Rosh Hashanah 18: Changing G-d's Mind
In the last couple of posts, we discussed the fact that many of our prayers are likely to have little impact. We noted how many of the Talmudic views teach that once our fate is sealed on Rosh Hashanah (or Yom Kippur), we are basically praying for next year (see here). And when we do pray, we must never assume our prayers will be effective--such is liable to bring our sins to G-d's attention (see here). Yet whether or not our...Continue Reading »
Rosh Hashanah 16b: Better Not Pray Too Much
We are familiar with the term iyun tefillah from our daily davening, where iyun tefillah is included amongst "the things whose fruits we eat in this world [but] whose principle [reward] awaits in the world to come". The term iyun implies to explore or investigate and thus, iyun tefillah would seem to indicate the seriousness of prayer, and the seriousness with...Continue Reading »
Rosh Hashanah 16: Why Bother to Pray?
"At four times the world is judged: On Pesach for produce; on Shavuot for the fruit of the tree; on Rosh Hashanah, all who come into the world pass before Him like the children of Maron, as it says, 'He creates the hearts of them all, and discerns all of their deeds' (Tehillim 33:15); and on the holiday [Sukkot], we are judged for on water" (Rosh Hashanah 16a). Rosh Hashanah is the Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgment, a theme that...Continue Reading »
Rosh Hashanah 12: Rosh Hashanah Farming
Sometimes one can glean the most interesting information from the most unexpected places. "Our Rabbis taught: [one who] gathered a vegetable on erev Rosh Hashanah up until the sun has set, and he returned and gathered when the sun set--one may not give the terumah and ma'aser tithes...Continue Reading »
Rosh Hashanah 10: Does It Really Matter?
History is not something that greatly interested our Talmudic Sages. Of course, such was the norm for all in the ancient world; and history as a serious academic discipline is a product of modernity. The historical information presented in the Bible is only that which directly relates to the mission of the Jewish people. Questions such as the identity of the Pharaoh of the Exodus or the location of Mount Sinai are ignored. It thus seems a bit...Continue Reading »