Yom Kippur Katan

A fast day associated with the new moon.

Print this page Print this page

There is a pre‑Safed reference to people fasting on the eve of Rosh Chodesh, since Rosh Chodesh is a minor festival on which no fasting is allowed. The waning and waxing of the moon became associated with the fate of Israel, which is compared in the Talmud to the moon. In the Kabbalah these ideas were interpreted so as to convey the mystery of the exile of the Shekhinah [God's presence], brought about by the sins of Israel.

According to the doctrine of the Sefirot [a kabbalistic notion of the divine emanations], the sun represents Tiferet and the moon MaIkhut, the Shekhinah, hence the mythically charged notion that the exile of the Shekhinah from Her Spouse, the disharmony in the Sefirotic realm, is caused by Israel's sinfulness, and harmony above will only be fully restored when Israel repents. Everything in the great cosmic drama is leading up to the coming of the Messiah. With the advent of the Messiah the exile of the "holy moon," the Shekhinah, will be ended. The new moon is welcomed as evidence of the future redemption of the Shekhinah from Her exile but, on the day before, Yom Kippur Katan, there has to be prayer, fasting, and supplication in order to find atonement for the sins committed during the previous month and thus hasten the redemption.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Louis Jacobs

Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) was a Masorti rabbi, the first leader of Masorti Judaism (also known as Conservative Judaism) in the United Kingdom, and a leading writer and thinker on Judaism.