יוֹם כִּפּוּר mean
Day of Atonement. A remark for those who doesn't know: Yom Kippur is
considered the most important prayer day in our religion, the day the God is
judging the whole world and the Jewish people in particular for their sins
during the year.
The name of the custom of
Kapparot means "atonements",
single form: כַּפָּרָה.
From grammar perspective,
כפרה are two different words; but the
actually mean more or less the same, while the word
כיפור is mainly
reserved for the holiday name.
In this day the God is
sealing the Book of Life. That's why we say to each other:
גְּמַר חֲתִימָה טוֹבִה
[ gmar chatima
"(Have a) good sealing (completion)!" kind of thing.
On Yom Kippur we pray a
unique prayer called כָּל
נִדְרֵי [ kol nidrei
] - "All vows" in Aramaic:
[ kol ] (=all) is a word familiar to everybody who ever
looked in Hebrew book. The second word, although Aramaic, is used in modern
Hebrew (mainly in singular form) as
נֶדֶר [ neder
]. When somebody is saying
[ bli neder ], it means "I'll try (to do something), but
cannot swear on that."
The history of Kol
Nidrei is interesting though. Midieval Europe wasn't as tolerant to
religious pluralism as, say, ancient Greece or modern Western world. The Jew
were often forced to cross the lines of religious laws for different reasons,
some were forced to convert, etc. That's when (the history tells us) the Kol
Nidrei prayer (rather declaration) was introduced. In Kol Nidrei
the we ask the God to forgive the intentional and unintentional sins we are
committing. (More on Kol
Nidrei in Wikipedia.)
You may ask, is this prayer
still relevant? We live in the epoch of religious tolerance (well, if it's not
Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, all right), and almost half of world Jewish
population live in Israel anyway, where everybody has freedom to do or not to do
whatever they need. Well, we probably are too conservative in all related to our
liturgy... or maybe people just understand that nobody is perfect.
We are also fasting all day
in Yom Kippur. Fast day is
יוֹם צוֹם [ yom tzom ]
and the verb to fast is:
לָצוּם [ latzum ], (is) fasting:
[ tzam ].
The end of Yom Kippur
fasting is marked with blowing Shofar again.
Wikipedia on Yom Kippur
Historical Remark 1:
Yom Kippur War
Although not part of our
religious tradition, it became an important part of modern Israeli history.
When the Arabs decided to
start the war in Yom Kippur, it wasn't just Yom Kippur customs (when you fast
and pray all day long) which failed Israel in the beginning of the war. It's the
"concept" of the back-then government led by Golda Meir which was basically
telling "Arabs won't ever attack us again, because they don't want to lose more
land. It doesn't pay off". This "concept" was proven to be wrong, the government
retired, Golda Meir wasn't re-elected, and Israel (although presumably won the
battle) started the negotiations with Egypt, which led to giving up Sinai
peninsula. That's why Egyptians consider they won this war: regardless of the
battle, if at the end you give up your territory, you've probably lost the war.
It's another historical
lesson: don't assume anything. At least, don't be too optimistic: you might
assume the best, but still should be prepared to the worst.
Some relevant Hebrew
מִלְחֶמֶת יוֹם הִכִּפּוּרִים
- [ milchemet
] - Yom Kippur War
- [ heskem
- Peace Treatment
- [ heskem
] means "treatment", rather "agreement".
עִם מִצְרַיִם - [ heskem
- Peace Agreement with Egypt
The word [
is used quite often in everyday's life, like
- [ heskem `avoda ] - employment agreement
- [ hafsakat esh ] - cease-fire
2: Babi Yar
In my perception, one event
is always connected to High Holidays, and that's WWII event: in September 1941
the German army entered Kiev
(capital of Ukraine, and "the mother of all Russian cities"), a city with
substantial Jewish population back then. It was September 28, 1941 - two days before Yom
Kippur, when all the Jews of Kiev were ordered to leave they homes and go to
concentration camp of Babiy Yar. Over 33,000 Jews were killed in a single
operation on September 29-30, 1941, on the eve of Yom Kippur. It was possibly
the largest two-day massacre during the Holocaust.
and the place are as famous as large concentration camps in Poland, because of smaller
total number of victims. "Just" tens of thousands were murdered there (which is
not a particularly big number on the scales of WWII), and the Soviets never
rejected the fact, neither attempted to make it widely known. Hell, they even
had put a monument saying "hundreds of thousands of innocent Soviet citizens
were massacred here by the Nazis". The monument was erected in 1974 or 1975. No
mention of the Jews though until the Perestroyka, when additional memorial table
in Yiddish was added (not sure when exactly, I personally have seen it in 1990
or 1989.) However, the people of Kiev knew very well "where the Jews were
killed". (After the massacre of Jews, and to the liberation of Kiev by Soviets
in 1943, more local people, Gypsies, who were targeted to extermination like the
Jews, as well as Ukrainians and Russians, mostly civilians were killed in the
same place, with total number of victims about 100,000.)
may wonder, if the history of Babi Yar is not as widely known as Maydanek or
Treblinka, how I know all this... See, I grew up in that city. My grandmothers
left the city in 1941 and fled to the East, while both of my grandfathers were
in the Red Army. All of their family members who remained in Kiev were killed,
as well as almost all other relatives in Odessa and Warsaw. Part of my family
history, which I always recall during the High Holidays.
Sorry, no Hebrew teaching on