Originally a red thread was tied to the outside of the door of the Ulam on Yom Kippur. If the thread went white, it symbolised that the people’s sins had been forgiven and vice versa. Later the thread was tied to the inside of the door.

The gemoro Yoma 67a states that Chachomim stopped tying the red thread there in case people would see inside and be upset and ashamed if it had not turned white.

My question is what would be so bad if they were upset and ashamed? If their sins were not forgiven, surely the appropriate reaction is to be distressed?

A possible answer might be that since depression, upset or sadness is such a negative emotion it is better that the people do not know whether or not they have been forgiven. Is there any support for this idea or a better one?

  • the ben yehoyada asks your question exactly. look it up.
    – user3246
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 18:09
  • @pesachwolicki Thank you for helping on this! A more precise citation would be more useful (and even can be a good answer if you explain it.) Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


Obviously, they would have done teshuvah anyway, because the halachah is not like R' Yehudah that Yom Kipur atones even without teshuvah (I would appreciate if anyone would give the source for that). Therefore, there was no concern of them not doing teshuvah because of not seeing that their sins weren't forgiven.

A possible reason why he might not want them to know is because it would cause them to feel as if they are resha'im. Apart from this being forbidden (Avos 2:13), it might cause them to either become sad and unable to properly serve G-d, or if it doesn't lead to that, it will lead to lightheartedness (Tanya ch. 1).

  • The source for R Yehuda or the source that we don't hold like that?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 21:02
  • @DoubleAA The source for R' Yehudah; it's obvious we don't hold like him because single vs. many, the halachah is like the many.
    – b a
    Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 21:03
  • @ba the Machlokes continued into the times of the Amoraim. See Kerisus in the gemara towards the end of the first mishna. (can't remember the blatt of the top of my head). Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 21:07
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    Yoma 85b. There can always be exceptions, particularly in this case where it is Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi who is very often the final word lehalacha.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 21:07

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