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5 things to keep in mind through Yom Kippur

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

It may sound strange, but it's already Wednesday. Here are five things to keep in mind through Yom Kippur.

1. How do we greet each other between now and Yom Kippur? With either "Chatima tova" or "Gemar chatima tova" -- May you be inscribed or May you be sealed (in the Book of Life).

2. Today is the Fast of Gedaliah. This fast day commemorates the murder of Gedaliah ben Ahikam by a Jew named Yishmael ben Netanyah. Gedaliah had been appointed governor over the remnant of Jews who remained in Eretz Yisrael after the destruction of the First Temple by Nebuchadnezzar. This tragic murder marked the end of Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel during the First Temple period and the exile of the last remaining Jews from their homeland.

3. Today is the third day of the Ten Days of Teshuvah. The first two days were Rosh HaShanah and the tenth day, of course, will be Yom Kippur on the 10th of Tishrei. These are "Yemei Ratzon" (days of favor) in which our hearts are open, the heavens are open, and it's possible to make positive changes more readily than during the course of the year.

4. It is customary to recite Selichot (prayers for divine forgiveness) up until Yom Kippur eve. Each night, tens of thousands will come to the Western Wall, yet Selichot prayer services will be held during these days throughout the Jewish world as well.

5. During the first ten days of the year, special additions are made to the daily prayers. Within the everyday prayer text, words are inserted that reflect the unique character of these days. Here is an example: "And in the Book of Life, blessing, peace, and prosperity, deliverance, consolation, and favorable decrees, may we and all Your people the House of Israel be remembered and inscribed before you for a happy life and for peace." Amen.


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