The Five Prohibitions of Yom Kippur

The Five Yom Kippur Prohibitions

The Five Yom Kippur Prohibitions

The five prohibitions of Yom Kippur prepare us for our appearance in the heavenly court of HaShem. One day in the year we imitate the holy angels in heaven, who are daily in His court.

We do not wash (for pleasure) or anoint ourselves with perfumes or lotions, since these things are requirements of earthly and temporal bodies. Like the angels, we do not eat or drink. We also abstain from marital relations, and thus behave similarly to the angels in heaven, who “neither marry, nor are given in marriage” (cf. Lk. 20:35). We do not wear leather shoes. Leather shoes express our animal aspect and the necessity of making our way through the obstacles and difficulties of this world. On Yom Kippur we connect ourselves in a special manner to the World Above and the World to Come. We prepare ourselves for the World Above and the World to Come by afflicting our souls (our nefesh, i.e. ourselves). Our souls become afflicted when we behave in a heavenly manner, because the heavenly things are far above our human nature.

There is one obvious contrast between these five prohibitions and our primary obligation of Yom Kippur, which is to confess our sins and to exercise repentance. The holy angels in heaven do not confess their sins, because they have no sins and are in no need to repent. They are sinless beings, and in this respect they closely resemble our Lord Yeshua. Yeshua is not an angel, however, but a human being. He is the one perfectly sinless Man in whom all mankind can be restored by means of the atonement he wrought for our sins.

May this day of severity and affliction make us all truly repentant of our sins and may the sweetness of forgiveness and remission be granted to us all. And may we be inscribed in the Book of Life.


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