The 10 Days
THE TEN DAYS OF REPENTANCE
As the sun sets on Yom Kippur, the judgment handed down on Rosh Hashana is sealed. Known as the Ten Days of Repentance, the first ten days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei (from the beginning of Rosh Hashana until the end of Yom Kippur) are highlighted by an intensified desire for teshuva (repentance).
How to Change the Sentence in Ten Days:
Teshuva, Tefila U’Tzedukah(Repentance, Prayer and Charity)
Teshuva, repentance, is the major focus both before and after Rosh Hashana. During the Ten Days of Repentance, it is customary to scrutinize one’s actions and to review the process of teshuva that was begun during Elul, the month before Rosh Hashana. Many people make extra efforts at self-improvement during the Ten Days. For instance:
- Someone just starting to get more involved with Judaism may determine that the perfect time to begin eating kosher food is during the Ten Days.
- Someone who is farther along in his/her involvement may decide to use the Ten Days to begin davening (praying) regularly.
- Some people choose to strengthen themselves during the Ten Days by designating one hour a day during which they are particularly careful not to speak Lashon Harah (evil or gossip)
- The concluding words of the first blessing are changed to: Remember us for life, O King Who desires life, and inscribe us in the Book of Life — for Your sake, O Living G-d
- The conclusion of the second blessing is changed to: Who is like You, merciful Father, Who recalls His creatures mercifully for life.
- The third blessing is amended to end with the holy King instead of the holy G-d.
- The ending of the blessing for the restoration of justice is changed to: the King of Judgment.
- During the second to last blessing, we insert the line: And inscribe all the children of Your covenant for a good life.
- The ending of the final blessing is changed to: In the Book of Life, Blessing, and Peace, good livelihood, may we be remembered and inscribed before You, we and Your entire people, the Family of Israel, for a good life and for peace. Blessed are You, G-d, Who makes peace.
Avinu Malkenu, “Our Father, Our King,” a petitional prayer asking G-d to intervene for our benefit, is recited during the morning and afternoon services.
Tzedakah, charity, is an additional method one may seek to revise or avoid a negative verdict.
*Isn’t that bribing G-d? No. The life-long goal of the human being is to move closer to G-d. While Judaism has mandated laws about giving charity, these laws are meant to develop a person’s sensitivity to those in need. During the Ten Days, when we seek to show G-d that we have grown and are striving to be better, giving charity fortifies our fundamental giving instinct. Rather than bribing G-d, we are actively reminding ourselves of the direction in which we should be moving.
The Fast Of Gedaliah (Tzum Gedaliah)
The Fast of Gedaliah is observed to commemorate of the murder of Gedaliah the son of Achikam, which is described in the last chapter of the Second Book of Kings. This murder resulted in the final Babylonian exile and destruction:
After the first Holy Temple was destroyed and the Babylonians had driven the majority of the Jewish people into exile, a small minority of Jews were permitted to remain in the Land of Israel. Also, Jews who had fled during the war returned and began to work the land.
Nebuchadnetzar, the King of Babylon, appointed Gedaliah to be the governor over the remaining population.
The King of Ammon, a neighboring country, was vying for control over the Land of Israel against the Babylonians. He commissioned Yishmael the son of Netanyah to remove Gedaliah.
Murder! Yishmael, who was a descendant of King David, came to the town of Mitzpeh and murdered Gedaliah and all those that were with him.
In fear of retribution for the murder of the appointed governor, the remaining Jews fled the Land of Israel, thus completing the exile.
The Fast of Gedaliah is observed on the third day of Tishrei, the day after Rosh Hashana. The fast begins at the break of dawn and ends at nightfall .
* Some people will get up before dawn and have an early morning breakfast (but this is only permitted if a decision to do so is verbally expressed the night before).
Do’s and Don’ts
1) During the duration of the fast, eating and drinking are prohibited.
2) Unlike Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av (The Day of Atonement and the Ninth of Av), bathing, anointing, marital relations and wearing leather are permitted.
3) Pregnant and nursing women, and others with health considerations may be exempt from fasting (please consult your rabbi). Children under the age of bar/bat mitzvah (13 for boys, 12 for girls) are not required to fast.
4) Special prayers are added to the synagogue services:
a) Selichot (Penitential Prayers) and Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father, Our King) are recited.
b) At the morning service, Exodus 32:11-14 and 34: 1-10 are read from the Torah.
5) If the third of Tishrei falls out on Shabbat, the fast is postponed until Sunday, as it is forbidden to fast on Shabbat (with the exception of Yom Kippur).