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The Shabbat of Shabbats, on Shabbat

Gaming out this year’s Yom Kippur

Marc Tracy
September 17, 2010
A Shabbat table, with a random Buddha.TikkunGer/Flickr
A Shabbat table, with a random Buddha.TikkunGer/Flickr

What makes this Yom Kippur different from all other Yom Kippurs? Or at least approximately 6/7th of all others? This year, the Shabbat Shabaton—the Sabbath of Sabbaths—falls on, well, Shabbat. Of course, because the yom tov is already, in a sense, Shabbat, it does not really make for a hugely substantial change to the day (unlike when, say, Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat, and services seem truly endless). However, according to Rabbi Daniel Nevins of the Jewish Theological Seminary, there are a few changes.

• In addition to the usual Shabbat restrictions on work, there is “no eating, drinking, washing, perfuming, sex, or fancy shoes.”

• On Friday night, Psalms 92 (the Shabbat Psalm) and 93 are added to the Yom Kippur service.

• During all of the standing prayers (the Amidot), there are Shabbat-specific additions.

• “Avenu Malkenu,” which you would normally sing throughout Yom Kippur, is not sung until the final service, Neilah, “since by then Shabbat is pretty much over.”

Adds Rabbi Nevins, “Obviously we’ll miss the joy of Shabbat, but most people feel the purifying power of this day as its own reward. Also, since most of our festivals are falling out adjacent to Shabbat this year, yielding three-day holidays (which can feel like too much of a good thing), it is nice to have one festival overlap with Shabbat.”

I don’t know about the too-much-of-a-good-thing part, but it does feel appropriate to have Yom Kippur on Shabbat.

Finally, if you need any advice on how to have the proverbial “easy fast,” here are my suggestions (caffeine suppositories optional). For further questions, do consult Tablet Magazine’s Yom Kippur FAQ.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.