Rosh Hashanah

Some Concluding Thoughts on Masechet Rosh Hashanah

June 14, 2014 By: rabbi jay kelman
The last Mishnah in Masechet Rosh Hashanah quotes a debate between the Sages and Rabban Gamliel on a fundamental aspect of prayer. "The same way the shaliach tzibbur, congregational messenger, is obligated [in prayer], so, too, is each and every individual. Rabban Gamliel says: The shaliach tzibbur fulfills the obligation on behalf of the congregation" (Rosh Hashanah 33b). As we discussed in a recent post...
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Rosh Hashanah 29: Crying on Yom Tov

June 12, 2014 By: rabbi jay kelman
The fourth and last chapter of Masechet Rosh Hashanah focuses on the mitzvah of shofar and the special davening—malchiut, zichronot and shofarot—for this special day. These two mitzvoth were joined together with the blowing of shofar taking place during the recital of the amidah. In fact, as far as the Mishnah is concerned, the shofar was blown only during the amidah. Our...
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Rosh Hashanah 29: A Split Personality

June 10, 2014 By: rabbi jay kelman
"Kol Yisrael areivim zeh bazeh, all Jews are co-signers [responsible] for one another" (Shevuot 39a). This is not just a nice idea reflecting the bond we must feel for all Jews everywhere; it is a legal principle, allowing one to perform certain mitzvoth on behalf of another. It is through mitzvoth that our community is strongest. While all are obligated in the mitzvah of Kiddush or reading the Megillah, the common practice...
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Rosh Hashanah 25: A Saving Kiss

June 08, 2014 By: rabbi jay kelman
G-d is known as kel mistater, a hidden G-d (Yishayahu 46:15). Being created in His image, man, too, should yearn for anonymity. As Rav Soloveitchik notes, we know almost nothing about the members of the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah, those most responsible for setting up Jewish life as we know it today. Under their direction, the Oral Law became the focal point of Torah. Much of the Mishnah is written anonymously, stam Mishnah, and...
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Rosh Hashanah 23: A Sweet Smell

June 07, 2014 By: rabbi jay kelman
There is a widespread custom to decorate our shuls with flowers in honour of Shavuot. This beautiful custom commemorates the flourishing of the desert in the vicinity of Mount Sinai as the Jews received the Torah. The gloom and desolateness of the desert was transformed to an oasis, thriving with the sounds and scents of life. While the flowers commemorate the surrounding at Sinai, it is through learning the Torah itself that is the essence of...
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