Important Note: Those who suffer from chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and the like, should already seek the guidance of a G-d-fearing doctor and then consult with an expert halachic authority regarding how to prepare for Yom Kippur in terms of fasting since many times, due to proper preparation, it will be possible to fast on Yom Kippur in a healthy manner.
The Ten Days
Rabbeinu Chaim Vital writes in the name of his teacher, the saintly Ari z”l, that the seven days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur correspond to the seven days of the week during the course of the year and during every one of these seven days, one should have in mind to rectify that which one has sinned on that specific day throughout the previous year. For instance, today, Wednesday, one should have in mind to rectify all of one’s wrongdoings throughout the various Wednesdays of the year.
The Laws of the Bread of Non-Jews During the Rest of the Year
There are certain things which our Sages prohibited even though these things are not necessarily prohibited by Torah law, for instance, the bread of non-Jews. Although in the times of our Sages there was no actual concern regarding the bread of non-Jews since non-Jews would not mix any forbidden ingredients into their dough, nevertheless, our Sages (see Masechet Avodah Zara 36b) prohibited eating the bread of non-Jews in order to prevent the Jewish nation from mingling too much with the other nations, which could eventually lead to intermarriage.
Nonetheless, the Poskim write that this specific edict did not spread to all places and because certain places had no other choice and bread is a most important staple, these places customarily acted leniently and ate bread baked by non-Jews; these communities had never accepted the decree forbidding the consumption of non-Jewish bread. (Clearly, in a place where there is concern that forbidden ingredients are mixed into the dough or if the flour is not sifted and the like, it is halachically prohibited to consume such bread. Even in a place where there is no such concern, one may only act leniently under certain conditions, such as that the bread must be baked by a baker who regularly sells bread along with several additional details which we cannot discuss now at length.)
Non-Jewish Bread During the Ten Days of Repentance
Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch writes in the laws of the Ten Days of Repentance (Chapter 603) that even one who does not refrain from consuming bread of non-Jews during the rest of the year, for he relies on those who behave leniently regarding this law, nevertheless, during the Ten Days of Repentance, one must take care to refrain from eating such bread. The reason for this is because during these days, one must be especially cautious of sin; even if there is room for leniency in a certain matter, one must act stringently and refrain from doing so. This applies even if there is room for actual leniency; this is especially true if the matter involves a doubtful prohibition for which one must be careful of all year round and certainly during these days.
Therefore, let us bring up a very important issue which is especially applicable for these days. It is well-known that a vast majority of the Poskim are of the opinion that it is absolutely forbidden for a woman to go out into a public domain when her hair is covered with a wig. Indeed, Hagaon Harav Pinchas Ha’Levi Ish Horowitz (author of Sefer Hafla’a and a teacher of Hagaon Chatam Sofer) and his Bet Din decreed an excommunication on any woman who went out into a public domain wearing a wig. Maran zt”l would likewise constantly warn the public about this matter and ruled that there is no room for leniency whatsoever.
Thus, those women who wear wigs in any case should accept upon themselves to refrain from doing so at least during these Ten Days of Repentance; even if they do not have in mind to continue with this resolution forever, it is certainly better than nothing, similar to what Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch writes regarding non-Jewish bread.
Likewise, a man who is truly G-d-fearing and knows that his wife walks around in the street wearing a wig should try and gently convince her to refrain from doing so at least during these days of forgiveness, atonement, and judgment. Along with this, it is preferable for the woman to accept upon herself to minimize her wig-wearing as much as possible and only wear it sparingly.
The same applies to all other prohibitions about which people are not so careful with during the rest of the year in that one should be cautious regarding these matters at least during this period. One should therefore exercise great care regarding Kashrut of food, speaking idle-chat in the synagogue, and the like during these days. May Hashem see the effort we put forth in these matters during these days and be filled with great mercy and compassion and inscribe us all in the Book of Life and Peace.