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Q&A: Keeping Food Hot for Yom Kippur, and Women at Prayer

September 20, 2015

Question: How can I feed my kids hot food on Yom Kippur? Is there any way?

Answer: With regard to the m’lachoth, what ever is forbidden on the weekly Sabbath is also forbidden on Yom Kippur. Presumably then, you could leave food hot or reheat fully cooked foods using the usual permitted methods. Throughout most of history, most households did not make use of all the available methods, though, as it was just not worth it to leave the oven or kuppach or stove hot the entire time, but they did insulate food. The Shulhan Aruch explicitly permits insulating hot food before Yom Kippur for consumption after Yom Kippur. However, the Rema writes that the Ashkenazic custom is not to do so. The Vilna Gaon explains that technically the Shulhan Aruch’s opinion is correct, as we can do any m’lacha and any preparation on a weekday (Yom Kippur Eve) for another weekday (after Yom Kippur) and sometimes we can even begin to prepare the post-Yom Kippur breakfast as the fast nears its end, but the Rema’s opinion respects an early G’onic assumption that insulation was originally completely forbidden, but the sages permitted insulating hot food before the weekly Sabbath so that there would be hot food available for that Sabbath day. Therefore, because the food in question is not for consumption on Yom Kippur, it would be forbidden to insulate it before Yom Kippur starts. However, in the case you are asking about, the food is specifically intended for consumption on Yom Kippur by those who are supposed to be eating on Yom Kippur, and therefore whatever considerations we would have to specifically prohibit this act because the day in question is Yom Kippur and not the ordinary Sabbath do not come into account. Indeed, this is what they do at Jewish hospitals on Yom Kippur: The procedures for preparing and serving the food to the non-fasting patients are almost the same as those for every Sabbath.

Question: I would really like to davven on Yom Kippur, but I don’t have time to say everything in the mahzor, and the kids don’t give me enough time to do anything. Help!

Answer: I have written before about how because it is the man’s obligation to pray in the synagogue and not the woman’s, it is important that she stay home with the children so that the children not disrupt the services. Most men are in the synagogues for hours, morning and afternoon and evening, so if you wish to say all the prayers, I recommend you do the following:

In the evening, first put your children to sleep before attempting to pray. At night, all you need to recite is the Yom Kippur amida with the extended subsequent confession, exactly as found in the mahzor. You may also recite sh’ma and its blessings before that. The service found after the evening amida is usually only said in the presence of a minyan, but there are certain sections you can also add on your own.

In the morning, you should team up with another woman in a similar circumstance. You probably have at least a good three-hour window that morning while your husband is gone. I recommend that the two of you take turns. Starting before 8am, one of you should watch all the children for an hour and a half while the other recites the morning and musaf amidoth, and then switch. You can do the same for minha and n’ila later in the afternoon. Remember, you only need to recite each amida with the confession afterward. The lengthy leader’s repetitions that make up the bulk of the mahzorim have no relevance if you are not attending a minyan.


From → halacha

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