Rosh Hashanah

Some Concluding Thoughts on Masechet Rosh Hashanah

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).

Rosh Hashanah 29: Crying on Yom Tov

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.

Rosh Hashanah 25: A Saving Kiss

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.

Rosh Hashanah 23: A Sweet Smell

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 Shavuot.

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 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.


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