace after Meals, and Psalm 126 upon completion of the Seudah Mafseket, which should be concluded at least 30 minutes before sundown. Psalm 126 is especially important, since it reaffirms that redemption has not yet taken place, and there is hard work ahead during the Day of Atonement.
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Break the fast recipes
Here are two which seem easy to try:

Apple Crisp

Ingredients :

1) Tart apples – 8, peeled, cored and sliced.
2) Water – 1/2 cup.
3) Cinnamon – 1 tsp.
4) Nutmeg – 1/4 tsp.
5) Flour – 1 cup.
6) Butter/margarine – 7 tsp., unsalted.
7) Sugar – 3/4 cup.

Preparation :

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Lightly butter a baking dish (dimensions: 7 1/2- by 11 3/4-inch). Scatter the peeled apple slices evenly across its bottom. Pour in the water. Also add in the cinnamon and nutmeg.

3) Get a small bowl. Pour in it the flour, butter and sugar. Combine all of it together with a fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Spread this mixture evenly over the apples and bake for 30 minutes (or until the top becomes crispy and the apple filling turns frothy).

4) Drizzle the apple crisp with some honey. Pour some vanilla ice cream also. Serve warm.


Cucumber Salad With Dill

Ingredients :

1) Water – 1 cup.
2) White vinegar – 1 cup.
3) Salt – 1/4 tsp.
4) Sugar – 1 cup.
5) Cucumbers – 2 large (hot-house variety), sliced paper-thin.
6) Dried dill weed or Fresh minced dill – 2 tbsp.
7) Bibb lettuce – 1 head.
8) Arugala – 1 bunch.
9) Cherry tomatoes (for garnish)
10) A large glass bowl

Preparation :

1) In the large glass bowl, combine the water, vinegar, salt and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the cucumbers and toss.

2) Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

3) Take it out of the freezer and drain. Garnish with watercress and cherry tomatoes. Serve on lettuce leaves.

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