Tag Archives: Rosh Hashanah

Seventy Faces of Torah Rabbi Adina Allen

Will We Listen?

(Ki Tavo, Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8) In this week’s parsha, Moses sets two paths before the Israelites as they prepare to enter the land. If they heed God’s word, the Israelites will be blessed in every way possible and will be established as am kadosh, a holy people to God. If, however, they do not heed God, they will be cursed in every way imaginable. Their communities will be torn apart, their… Read Article →

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“One Thing I Ask of YHWH: Humility and the Spirituality of Speech”

This reflection is an excerpt from the Hebrew College High Holiday Companion, published in August 2017, for study and reflection during the High Holidays. Learn more and order your copy. It is customary to begin reciting Psalm 27 on the first day of Elul, one month before Rosh Hashanah, and continuing through Sukkot. Like the sounding of the shofar, this twice-daily practice (morning and night) is intended to help us reflect on… 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 →

Parenting Through a Jewish Lens emily mathis with daughter final

Counting down… and making way for enlivening

Even if you pay only scant attention, it’s hard to avoid the countdown to Election Day.  We may be reminded to register to vote, make contributions, and perhaps to help get out the vote.  At the same time, there is another countdown, once the Hebrew month of Elul begins (this year, it started on September 4th). We may be reminded by the call of the shofar or simply the date… 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 →

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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 →

Seventy Faces of Torah Shofar

Wake Up to a New Year: A Yom Kippur Reflection

The shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah are designed to wake us up. How do we avoid hitting the snooze button, rolling over, and going back to sleep once the holiday passes? That is the goal of Yom Kippur – to keep us spiritually awake. In the days of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, Yom Kippur was primarily a day focused on ritual purity. While ritual purity and impurity may not… 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 →