Now that HaShem finished the instructions of the service of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, He said to Moshe, “The tenth day of the month of Tishrei will always be Yom Kippur, the day of forgiveness, forever – for all Bnei Yisrael!”
Although we no longer have a Kohen Gadol to offer sacrifices, it is still a day of forgiveness. It’s just that the order of the day has shifted from a day of sacrifices to a day of prayer.
On Yom Kippur we go to the synagogue for a long, long time, asking HaShem for forgiveness. And every Jew over the age of Bar or Bas Mitzvah fasts – no eating or drinking anything for the entire night and day!
Outside of Eretz Yisrael, most Jewish holidays are extended for an extra day. But not Yom Kippur – for one simple reason:
Fasting two days straight can be hazardous to your health.
Ever heard the name Sandy Koufax? He was a superstar Major League baseball pitcher for the L.A. Dodgers, born in Brooklyn, raised in the Boro Park neighborhood…. and he was Jewish! Sandy was the first major league pitcher to pitch four no-hitters and one of the only pitchers to pitch a perfect game in baseball history.
When Game #1 of the 1965 World Series was scheduled for October 6th, the Dodgers naturally wanted their star pitcher to play. But it was Yom Kippur, and Sandy proudly declared, “It’s my holy day and I will not pitch!”
This sensational announcement caused Jews everywhere to reinforce their commitment to Torah and Mitzvos as well. And you know what? The Dodgers won the series! Mazal Tov!
BTW: Not nearly as famous was another Jewish All-Star player, Hank Greenberg, who played for the Detroit Tigers. On Yom Kippur, during the 1934 playoff series, Hank was nowhere to be found on the baseball field. He was busy praying in the synagogue (where he received a standing ovation when he entered) while his team lost.
His observance inspired Mr. Edgar Guest to write a poem which read in part:
Come Yom Kippur – holy fast day to the Jew
And Hank Greenberg to his teaching and the old tradition true
Spent the day among his people and he didn’t come to play
Said Murphy to Mulrooney, “We shall lose the game today!”
We shall miss him in the infield and shall miss him at the bat
But he’s true to his religion – and I honor him for that!