Sunday, December 11, 2016

Ending Yom Kippur....

Top of the evening everyone...

Given that Hannukah is about to be upon us, I thought it high time to write about the way I calculate the ending to Yom Kippur.

Some background is in order.  First of all, the local va'ad in Toronto insists on using the strictest method of calculation possible, which is 72 minutes from the time of candle-lighting.  As well, I have seen methods that just require an hour from candle-lighting.  This was what most communities in New York did.

When I was at my pulpit in New York, my cantor insisted on fasting on Yom Kippur, despite being diabetic.  As well, he refused to use his CPAP machine.  Every year, we argued about it, and every year he did what he was going to do.

Upon reflection, it occurred to me that he was likely not the only person in the room fasting when he should not have been, when Jewish law would have told him that he should not.  On the one hand, this is good.  Rabbis everywhere want these basic observances of Jewish law to be so ingrained that it is hard to put them down even when we should.  On the other hand, there are times we should.

Shabbat and holidays can all end when there are three stars in the sky.  Many years back, someone wrote an article showing that three stars are always visible 25 minutes past sundown.  Candle-lighting is 18 minutes before sundown.  Thus, 43 minutes after candle-lighting is an acceptable time to end Shabbat and holidays.  That is when I shoot to get to the ending rituals.

What Jewish law requires, it requires.  When it comes to something like fasting, it is unreasonable for Jewish law to require even a minute more than it already does, especially since setting those times already involves a necessary stringency.  And that is for those who should fast.  When we get into the realm of those who should not fast, but do so anyway, I believe it obligatory to end as quickly as possible, absent stringencies, for the sake of their health.

Have a good evening everyone.


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