Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah 9: Fasting and Feasting

May 22, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"You shall afflict your soul on the ninth of the month [of Tishrei] in the evening, from evening to evening you shall rest" (Vayikra 23:32). As Yom Kippur begins on the tenth of Tishrei--"but on the tenth of this seventh month, it is Yom HaKippurim" (23:27)--the Torah's phraseology is rather strange. Why say "the ninth in the evening" if you mean the tenth? This unusual wording led Rabbi Yishmael (Rosh Hashanah...
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Rosh Hashanah 6: My Word Is My Bond

May 20, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"The first of Nissan is the New Year for festivals" (Rosh Hashanah 2a). There is no holiday that begins on the first of Nissan. Rather, the Gemara explains, the first of Nissan is the month in which the first of the holidays (Pesach) occurs. While we observe the technical details of Pesach for seven (or eight) days, the holiday of Pesach fills an entire month. This celebration is even explicit in the Torah itself: "The month that...
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Rosh Hashanah 4: Where Is My Reward?

May 14, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The defeat of Babylonians by Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE led to a (temporary) golden age of Jewish life under Persian rule. Cyrus allowed the Jewish people to return to the land of Israel and build the Temple. "And the elders of the Jews build and prospered, through the prophesying of Haggai the Prophet and Zechariah, the son of Iddo. And they built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the...
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Some Opening Thoughts on Masechet Rosh Hashanah

May 12, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Rosh Hashanah conjures up images of prayer, repentance, and new beginnings. It is the time of year when we are more focused on spiritual matters and our own mortality. Yet Masechet Rosh Hashanah opens by listing the four New Years our tradition observes. Not only is Rosh Hashanah not the only New Year, the first of Tishrei is only one of the four days on which the world is judged—the others being Pesach (wheat), Shavuot (fruit), and Sukkot...
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Rosh Hashanah 2: A New Year for Kings

May 11, 2014 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Arba Rosh Hashana hem, there are four New Years; on the first of Nissan is the New Year for kings and festivals" (Rosh Hashanah 2a). Amongst the New Years listed are those for tithing of fruit (Tu Beshvat), animals (1st of Elul), and vegetables (1st of Tishrei); and the beginning of the Shmitta and Yovel years (1st of Tishrei). The dates of these New Years correspond to their natural cycles: fruits begin to ripen around Tu...
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