Wednesday evening begins the two days of Rosh Chodesh for the month of Kislev. The day before Rosh Chodesh is Yom Kippur Katan. What is Yom Kippur Katan and how can we make the most of it?
The day before each Rosh Chodesh (beginning of the month) is referred to as 'Yom Kippur Katan," the "Little Yom Kippur." R' Gedalya Schorr, in explaining why this is the case, first discusses the purpose of Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur, simply stated, is a day for one to take an accounting of what he or she has accomplished or failed to do. It is time for people to inspire themselves, to arouse within their heart and soul a desire to accomplish more, to strive for greatness.There are two approaches that can be taken when it comes to self-motivation. One approach is to focus on that which we are lacking. "Why can't I control my anger, why can't I control my evil inclination, etc.?" By accenting our faults, we realize how far we have fallen, and how great the need is to get back on the right track. Another approach is to focus on our aspirations and goals. Our Sages wrote that everyone is required to ask themselves "When will my deeds reach the (level of the) deeds of my forefathers?" A person must realize that he has it within himself to achieve greatness, and that greatness is indeed within reach. Read More
Rosh Chodesh reminds us of what man could and should have been. It is a time of atonement because its message of renewal summons Israel to renew itself, to return to its roots and shed the blandishments of the material world. Because of this, the nation’s spiritual leaders ordained that the day before Rosh Chodesh should be a day of repentance and atonement – a miniature Yom Kippur. In earlier times, when Jews were closer to God, one Yom Kippur a year was enough, perhaps, but as the years went by and the exile chipped away at our spiritual awareness, the genius of our religious leaders asserted itself and they prefaced the monthly day of renewal with a day of reflection, prayer, and repentance. This is Yom Kippur Katan, a day when we can help bring the moon back to its original state by becoming worthy of Redemption and God’s Presence. (Rabbi Nosson Scherman, The Arstscroll Yom Kippur Katan Service)
Tehilla Diamond writes about participating in her first Yom Kippur Katan service in Bnei Brak in a blog post entitled Yom Kippur Katan, No Small Endeavor.
For a more in depth look at Yom Kippur Katan.