Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the Jewish year. It is the culmination of the 40 days of reviewing our actions, of trying to do better, which begins with the month of Elul, and then continues with Rosh Hashanah and the remaining days of penitence.

“The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It is to be a holy assembly for you, and you must humble yourselves and present a gift to the LORD. You must not do any work on this particular day, because it is a day of atonement to make atonement for yourselves before the LORD your God.”

(Leviticus 23:27–28 NET)

In three separate passages in the Torah, the Jewish people are told, “the tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be a sacred occasion for you: You shall practice self-denial. Fasting is seen as fulfilling this biblical commandment. Strict observance requires no food or drink for the 25 hours of the fast.