Rosh Hashanah

Some Reflections on the year 2020

“Ezra enacted for the Jewish people that they should read the curses that are recorded in Vayikra before Shavuot and [the curses] of Devarim before Rosh Hashanah. What is the reason? Abaye, and some say it was Reish Lakish, said: In order that the year may end together with its curses” (Megillah 31b).

While the above is said regarding the lead-up to Rosh Hashanah, there are few who would argue that it is most relevant as the year 2020 comes to an end. 

Rosh Hashanah: Time for Change

Man has a tremendous capacity for self-deception. We easily see faults in others; somehow, we miss them in ourselves. Teshuva, repentance, can begin only when we are honest with ourselves and admit that we have made mistakes. While we often can admit to certain "minor" errors, like being late or failing to say “good morning” to somebody, we have tremendous difficulty admitting to mistakes that can only be corrected by a change of lifestyle.

Some Thoughts on This Year's Yamim Noraim

The Yamim Noraim of the year 70 must have been quite traumatic. The Temple had been destroyed less than two months earlier and thousands lay dead, with many others exiled. Never in anyone’s lifetime had there been such a disruption to the normal routine of life. Could Judaism survive, and if so, in what form? “The house of prayer for all nations” lay in ruins, and surely there was no way to observe Yom Kippur. How could there be with no goat to carry away the sins of the Jewish people nor high priest to effect atonement?

Rosh Hashanah: Early, Late or Just Right

"And on the seventh month on the first day of the month, it shall be a day of rest. It is a sacred day for remembrance and blowing" (Vayikra 23:24). What the Torah calls a day of blowing (of the ram's horn) is more commonly known as Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. Yet the seventh month seems an odd time to be celebrating the start of a new year. We are apparently six months late…or perhaps it is six months early. 

Rosh Hashanah: A Redemptive Moment

One of the strengths of the Jewish people is our ability to focus on the future. What we do tomorrow is more important than we did yesterday. The entire notion of teshuva is dependent on our ability to move beyond the past, to say that I can do better tomorrow than yesterday.

We are people who exude hope for the future no matter what may have transpired in the past. Only such a people could possibly build one of the most successful countries on earth from the ashes of the Holocaust.

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