Q. I daven in a shul that is frequented by baalei teshuva, and I have seen some very weird practices and customs that some adopted. Is it correct to place little stones or gravel on one’s tennis shoes on Yom Kippur and walk around in pain with them for penitence? I have seen a few stand the whole day in their place without going to sleep or even moving, is that allowed?
A. On question 1459 regarding if there is a mitzva of simcha on Yom Kippur we wrote: “Talmud (Taanis 30b) teaches that there were no greater Yomim Tovim than Yom Kipur’ since it was a day of forgiveness and redemption. Rabbenu Yonah (Shaarei Teshuva 4: 8) mentions that the seudos (feasts) one celebrates on Erev Yom Kippur, are related to seudos of Yom Tov, See Sichos Rav Sh. D. Pincus (p. 287). He also mentions (p. 339) that since it is also the day of the giving of the Torah, (2nd. Luchos) it became ‘Beyom Simchas Libo,’ Yom Kipur is also included on the two Torah chapters of the moadim and is included in the hekesh comparison that unites them all.
The issue appears to hinge on a dispute among the tanna’im in the mishna in Moed Katan (19a) as to whether or not Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur cancel aveilus.  As we accept Rabban Gamliel’s ruling, that “Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are like the Shalosh Regalim with respect to aveilus, we may deduce that according to Halacha, the simcha obligation indeed applies on Yom Kipur too.
If someone mistakenly recited the brocho of ‘Lehadlik ner shel YomTov’ on Yom Kipur candle lightning instead of ‘Ner shel Yom Hakipurum,’ Poskim maintain that after the fact he complies and he does not have to repeat the brocho. (Maharam Brisk 2: 44, Kovetz Sifsei Chachomim, Hisorerus Teshuva 122, Nitei Gavriel 25: 6. See also Kovetz Halochos 28: 2)
However, Maseches Sofrim (19: 6) maintains that we do not mention (on the tefilos) on Yom Kippur that it is a Yom Tov, Moed or simcha, since there is no simcha without eating.
Similarly,Mateh Efraim (582: 2) opines that when Yom Kippur coincides with Shabbos, we recite; ‘Boyi beshalom’ betzahala, and omit besimcha.
As we mentioned in regards to Rosh Hashana (Q. 1437 and 1438) the shalmei simcha offerings are not brought, and there is no requirement to partake of the sacrificial meat of shelamim; and on Yom Kippur we fast.
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is that there is a mitzva of simcha on Yom Kippur, but different than on the other Yomim Tovim.”
Besides the mitzva of simcha, Mishna Berura (610: 9) quotes that one must honor Yom Kippur by wearing clean clothing and lighting candles. Talmud (Yuma 74b) teaches that although, the Torah instructed us that on Yom Kippur we must afflict our souls, should we then seat by the heat of the sun or outside in the cold to torment ourselves? That is why the Torah added: No melacha or work should be done. Just like that is a negative prohibition of refraining from work, similarly the affliction ordained is only in abstaining from food and drink etc. and not in active torture and distress.
Piskei Teshuvos (610: 4) quoting various sources rules that besides the five afflictions of abstention that our Sages gave us, it is prohibited to commit additional actions that cause pain and distress and he quotes the Sheiltos and others sources mentioned above. The sources assert that there is indeed a mitzva of simcha and oneg on Yom Kippur too. Elef Hamogen (ibid: 16) mentions that placing stones or gravel inside shoes, is prohibited also by the interdiction of following the ways of the worshiping nations.
Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a mentioned that there may be also a muktza prohibition involved on the stones and gravel.
The Rov also pointed out to the Yesod Veshoresh Haavoda (2: Shaar Hoeisson 10) where he stresses again and again how crucial it is that the afflictions of Yom Kippur, should all be done with great simcha and love to Hashem.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as revised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a