I understand the reason why people wear a kittel (a white "coat") or white clothing on Yom Kippur, and why some people wear it on Rosh Hashanna as well. The common two reasons I have seen are that such clothes represents either angles or it is the shroud used to clothe the dead.

But, why do many shuls dress the Torah covers, parochet (ark curtain) and the Torah and chazzan "tables" in white as well? These are objects, so I can't see how this would be related to the same reasoning of angel or dead's clothes?

  • 2
    אם יהיו חטאיכם כשני כשלג ילבינו
    – kouty
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 16:17
  • @kouty Seems you are exactly correct. See the end of my answer.
    – DanF
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 16:20

1 Answer 1


O.C. 610:4 says that it has become a common minhag to place "pleasant" coverings in shul (he doesn't specify a color, though) on Yom Kippur.

Mishnah Berurah commentary #9 says that in explaining Isaiah 58 that says "For the holiness of G-d's honored" that this is specifically a reference to Yom Kippur. Since the verse mentions "Shabbat", we usually honor Shabbat by eating and drinking. However, as we cannot do this on Yom Kippur, we instead honor the day by covering the tables in clean cloths. (I assume that the term "clean" is synonymous with white, however, I guess one could, technically use any color that looks "clean".)

This site mentions:

As far as I know, the first to mention these customs is R. Ephraim Zalman Margaliot (Sha’arei Efrayim, Galicia, d. 1820), who also provides the most detailed description of these customs:

The ritual objects — ark curtain, Torah mantles and table covers — should be beautiful and splendid, to honor and glorify the Torah. It is customary to make these in many different colors.

In honor of the High Holy Days, white ark curtains, Torah mantles and table covers should be designated, for these are the days of judgment, as is written (Isaiah 1: 18): “If your sins be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow”. It was the custom to hang a white ark curtain and cover the Torah scrolls used for the day’s reading in white mantles.

  • It is important to note that the above website is of Masorti (or Conservative) denomination, which is contrary to Orthodox Judaism.
    – user17319
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 0:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .