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Why are there times during Yom Kippur services when we beat our chests?

On Yom Kippur, it is customary to (lightly) hit our hearts with a fist every time we recite the sins during the Vidui and Al Chet prayers.

Why? Our hearts are said to be responsible for our emotions and, more importantly, what we do with our emotions. Often, when we misstep, it's because we are not channeling our emotions in a proper way, leading us to disrespect others and ourselves.

And since Jewish prayer is communal, by doing this in full view of the congregation, we are setting an example to others around us to show proper humility during this sacred time.

"The entire world is a very narrow bridge - the key is to not be afraid." -Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav

Mon, October 21 2019 22 Tishrei 5780