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Ask the Rabbi - 288

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October 7, 2000 / 8 Tishrei 5761; Issue #288

Kipper and Kippur


Gina Kipper from Athens, OH wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

What exactly is Yom Kippur and is "it" a person?

Dear Gina Kipper,

No, Yom Kippur is not a person! Yom Kippur means "the Day of Atonement." It is a Jewish Holiday of complete fasting (even from water) and introspection. It is actually a happy day, with festive meals before and after. We are happy because G-d promises to forgives our sins on this day, if we truly resolve to be better. (See Levicticus 23:26-32)

Life in the Fast Vein


Ivy Epstein <via email> wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

If someone is sick and needs to eat on Yom Kippur, why not do so through intravenous? I understand that "eating" intravenously would not technically violate the fast. So why don't sick people check in to a hospital before Yom Kippur and "drink" intravenously, instead of actually breaking the fast?

Dear Ivy Epstein,

The obligation to fast starts on Yom Kippur itself, not before. Once Yom Kippur arrives, it's forbidden to hook up to intravenous, since blood will spill.

And before Yom Kippur, there's no obligation, per se, to prepare for the fast. Therefore, there's no obligation to hook up to intravenous.

And since there's no obligation to "eat" intravenously, it might actually be forbidden to do so if you don't need to. For one, inserting a needle is a transgression of the prohibition against unnecessarily wounding oneself. And who knows, intravenous may involve certain health risks, all of which may not be known at present.

  • Iggrot Moshe Orach Chaim 3:90

Falling in the Fall


D. Rubinstein wrote:

Dear Rabbi:

Why does Succot fall on the calendar after Yom Kippur, and not after Passover? Succot deals with the fact that we sat in huts in the wilderness after we left Egypt, and the clouds that protected us. We were sitting in those huts and had those clouds right when we left Egypt, so historically, Succot should come right after, or during, Pesach.

Dear D. Rubinstein

Passover is in the spring when the weather stars getting warmer; if we were to make huts in the spring, it might seem like we were just building vacation bungalows to escape from the heat. Therefore, the Torah commanded us to build our succah-booths in the fall when it starts getting cool, making it clear that the succah is a commandment and not a cabana.

The Vilna Gaon offers another explanation: The succah represents the clouds of glory with which G-d protected us in the desert. Hashem took away these clouds when we made the Golden Calf, and when He forgave us that year on Yom Kippur, the clouds came back. So, Succot celebrates the return of those clouds after the first Yom Kippur in the desert.

The Public Domain
Comments, quibbles, and reactions concerning previous "Ask-the-Rabbi" features.


In a recent "Yiddle Riddle" you asked: My older brother is my twin. Although he is perfectly healthy in every way, he will not fast this year on Yom Kippur, although I will. Why?" Your answer was that the speaker is a girl, and as such becomes bas mitzvah a year earlier than a boy. My oldest daughters, Esti and Bracha Tova, ages 13 and 12, came up with a different answer to this particular Yiddle Riddle: The older twin is not Jewish, and therefore not required to fast, and his twin is a convert to Judaism.

Mrs. Hana-Bashe Himelstein, Baltimore, MD

Written by Rabbi Reuven Lauffer, Rabbi Reuven Subar, Rabbi Mordecai Becher, Rabbi Baruch Rappaport, Rabbi Moshe Yossef and other Rabbis at Ohr Somayach Institutions / Tanenbaum College, Jerusalem, Israel.

General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
Production Design: Michael Treblow

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