“You shall afflict your souls…” (Vaikra 32:27)
All Jewish adults are obligated to fast from sundown until nightfall on Yom Kippur. The Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 313) explains that we must also abstain from washing, anointing ourselves, wearing leather shoes, and having marital relations. All this serves to help us control our physical desires and be worthy of forgiveness for all of our sins.
There is a great mitzvah to eat on the day before Yom Kippur. There are three reasons for this (Shaarei Teshuvah 4:8-10):
1. To demonstrate our joy in the arrival of the Day of Atonement for our sins.
2. To rejoice in the mitzvah to observe the holiday of Yom Kippur.
3. So that we will have the strength to increase our prayers and supplications on Yom Kippur and to focus on planning strategies for repentance.
Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Moshe Goldberger and Torah.org.