Ten Days of Repentance

In Judaism, the Ten Days of Repentance (עֲשֶׂרֶת יְמֵי תְּשׁוּבָה‎, ʿǍseret yəmēy təšūvā) are the first ten days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, beginning with the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah and ending with the conclusion of Yom Kippur. These days usually fall in September and/or early October.

Due to the proximity to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, in this period Jews focus on repenting for their sins and seeking out closeness with God.



The term "Ten Days of Repentance" appears in such early sources as the Jerusalem Talmud, the Pesikta Rabbati, and the writings of the Geonim, and has been the predominant title since the period of the Rishonim.[1] The Babylonian Talmud uses a different expression - "the ten days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom HaKippurim" - while among Geonim we also find "the ten days from the beginning of Tishrei to Yom HaKippurim," "the first ten days of the month of Tishrei," and "(the time) between Rosh HaShanah and Yom HaKippurim."[1]



During this time it is considered appropriate for Jews to practice repentance (Hebrew: teshuvah, literally: "returning"), meaning examining one's ways, engaging in repentance and improving one's ways in anticipation of Yom Kippur. This repentance may be expressed as early morning penitentiary prayers (known as selichot), giving of charity, acts of kindness, self-reflection, or extra zehirut (spiritual vigilance).[1]

The period is described as a special one in the Talmud:

"Seek Hashem when He is to be found" (Isaiah 55:6) - these are the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.[2]

Maimonides provides a fuller description:

Despite the fact that "Teshuvah" and crying out to HaShem are always timely, during the Ten Days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom HaKippurim they are exceedingly appropriate, and are accepted immediately, as it says, "Seek Hashem when He is to be found".[3]
Every person should view himself all year as if he were half innocent and half guilty. And that is the way he should look at the world as well, as if it were half innocent and half guilty. If he sinned one sin, he placed himself and the whole world on the side of guilt... if he performed one mitzvah, he placed himself and the whole world on the side of merit... Therefore, the whole House of Israel are accustomed to give more tzedakah, and to do more good deeds, and to engage in mitzvot, from Rosh HaShanah through Yom Kippur more than the rest of the year. And they have all adopted the custom of rising at night during this ten-day period and praying in the synagogues prayers of supplication and entreaties until daylight.[4]

According to Nahmanides, "on Rosh Hashana He [God] sits on the throne as a true judge, and afterwards in the Ten Days of Repentance He pardons the crime of His servants".[5]

The days


The first two days of the Ten Days of Repentance are Rosh Hashanah.

The third day is Fast of Gedalia (except when Rosh Hashanah occurs on Thursday and Friday, in which case the Fast of Gedalia is postponed until Sunday).

Of the seven days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, one is always Shabbat. This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Shuvah ("Sabbath [of] Return"), based on the Haftarah read after the weekly Torah portion, which starts with the word "Shuva" literally meaning "Return!", thus playing into the theme of the Ten Days. Alternatively it is known as Shabbat Teshuvah, due to the same theme.

The tenth and last day is Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur together constitute the High Holy Days.



The Unetanneh Tokef prayer, recited on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, declares that "Repentance, Prayer and Charity remove the evil decree." In many editions of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur machzor (holiday prayer book), these words are crowned in smaller type with the words [respectively] fast, voice, money to suggest that repentance includes fasting, prayer recited in a loud voice, and donations to charity.[6] As fasting cannot be done on Rosh Hashanah, and money cannot be handled on either of the holidays, these practices are often performed during the Ten Days of Repentance, between the holidays.



A number of changes are made to the daily prayers in this period (besides the additional changes made on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur):

  1. The conclusions of two blessings in the Amidah prayer are modified to emphasize the theme of Divine kingship. In the third blessing, "the Holy God" is replaced with "the Holy King". In the eighth blessing, "King who loves righteousness and judgment" is replaced with "the King of Judgment" (lit. "the King, the Judgment").[7]
  2. Additional insertions are customarily made in the first two and last two blessings of the Amidah. In the first (after "for the sake of His Name in love"): "Remember us for life, King who delights in life; and inscribe us in the book of life, for Your sake, living God"; in the second (after "make salvation to grow"): "Who is like You, merciful Father, remembering His creatures in mercy for life"; in the second-to-last, near the end: "And inscribe for life all the sons of Your covenant"; in the last: "May we be remembered and inscribed before You in the book of life, of blessing, of peace, and of good sustenance."[8] In the final service of Yom Kippur (Neilah), "seal" is said instead of "inscribe". In the Ashkenazi Jews' ritual, at the close of the last benediction, the words "who blesseth his people Israel with peace" are shortened into "the Maker of Peace."
  3. The prayer entitled "Avinu Malkeinu" (Our Father, our King) is said in the morning and afternoon services. In the Ashkenazic rite, it is omitted on Shabbat, Friday afternoon, and the 9th of Tishrei (which is a sort of semi-holy day, and on which tachanun is also omitted), while some non-Ashkenazic communities recite it even on Shabbat.[9]
  4. On weekdays Selichot are recited, either at night after midnight, or before the morning prayer. The poetical pieces, at least in the Ashkenazi ritual, differ for each of the days. In the Eastern Ashkenazic rite, those for Erev Yom Kippur are the fewest and shortest, whereas in the Western Ashkenazic rite they are the longest.[9] Indeed, the recitation of Selichot begins before the Ten Days of Repentance; in the Ashkenazic tradition, they begin after the Sabbath immediately proceeding Rosh Hashanah (or on the Sabbath before that if Rosh Hashanah falls on a Monday or Tuesday), and in the Sephardic tradition they begin immediately after Rosh Chodesh Elul.[10]



There is an old custom to fast all weekdays of the Ten Days of Repentance[11] (except for the eve of Yom Kippur when fasting is forbidden)[12] and there were those who had the custom to fast during the day on Rosh Hashanah.[13] Nevertheless, the common custom today is to fast only on Fast of Gedalia (from dawn to dusk) and for the full day of Yom Kippur.

Additional customs


During these days some are stricter and eat only baked goods produced with a Jew involved in the baking process (a practice known as Pat Yisrael), even though during the year they eat any baked goods made from kosher ingredients (known as pat paltar). If while traveling it is not possible to obtain Pat Yisrael, then being stricter is not a requirement.[14]

There are conflicting customs whether weddings should be held during the weekdays of the Ten Days: some Orthodox Jews avoid holding weddings during this more serious period, while other Orthodox Jews as well as non-Orthodox Jews may do so.[15]

Some Jews and communities perform the Kapparot custom, typically on the day before Yom Kippur.


  1. ^ a b c "The "Aseret Yemai Teshuvah," Ten Days of Repentance: In "Halachah," Jewish Law and "Machashavah," Jewish Thought". Orthodox Union. Archived from the original on 2012-01-26. Retrieved September 22, 2009.
  2. ^ Rosh HaShanah 18a
  3. ^ Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance, 2:6
  4. ^ Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance, 3:4
  5. ^ Ramban, Leviticus 23:1
  6. ^ The Complete ArtScroll Machzor: Yom Kippur: Mussaf for Yom Kippur, p. 533
  7. ^ Talmud (Berakhot 12b
  8. ^ Soferim (19:8)
  9. ^ a b   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainCyrus Adler and Lewis N. Dembitz (1901–1906). "Penitential Days". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
  10. ^ Shulchan Aruch OC 581:1
  11. ^ Rama OC 581:2.
  12. ^ Shulchan Aruch OC 604:1.
  13. ^ Shulchan Aruch OC 597.
  14. ^ "The Traveler's Companion: Aseres Yemei Teshuvah". Chabad. Retrieved September 22, 2009.
  15. ^ לחתונה בעשרת ימי תשובה