Tag Archives: Rosh Hashanah-Rav

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Daniel-Lehmann

The Dual Nature of Shofar

This reflection is an excerpt from the Hebrew College High Holiday Companion, to be published late summer 2017, for study and reflection during the High Holidays. Learn more and sign up for our pre-order list.  The sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn, during the month of Elul leading up to Rosh Hashanah and on Rosh Hashanah itself, has a dual nature. In one of the classic medieval codes of… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Listening to the Call of the Shofar

Although it’s not Yom Kippur yet, I might as well begin with a confession. My natural tendency during this season of teshuvah, is to swing rather dramatically between the poles of self-judgment and compassion. I zealously take on the role of prosecuting attorney – enumerating my failings, flushing as I recall moments of regret and shame. (Okay, “moments” may be a bit of an understatement.) After I’ve had about as… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Creating Worlds with Our Words: Shabbat Shuva/Parshat Vayelech (Deteronomy 31:1-31:30)

“Every day, consciously and unconsciously, human beings scatter heaps of words to the wind . . .” — Haim Nachman Bialik We live in a world in which we are constantly pummeled with words — words of pundits and preachers, politicians and salespeople, promoters and self-promoters of every persuasion. It feels increasingly difficult to sift through all this verbiage for words that matter. It feels increasingly difficult to discern the… Read Article →

Seventy Faces of Torah Daniel-Lehmann

The Reciprocity of Repentance

Parshat Nitzavim, Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20 This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Nitzavim, focuses our attention on the religious imperative of repentance, and is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah in anticipation of and preparation for the Days of Awe. One verse in particular points to a counterintuitive idea about the process of teshuvah (return and repentance) that is worth unpacking. The latter part of Deuteronomy 30:9 states that “For the… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah Rabbi Ebn Leader

Celebrating Creation: The 25th of Elul and Rosh Hashanah

Rabbi Eliezer taught: the world was created on the twenty-fifth of Elul… This implies that Adam was created on Rosh Hashanah. In the first hour [of that day] the idea arose [in the Divine mind to create humankind]… in the ninth [hour Adam and Eve were] commanded [not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge], in the tenth [hour they] transgressed the commandment, in the eleventh [hour they were] judged,… Read Article →

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Hayom Harat Olam

This sermon was originally delivered on Rosh Hashanah 5776 at the Newton Centre Minyan.    In a little while, as we stand and hear the call of the shofar, we will recite these words: Hayom harat olam.  Translated in our machzor: “Today the world stands as at birth.” The liturgy beckons us back to the beginning of time. We are invited to imagine the world as utterly new. A pristine universe of potentiality stretched out before… Read Article →

Rabbinical School Divrei Torah rainbow

Marheshvan – In the Wake of the Floodwaters

And as I watch the drops of rain Weave their weary paths and die, I know that I am like the rain There but for the grace of You go I. (Paul Simon, “Kathy’s Song”) Marheshvan (or Heshvan) is the month of darkening days creeping towards the winter solstice, leaves ablaze on the New England trees, dank air and occasional torrential rains. Nights lengthen, the dawn is incrementally delayed, and… Read Article →

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Meditation on Zikhronot (God’s Remembering)

In the Torah, Rosh HaShana is called yom teru‘ah “a day of sounding the shofar” (Num. 29:1) and zikharon teru‘ah “a remembrance of sounding the shofar” (Lev. 23:24), yet no reason is given for why we blow the shofar. If it is a day of remembering, what are we compelled to recall? Is the shofar meant to arouse our own memory, or God’s? For us, memory is an act of recollection, reassembling past events… Read Article →

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The Routine Call of the Shofar

I know that we’re about to begin the month of Tishrei, the opening of the Jewish year, with Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, but humor me for a bit while I write about Pesah. In the Talmud Yerushalmi, Rabbi Levi says that “anyone who eats matzah on the day before Pesah is like a man who has sex with his fiancée in his father-in-law’s house,” i.e., prior to the… Read Article →

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Reimagining Kingship and Judgment

In a few short days (too few for those of us leading services!), Jewish people will flock to synagogues to observe Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. The Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) have a magnetic pull that draws more Jewish people to houses of worship than at any other time of year. But when we arrive there, we are confronted with what for many of us is a major stumbling block… Read Article →