Eating on Erev Yom Kippur:
A. The Mitzvah to eat:
It is a (Rabbinical) Mitzvah and obligation based on scripture, to eat and drink on Erev Yom Kippur in preparation for the Yom Kippur fast. By eating on Erev Yom Kippur Hashem rewards us as if we had fasted that day. [Eating on Erev Yom Kippur also fulfills various Tikkunim, as explained in Kabalah. One is to diminish in learning Torah on Erev Yom Kippur in order to eat and drink.] It goes without saying that it is forbidden to fast on Erev Yom Kippur. One who mistakenly fasted on Erev Yom Kippur for the entire day needs to fast one day after Yom Kippur as an attonement for the fact he fasted on Erev Yom Kippur.
How many meals must one eat? One is only required to eat one meal on Erev Yom Kippur. This meal may be eaten even towards the end of the day for one to fulfill his obligation of eating and drinking, and for it to not be considered as if he fasted. Despite the above minimal requirement, on Erev Yom Kippur one is to [initially] increase in food and drink to the amount that he would normally consume in two days, on behalf of both Erev Yom Kippur and Yom Kippur. [It is thus customary to wash on bread and eat a meal in the morning for breakfast in addition to the Seudas Hamafsekes which is eaten right before the fast.]
Fasting a Taanis Chalom: It is forbidden to fast on Erev Yom Kippur even for a Taanis Chalom. Furthermore, through eating and drinking on Erev Yom Kippur it is considered as if one fasted a Taanis Chalom. Nonetheless, if one desires to fast a Taanis Chalom until the Seudas Hamafsekes, he is not to be protested.
It is a Mitzvah and obligation to eat on Erev Yom Kippur. One should eat and drink the amount of food and drink that he would normally consume in two days on behalf of both Erev Yom Kippur and Yom Kippur. It is thus customary to wash on bread and eat a meal in the morning for breakfast in addition to the Seudas Hamafsekes which is eaten right before the fast.
Why isn’t a blessing recited over the Mitzvah of eating on Erev Yom Kippur?
Some Poskim explain that blessings were only instituted to be said over an action that is recognizably done for religious purposes, as opposed to one’s own benefit. Hence, the blessing of a Mitzvah is never recited over the general eating of food [unless it is a specific food commanded to be eaten, such as Matzah]. Others suggest the reason is because the entire purpose of eating on Erev Yom Kippur is to be able to fast on Yom Kippur and since one may need to Halachically break his fast, therefore a blessing may not be said.
Are women obligated to eat [extra] on Erev Yom Kippur?
This matter is discussed in Poskim with regards to whether the Mitzvah to eat on Erev Yom Kippur is a Zman Gerama command of which women are exempt. Although some Poskim remain in doubt, the majority of Poskim conclude that women are obligated to eat on Erev Yom Kippur just like men.
Are people who are not fasting on Yom Kippur for health reasons still obligated to eat on Erev Yom Kippur?
The Poskim debate this matter, although practically, even such a person is to eat on Erev Yom Kippur.
Does the Mitzvah to eat on Erev Yom Kippur apply also on the night of Erev Yom Kippur?
Is there a Mitzvah and obligation to drink on Erev Yom Kippur?
Is every piece of food one eats considered a Mitzvah?
Some write that every piece of food one eats on Erev Yom Kippur considered a Mitzvah. Some Gedolei Yisrael were accustomed to snack on foods throughout the entire day due to this reason.
Sparks of Chassidus
Has revelation similar to Purim:
Eating on Erev Yom Kippur indicates a certain level of elevation which is compared even to Yom Kippur itself. This is similar to the advantage of Purim over Yom Kippur in which it is explained in Chassidus that the eating and drinking on Purim is equivalent to fasting on Yom Kippur. This demonstrates the loftiness of the spiritual level that we draw from, since its influence reaches the supremely low level of physical eating.
The manner of eating of Reb Levi Yitzchak Schneerson on Erev Yom Kippur:
It was the custom of Reb Levi Yitzchak Schneerson to generally eat with only one hand. On Erev Yom Kippur he would eat with two hands to emphasize the importance of eating on this day.
B. The Erev Yom Kippur Menu-Foods to be eaten; Foods to be avoided:
Fish: One should eat fish by the breakfast meal. Regarding if one may eat fish by the Seudas Hamafsekes-see Halacha 12.
Honey: During the Erev Yom Kippur meals one is to dip the bread in honey.
May one eat hard boiled eggs on Erev Yom Kippur?
May one eat Tehina dip or Halva on Erev Yom Kippur?
One is not to eat Techina or Halva on Erev Yom Kippur as they are made from sesame seeds which are avoided on Erev Yom Kippur.
May one eat hot dairy products?
Some Poskim rule one is to avoid eating hot dairy products throughout the day of Erev Yom Kippur.
May one drink coffee or tea with milk?
Yes. This applies even according to those Poskim who are stringent regarding hot dairy throughout the day of Erev Yom Kippur.
Are women to avoid eating the above-mentioned foods?
Women are not required to avoid eating dairy, garlic or eggs. They are however to avoid eating sesame and animal meat, as their reason of avoidance is applicable equally to women.
Some are accustomed to say Hamotzi on Lechem Mishneh of bread by the Erev Yom Kippur meal, just as is done on a Yom Tov.
Eating fish on Erev Yom Kippur
The Poskim write that it is a Mitzvah to eat fish on Erev Yom Kippur. The Tur brings a story from the Midrash of a certain tailor who outbid the chief of police over the purchase of a fish on Erev Yom Kippur. Upon being questioned by the chief of police, the tailor answered, “How can I avoid purchasing the fish on a day that Hashem commanded us to eat and drink out of faith that He will grant us atonement.” The police chief was satisfied with the answer and let him go.
C. The Final Meal-Seudas Hamafsekes
See Halacha 12!
D. Receiving Lekach:
It is a customary to receive Lekach [honey cake] on Erev Yom Kippur. The Rebbe would distribute Lekach and wish the receiver a Gemar Chasima Tovah. One should request the Lekach from the distributer and then eat it.
 Admur 604/1; Michaber 604/1; Yuma 81b
Background of Mitzvah to eat:
The verse [Vayikra 23/32] states “You shall oppress your souls on the 9th of the month”. Now, is it on the 9th that we fast? Don’t we only fast on the tenth and not on the 9th, as the verse [Vayikra 16/29] states “On the 10th of the month you shall oppress your soul” and it says [Vayikra 23/32] “from evening to evening”, which means that the fast only extends for one full day. So what is the meaning of the above verse that states we are to fast on the 9th? [The Sages [see 608/1] taught that this verse means as follows:] The verse is telling the Jewish people to prepare themselves on the 9th for the fast of Yom Kippur which is on the 10th; that one is to eat and drink on the 9th so he is able to fast on the 10th. This was done out of Hashem’s great love for the Jewish people that He only commanded us to fast one day out of the year, and even this is for our benefit so that our sins are atoned, and He commanded us that we eat and drink beforehand in order so the fast does not damage our bodies. It however remains to be understood why the verse calls this eating of the 9th as “an oppression of the soul”? Why didn’t the verse simply state that one is to eat and drink on the 9th? The reason for this is because the verse is telling us that one who eats and drinks on the 9th is considered as if he fasted that day due to the command of Hashem who told us to fast on that day. This means as follows: In normal circumstances, the reward for fulfilling a Mitzvah of eating and drinking due to Hashem’s command is not the same as the reward given for fasting due to Hashem’s command [as fasting is a lot more difficult]. The novelty of the eating and drinking on Erev Yom Kippur is that the reward is so great that it is as if he is being rewarded for having fasted (on both the 9th and 10th) due to Hashem’s command to fast (on both days). [The Alter Rebbe then concludes as follows:] Since on Yom Kippur itself we cannot honor it through eating and drinking as is done on every other Yom Tov, out of respect for the Yom Tov, therefore, one is required to respect it on the day before, [and thus we eat on Erev Yom Kippur to make up the Mitzvah of Kavod and Oneg Yom Tov which cannot be fulfilled on Yom Kippur]. [Admur ibid; Vetzaruch Iyun as to how this later reason connects to the previous reason?]
 Admur 608/1 [parentheses in original]; Michaber 570/3; Beis Yosef, brought in M”A 570/8; based on 1st opinion in Yuma ibid
Background and ruling of Admur in 604/1: Although from above [604/1] it is implied that the above obligation to eat on Erev Yom Kippur is Biblical, in 608/1 Admur clarifies that in truth it is Rabbinical, as the verse of “Oppress yourselves on the 9th of the month from evening to evening” from a Biblical perspective is really to be taken literal and is teaching us the obligation to add Mechol Al Hakodesh; that one should fast a little also on the 9th of Tishreiy, prior to the start of Yom Kippur. It is the Sages [and not the Torah] who commanded one to increase in eating on Erev Yom Kippur due to the reasons explained above. The Sages found support for their ruling based on an alternative explanation of the above verse, and interpreted that the verse can be understood to teach that one is to prepare for the opression of the 10th through eating on the 9th. Nevertheless, this expounding is merely of Rabbinical origin, as the simple Biblical meaning of the verse carries the previous connotation explained above. [Admur 608/1; This follows the dissenting opinion mentioned in Magen Avraham 570/8 that the Mitzvah is only Rabbinical and is based on the first opinion in Yuma ibid which reserves the verse for the above ruling of Mosifin Mechol Al Hakodesh. Vetzaruch Iyun as the wording in 604/1 strongly implies that it is a Biblical command to eat, as rules the M”A ibid. To note that the above ruling in 608/1 is written in parentheses, of which it is known that Admur planned to review in case it needed correction.]
Other Poskim: Some Poskim rule it is a Biblical command to eat on Erev Yom Kippur. [Michaber ibid in name of Rambam; Magen Avraham 570/9; Beir Heiytiv 570/7; Mishneh Berurah 604/1; based on 2nd opinion in Yuma ibid which learns the Mitzvah of Tosefes Kedusha from a different verse, and hence reserves the verse of “and on the 9th” for the above Biblical teaching of eating on Erev Yom Kippur. Thus, in conclusion, the dispute of whether eating on Erev Yom Kippur is Biblical or Rabbinical is based on the two opinions in Yuma ibid]
 Admur 604/1; Michaber ibid
The reason: We are commanded eat and drink before Yom Kippur in order so the fast does not damage our bodies. Also, since on Yom Kippur itself we cannot honor it through eating and drinking as is done on every other Yom Tov, out of respect for the Yom Tov, therefore one is required to respect it on the day before. [Admur ibid; See background]
 Admur ibid; Yuma ibid; See background
 Peri Eitz Chaim Shaar Yom Kippur 27; Kaf Hachaim 604/2
 M”A 604/1; M”B 604/1; Brachos 8a
 Admur 604/2
 Admur 604/1-2; Thus if one fasted until the Seudas Hamafsekes he does not need to fast after Yom Kippur to make up for this forbidden fast. [604/2]
 Siddur Admur; Peri Eitz Chaim Shaar Yom Kippur 27; Mishnas Chassidim Yimei Teshuvah 4/2; Tur and Michaber 604/1 “It is customary to increase in food on Erev Yom Kippur”; So also writes Admur in 608/1 “It is the Sages who commanded one to increase in eating on Erev Yom Kippur”, however in 604/1 Admur does not make mention of increasing in eating.
Is the above statement literal? The above statement implies that one is to literally eat the amount of food he normally eats within two days. However, the Ashel Avraham [Butchach] 605 rules that it is only necessary to eat slightly more than one days worth of food, as upon eating even part of the second day meal it is considered is like a full day meal.
 Peri Eitz Chaim Shaar Yom Kippur 27; Kaf Hachaim 604/2; Nitei Gavriel 15/13; See regarding eating fish by breakfast: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 131/3; Mateh Efraim 604/18; Tur in name of Midrash [brought in Q&A]
 Admur 604/1; Rama 604/1; Regarding one who made a vow to fast on Erev Yom Kippur-see Michaber 570/1 [604/3]
 Although it is permitted to fast a Taanis Chalom even on Shabbos and Yom Tov [see 288/3] nevertheless on Erev Yom Kippur when eating is considered an oppression, as explained above in background, one is not to fast on this day. [ibid]
 The reason: As the eating on Erev Yom Kippur is considered an oppression as is fasting, and hence they have the same status. [ibid]
 The reason: As Erev Yom Kippur is not considered similar to Shabbos. Regarding Shabbos the verse states “Vekarasa Leshabbos Oneg” from which we learn that it is forbidden to fast on it for even one hour for the sake of a fast with exception to a Taanis Chalom. [see 288] However regarding Yom Kippur the verse does not call it a day of Oneg, and it is rather simply a Mitzvah to eat on the day, and hence so long as one eats even one time he fulfills this Mitzvah. [ibid]
 Sdei Chemed Yom Kippur 1/3
 Emek Sheila 167/2 brought in Sdei Chemed Mareches Brachos Asifas Dinim 1/16
 See Rav Akiva Eiger 1/16; Rashash Sukkah 28a; Kesav Sofer 112; Chochmas Sholmo 604; Minchas Chinuch 313; Sdei Chemed Yom Kippur 1/5; Nitei Gavriel 15/7 footnote 11
 Rav Akiva Eiger 1/16; Rashash Sukkah 28a
 Kesav Sofer 112; Chochmas Sholmo 604; Minchas Chinuch 313; Sdei Chemed Yom Kippur 1/5; Nitei Gavriel 15/7 footnote 11
 See Sdei Chemed Yom Kippur 1/3; Nitei Gavriel 15/8
 The Sdei Chemed discusses this matter and depends this on whether the obligation to eat on Erev Yom Kippur is a Gizeiras Hakasuv, in which case the above person would also be included within the obligation, or if it’s in order to prepare for the fast in which case it would not include those that do not need to fast. Nonetheless, even if the latter is correct, perhaps Hashem will send the person a cure before Yom Kippur and he will oince again be obligated to fast. Thus, practically one is to be stringent.
 Shlah Miseches Yuma; Sefer Hachaim 604; Ashel Avraham of Butchach 604; See Nitei Gavriel 15/3
 See Admur 604/1 and M”A 604/1 that one may fats until the Seudas Hamafsekes; Gra; Yad Efraim; Nitei Gavriel 15/2 footnote 5; To note however that the fact Admur rules that there is no need to eat more than one meal on Erev Yom Kippur and one is thus allowed to fast until the Seudas Hamafsekes, does not necessarily negate the idea that if one were to eat a meal at night he is fulfilling the Mitzvah. Vetzaruch Iyun.
 Admur 604/1 constantly mentions “eat and drink” in the Mitzvah of eating Erev Yom Kippur; See also M”A 604/1 “in order to eat and drink”; M”B 604/1
 See Piskeiy Teshuvos 604/2
 Likkutei Sichos vol. 24 p. 572
 Sichas Erev Yom Kippur 5745
 Admur 608/8
 Admur ibid
 M”B 608/16 in name of Peri Megadim; M”E 604/18 “one who is able should eat chicken and not meat”; and so is implied from Admur ibid who states specifically fish and chicken.
Other opinions: Some Poskim write one is specifically to eat animal meat in the morning and it is a Mitzvah to do so. [Yeshuos Yaakov 608/2]
 The reason: The reason for this is in order so one not become satiated and [thus become] haughty during his Erev Yom Kippur prayer. [Admur ibid]
 Admur ibid
 See Q&A!
 The reason: As eggs and garlic increase one’s seed and since relations are forbidden on Yom Kippur therefore these foods are to be avoided. [Admur ibid]
 Admur 608/10
 See Q&A!
 The reason: Sesame seeds are avoided since they cause one to regurgitate on Yom Kippur. [ibid]
 Admur ibid; Rama 608/4
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that only hot dairy is to be avoided. [M”A 608/6; Mateh Efraim 604/18] This matter is omitted by Admur.
 The reason: Although dairy products have ability to increase seed, nevertheless, since they are easily digested, they are accustomed to be eaten. [Admur ibid]
Other opinions: Some Poskim writes that the custom is to eat meat for the morning meal and that all hot dairy is to be avoided. [Mateh Efraim 604/18]
 See Q&A!
 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 131/3; Mateh Efraim 604/18; Tur in name of Midrash [brought in Q&A]
 Mamarei Admur Hazakein Inyanim p. 180; Sefer Haminhagim p.123 [English]; Taameiy Haminhagim 736
 The reason: Meat represents severities while dough represents kindness. The meat stuffed pastry thus represents the overcoming of kindness over severity thus sweetening the severities. [Taameiy Haminhagim 736] Alternatively, on Shavuot, the time of the giving of the Torah, the two loaves are offered upon two lambs, with the bread being above and below the flesh. Thus, on Erev Yom Kippur which celebrates the giving of the second Luchos which occurred on Yom Kippur, we also eat food that contains dough on top and bottom and meat inside. [Mamarei Admur Hazakein Inyanim p. 180]
 Likkutei Sichos 14 p. 372
 Alef Hamagen 604/49 in name of Poskim; Admur however does not make any distinction
 The reason: The above statement to avoid eggs applies only to scrambled, sunny side up or soft-boiled eggs. However hard-boiled eggs do not need to be avoided being that they do not increase seed. [ibid]
 Mateh Efraim 604/18; Admur omits that one needs to refrain from warm dairy; See M”A 608/6
 P”M 608 A”A 6; Mateh Efraim 604/18
 Pashut as the reason for its abstinence is not relevant to women. See Nitei Gavriel 16/16
 Shlah brought in Alef Hamagen 604/42; Yifei Laleiv 2/3; Kaf Hachaim 604/2
 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 131/3; Mateh Efraim 604/18
 Sefer Haminhagim p. 123 [English]