Mitzvah Yom Kippur

Resting on Yom Kippur

Positive Commandment 165

The 165th mitzvah is that we are commanded to refrain from the various categories of melachah1 and prohibited activities2 on this day [of Yom Kippur]

The source of this commandment is G‑d‘s statement,3 "It is a Sabbath of Sabbaths to you."

We have already explained many times4 that the term Shabbason indicates a positive commandment.5


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FOOTNOTES
1.

See first footnote in N320.

2.

. Kapach, 5731, footnote 23 points out that the Arabic word, "ashgal" refers in this context to all other types of prohibited activity.

3.

Lev. 16:31.

4.

See P90, P135, P159, and P163.

5.

Since this mitzvah prohibits melachah, it would seem to be a negative commandment. However, since the term "Shabbason" is used, the mitzvah is counted among the positive commandments.

Working on Yom Kippur

Negative Commandment 329

The 329th prohibition is that we are forbidden from performing melachah1 on Yom Kippur.

The source of this commandment is G‑d‘s statement,2 "Do not do any melachah [on this day, because it is a day of atonement]."

If one intentionally transgresses this commandment, the punishment is kores3 as explained in Scripture.4 If the act was unintentional, he must bring a sin-offering.5

The details of this commandment are explained in tractate Beitza6 and Megillah.7


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FOOTNOTES
1.

See first footnote in N320.

2.

Lev. 23:28.

3.

See Principle 14, where the Rambam defines kores as losing one’s portion in the World to Come (unless the person does teshuvah before death). See also Hilchos Teshuvah, Chapter 8, Halachah. 1.

4.

Lev. 23:30. "If one does any work on this day, I will destroy him [i.e. punish him with kores] from among his people."

5.

See P69. This offering is called a "fixed sin-offering," to distinguish it from the offering of adjustable value (P72).

6.

18b.

7.

30b.

Fasting on Yom Kippur

Positive Commandment 164

The 164th mitzvah is that we are commanded to fast on the tenth of Tishrei [i.e. Yom Kippur].

The source of this commandment is G‑d‘s statement1 (exalted be He), "You must afflict your lives."

The Sifra explains: "The expression ‘You must afflict your lives’ refers to ‘affliction’ that affects one’s actual life. What is that? Eating and drinking."

The Oral Tradition2 explains that one must also refrain from bathing, anointing, wearing leather shoes, and engaging in marital relations.

The source that one must refrain from all these activities is the verse,3 "It is a Sabbath of Sabbaths to you, and you must afflict your lives." The verse says, "Sabbath of Sabbaths," to indicate that one must refrain [observe a "Sabbath"] from the various categories of melachah4 and prohibited activities, and that one must refrain [observe a "Sabbath"] from those things which nourish and sustain the body. The Sifra says, "What is the source that bathing, anointing, and marital relations are forbidden on Yom Kippur? From the verse, ‘Sabbath of Sabbaths.’ " This means that one must refrain [observe a "Sabbath"] from these activities in order to reach the state of affliction.5


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FOOTNOTES
1.

Lev. 16:29.

2.

See Yoma 73a.

3.

Lev. 16:31.

4.

See P165.

5.

Therefore the verse says, "It is a Sabbath of Sabbaths to you, and you must afflict your lives": through making a "Sabbath" (i.e. refraining from these activities), one reaches a state of affliction.

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Eating on Yom Kippur

Negative Commandment 196

The 196th prohibition is that we are forbidden from eating on Yom Kippur.

There is no verse in the Torah that explicitly prohibits this act.1 However, since the punishment – that one who eats is punished by kores – is mentioned, we know that eating is counted as a prohibition.

The source which describes the punishment is G‑d‘s statement,2 "If anyone does not fast on this day, he shall be punished by kores."

In the beginning of Tractate Kerisus, all those who are punished by kores are listed, and one who eats on Yom Kippur is listed among them. It also explains that all mitzvos which are punishable by kores are prohibitions, except for the Pesach sacrifice and circumcision. Therefore, clearly eating on Yom Kippur counts as a prohibition.

Therefore, if one intentionally transgresses this commandment, the punishment is kores, and if the act was unintentional, he must bring a sin-offering, as explained in the beginning of Tractate Kerisus.

This [i.e. that eating on Yom Kippur counts also as a prohibition] is also explained in the Tractate Horiyos,3 which rules that one is required to bring a sin-offering only if one violates a prohibition. The proof for this is G‑d’s statement4 (may He be exalted and elevated) regarding those who are required to bring a sin-offering, "[And they violate] one of the prohibitory commandments of G‑d."

The Sifra says5: "The verse, ‘If anyone does not fast on this day, he shall be punished by kores", describes the punishment for not fasting. However, we do not have a verse to serve as the actual prohibition.

But [there is an "extra" verse that serves as the actual prohibition;] we do not really need a verse to tell you the punishment for doing melachah on Yom Kippur, because we could derive it from the following kal vechomer:6 if for the prohibition of fasting, which [applies only on Yom Kippur, and] not on Shabbos and holidays, one receives punishment, then certainly for the prohibition of melachah, which applies on holidays and Shabbos [and is therefore more strict] one should receive punishment. If so, why is there a verse stating the punishment for doing melachah? From it we learn the actual prohibition of eating on Yom Kippur: just as the punishment for melachah follows its prohibition, so too the punishment for eating follows its prohibition."

The details of this mitzvah are explained in Tractate Yoma.


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FOOTNOTES
1.

The rule is that every prohibition has one verse which tells you that the act is prohibited, and another verse which gives the punishment for the transgression. (See N195.) Regarding not eating on Yom Kippur, the only apparent verse is the one describing the punishment. The Rambam therefore first explains how we know that eating on Yom Kippur counts as a prohibition, and then explains which verse tells us the actual prohibition.

2.

Lev. 23:29.

3.

See Rambam’s Commentary on the Mishneh, Ch. 2, Mishneh 4.

4.

Lev. 4:13.

5.

After having established that not eating on Yom Kippur must be a prohibition, the Rambam now quotes the Sifra, which identifies the verse that serves as the actual prohibition itself.

6.

This general principle of the Oral Tradition allows one to generalize from one case to a more obvious one. Here, since the less serious prohibition (eating on Yom Kippur) is punished by kores, certainly the more serious prohibition (doing melachah on Yom Kippur) would punished by kores, even if the verse regarding melachah (Lev. 23:30, N329 above) would not have been written.

 

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