Suppose one were to insulate food on Erev YK. Clearly, his intention would not be to eat the food on Yom Kippur; rather to eat it after Yom Kippur. Should the halacha be any different from that of ‘hatmana’ on Erev Shabbos for use on Shabbos? One would think not, and that, indeed, is the ruling of the Mechaber (Rav Yosef Karo, author of Shulchan Aruch), who permits ‘hatmana’ on Erev YK. However, the Rama (Rav Moshe Isserles, final posek of Ashkenazic Jews) rules stringently, as he differentiates between hatmana on Erev Shabbos for Shabbos and hatmana on Erev YK for motzei YK, for the following reason: Although technically, the person has not done an iota of melacha on YK (because the hatmana was set up before YK), the appearance is that he is doing melacha on YK for after YK – a ‘yom chol’ / weekday - which is a diminution of YK. This is different from ‘hatmana’ done on Erev Shabbos for Shabbos, because at least the melacha is serving a ‘yom kodesh’ (a holy day). See the point?!
Note: It is interesting that another reason is offered by the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (131:13) for the stringent ruling of the Rama to forbid hatmana on Erev YK for after YK: “In addition, doing so has the appearance of gluttony.” (Footnote #52 in the Artscroll edition: “Preparing the food so far in advance can give the impression that one’s primary focus is the meal after the fast.” Ed. Now, isn’t that something we can “take home”…)
MBY 610:1-4 Hadlakas Neiros on Erev YK (abridged) Excerpted from Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Metzudah Edition) Siman 131 “Laws of Erev Yom Kippur”, pp. 317-324 Ed. As we will learn in this lesson, there seems to be a special association on Yom Kippur with candlelight. Let us learn about several customs mentioned in the halacha – some which are required and others which were once customary but not widely practiced today.
14) It is written (Isaiah 58:13): “The holy day of Hashem should be honored”, and the Sages explain that this refers to Yom Kippur, for on that day there is no eating or drinking. It is a mitzvah to honor this day with clean clothes and with candlelight. Therefore in the synagogue we spread beautiful covers and light many candles, which are called “honor”, as it is said, “Honor Hashem ‘b’Urim’”, and the Targum translates it, “Honor Hashem with lights.” Before twilight, the tables should be covered with cloths, and candles should be lit in the house, as on Erev Shabbos. Over the candles, the bracha ‘Baruch… lehadlik ner shel Yom haKippurim’ / “… to kindle the light of YK” is said. If YK occurs on Shabbos (like this year, 5775!), the bracha ‘…lehadlik ner shel Shabbos v’Yom haKippurim’ / “… to kindle the light of Shabbos and YK” is said. (Note: The bracha ‘Baruch… Shehecheyanu…’ should be said as well.)
7) It is the custom that every head of the household prepares a candle for his house, as a reminder that on YK Moshe came down from Mount Sinai with the Second Tablets of the Torah, and the Torah is called “light”; and he prepares another candle for the soul of his deceased father and mother, to make atonement for them. (Footnote #8a: For the deceased are also judged in this period and thus require atonement!) It is customary that one candle is lit in the house to burn until the close of YK, and Havdalah is said over it (Ed. This one is required!) and one candle is lit in the synagogue. (Footnote #36 from the Artscroll edition of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch: This custom – of each person lighting a candle in the synagogue – is not commonly practiced today.)
14) A candle should be lit in the bedroom to prevent the occurrence of marital relations. (Footnote #55 from the Artscroll edition: “It is prohibited to engage in marital relations on YK. A light burning in the room will remind him that it is forbidden. Footnote #16 - Metsudah edition: Magen Avraham justifies the custom of many who do not light candles in the bedroom…)
Now, on to other things… 15) It is the custom to put on a ‘kitel’ (white robe) which is the garment of the dead. The wearing of such a garment causes the heart of a man to be subdued and broken. (Footnote #59 from the Artscroll edition: “Rabbi Moshe Feinstein writes… that today we are generally not sensitive to the message of mortality in the kitel, and the primary reason for wearing it is to appear as angels, which is a joyous concept. Ed. Rav Feinstein writes this in explanation of his opinion that it is inappropriate for a mourner – during the 30-day period for any close relative or during the 12 months for a parent – to wear the kitel.) … Women too, should wear clean, white clothes in honor of the day; but they should not wear jewelry because of the awe of judgment.
16) It is customary for the father and mother to bless their sons and daughters before going to the synagogue, because the holiness of the day has already begun, and the Gates of Compassion are already open. They implore in this blessing that the children should be sealed for good life, and that their hearts should be steadfast in the fear of G-d… The children will also be inspired and resolve to walk in the ways of the righteous and follow the path of the just… (Ed. This is a beautiful custom. I get choked up when I recite this bracha to my children – and they know it! Please see the text and translation of the blessing near the beginning of your YK machzor.)