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Yoram Ettinger

טענת השורשיות הפלסטינית מערבית לירדן: bit.ly/3iebEne ... See MoreSee Less

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Yoram Ettinger

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Rosh Hashanah (New Year) Guide for the Perplexed, 2020

Based on ancient Jewish Sages, https://bit.ly/2Fx3pVD
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The evening of September 18, 2020 will launch the 5781th Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah).

  1. Annual reminder. The Hebrew word Rosh (ראש) means head/beginning and Hashanah (השנה) means the year. The root of the Hebrew word Shanah is both “repeat” and “change.” It constitutes an annual reminder of the need to pursue enhanced behavior: a life-long venture. It is conducted by a repeated study of moral values, while learning from experience by avoiding past errors and enhancing/changing one’s behavior.  Rosh Hashanah ushers-in the Ten Days of Repentance, which are concluded on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).
  2. Humility. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the 6th day of Creation, when the first human-being, Adam, was created.  Adam is the Hebrew word for a human-being (אדמ), which is the root of the Hebrew word for “soil” (אדמה). Moreover, the Hebrew letter  הis an abbreviation of God, the Creator.  Thus, the date of the Jewish New Year highlights the centrality of the soil – a metaphor for humility – in human life.
  3. Genesis. The Hebrew letters of Rosh (ראש) constitute the root of the Hebrew word for Genesis, pronounced “Be’re’sheet” (בראשית), which is the first word in the Book of Genesis. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrei. Tishrei means beginning/Genesis in ancient Acadian. The Hebrew letters of Tishrei (תשרי) are included in the spelling of Genesis (בראשית). Furthermore, the Hebrew spelling of Genesis (בראשית) includes the first two letters in the Hebrew alphabet (אב), the middle letter (י) and the last three letters (רשת) – representing the totality and wholesomeness of the Creation.
  4. The Shofar (ritual ram’s horn). Rosh Hashanah is announced and celebrated in a humble and determined manner, by the blowing of the Shofar. The sound of the Shofar used to alert people to physical threats (e.g., military assaults). On Rosh Hashanah, it alarms people to spiritual threats, while paving the potential road to salvation. It serves as a wakeup call to the necessity of cleansing one’s behavior.
  5. The Jubilee. In ancient times, the blowing of the Shofar was employed to announce the (50th) year of the Jubilee – the Biblical role model of liberty. The English name for Jubilee is derived from the Hebrew word Yovel, a synonym for Shofar.  The Jubilee inspired the US Founding Fathers’ concept of liberty as inscribed on the Liberty Bell: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10).  It also inspired the US anti-slavery, Abolitionist, movement.
  6. Enhanced behavior. The Hebrew spelling for Shofar שופר)) is a derivative of the verb to enhance שפר)), enticing people to persist in the unending, uphill voyage of behavioral improvement.
  7. Peace-through-strength. The shofar is made from the horn of a ram, which is a peaceful animal equipped with strong horns to fend off predators. The numerical value of the Hebrew word “ram,” (איל) is 41 (א-1,
    י-10, ל-30), which is equal to the value of “mother” (אם, א-1, ם-40), who strongly shields her children. Rosh Hashanah prayers highlight the strength of the Biblical Matriarchs: Sarah, Rachel and Hanna, who gave birth to Isaac, Joseph, Benjamin and Samuel respectively. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated during the Jewish month of Tishrei, which is “the month of the Strong Ones” (Book of Kings A, 8:2), when Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Samuel were born.
  8. Commemoration. The 100 blows of the Shofar during Rosh Hashanah services commemorate:

*The creation of Adam, the first human-being;

*The almost-sacrifice of Isaac, which was prevented by God’s angel and a ram;

*The receipt of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai;

*The tumbling of the walls of Jericho upon re-entering the Land of Israel;

*Judge Gideon’s war against the Midianites;

*The destruction of the two Jewish Temples;

*The Jewish ingathering to the Land of Israel;

*The reaffirmation of faith in God, the Creator (In God We Trust).

  1. Rosh Hashanah is one of four Jewish new years:

*The first day of the month of Tishrei celebrates the anniversary of the Creation (Rosh Hashanah), the beginning of the Jewish civil calendar, the setting of the Sabbatical (7th) and Jubilee (50th) years, and the time for calculating the annual tithe (10%) on vegetable and grains.

*The first day of the month of Nissan initiates the first of the three Jewish pilgrimages/festivals (Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles) and the measuring of the reign of ancient kings.

*The first day of the month of Elul initiated the preparations for Rosh Hashanah and the New Year for animal tithes in ancient Israel.

*The 15th day of the month of Shvat is the new year of trees (Arbor Day), which represent humility, tenacity and growth.

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Wishing you a healthy, challenging and rewarding year

 

 




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Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Guide for the Perplexed, 2020

Based on ancient Jewish Sages, September 24, 2020,
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  1. Yom Kippur is observed on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei (September 28, 2020), whose astrological sign is Libra (♎), which symbolizes the key themes of Yom Kippur: truth, justice, scales, humility, tolerance, sensitivity and optimism. Libra is ruled by the planet Venus (Noga – נגה in Biblical Hebrew – which is the name of my oldest granddaughter), reflecting divine light and compassion.
  2. The Hebrew word Kippur, כיפור (atonement/repentance), is a derivative of the Biblical word Kaporetכפורת ,, which was the cover of the Holy Ark in the Sanctuary, and Kopher, כופר, the cover of Noah’s Ark and the Holy Altar in the Temple. The day of Yom Kippur resembles a spiritual cover (dome), which separates the holy (Yom Kippur) from the mundane (the rest of the year), between spiritualism and materialism. The Kippah, כיפה (skullcap, yarmulke’), which covers one’s head during prayers, reflects a spiritual dome.
  3. Yom Kippur (the 10th day of the Jewish year) concludes 10 days of soul-searching, atonement and repentance– the holiest Jewish time – which begins on Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the Jewish year, commemorating the creation of the first human-being, Adam.

Ten has special significance in Judaism: God’s abbreviation is the 10th Hebrew letter (Yod – י); the 10 spheres of the spiritual universe, which were highlighted during the Creation (the word “sphere” is a derivative of the Biblical Hebrew word “sapir,” which means “glowing”); the 10 Commandments; the 10 Plagues of Egypt; 10 reasons for blowing the Shofar; the 10% Biblical gift to God (tithe); the 10 Martyrs (Jewish leaders), who were tortured/murdered by the Roman Empire; the 10 generations between Adam and Noah and between Noah and Abraham; the 10 divine tests passed by Abraham; the 10-person-quorum (Minyan in Hebrew), which is required for a collective Jewish prayer service; the 10 sons of Haman and the 10 Nazi leaders, who were hung; etc.

  1. Asking forgiveness of fellow human-beings – and not only of God – is a major feature of Yom Kippur. From acrimony and vindictiveness to forgiveness and peace-of-mind. Hence, sinners and criminals are invited to Yom Kippur services. Asking forgiveness is consistent with Leviticus 19:18 (“Love thy neighbor as yourself”), and with the philosophy of Hillel the Elder, a leading 1st century BCE Jewish Sage: “Do not do unto your fellow person that which is hateful to you. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary….” Asking forgiveness of fellow human-beings aims at displaying magnanimity, compassion, consideration, responsibility, optimism and faith. It recognizes one’s fallibilities, learning from one’s mistakes, minimizing future missteps, elevating morality and enhancing family and community cohesion.
  2. Fasting is a key feature of Yom Kippur. The Hebrew spelling of fasting is צומ, which is the root of the Hebrew word ((צמצומ for reducing/focusing. Thus, one is recommended to fast on Yom Kippur, while reducing material and egotistic pleasure (spiritual cleansing), in order to focus on one’s soul-searching, examining and enhancing one’s behavioral track record toward fellow human beings.
  3. The origin of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is Leviticus 23:26-32: “The Lord said to Moses, that the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of Atonement…. Do not do any work on that day…. This is a lasting ordinance for generations to come….”
  4. The six annual Jewish fasting days:

(a) The 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei is Yom Kippur, an annual day of repentance, through soul-searching and avoidance of food and most forms of luxury.

(b) The 10th day of the Jewish month of Tevet commemorates the beginning of the 589-586 BCE siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar;

(c) The 17th day of the month of Tammuz commemorates the 586 BCE and 69 CE breaching of Jerusalem’s walls by the Babylonian and Roman Empires, and the breaking of the Tablets by Moses upon confronting the Golden Calf lapse of faith;

(d) The 9th day of the month of Av commemorates the destruction of the first (586 BCE) and second (70 CE) Jewish Temples, by the Babylonian and Roman Empires respectively, the beginning of Jewish exile, and the Ten Spies’ bankruptcy of faith;

(e) The 3rd day of the month of Tishrei commemorates the murder of the Jewish Governor of Jerusalem, Gedalyah Ben Achikam, by another Jew, Yishmael Ben Netanyah (586 BCE);

(f) The 13th day of the month of Adar is the Fast of Queen Esther, whose Hebrew name was Hadassah, which means righteousness. The day before the happy Purim holiday is a fast day, commemorating Queen Esther’s three-day-fast prior to her appeal to the Persian King Ahasuerus to refrain from exterminating the Jews (around 480 BCE);

  1. Blowing the Shofar (ritual ram’s horn) launches the Ten Days of Repentance on Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and concludes them at the end of Yom Kippur. It represents humility, determination, optimism and peace-through-strength (the ram). It is a reminder of the binding of Isaac (which was averted by a ram), the receipt of the Torah at Mount Sinai, the conquest of Jericho by Joshua and Gideon’s victory over the 135,000 strong Midianite military.

The Hebrew word Shofar – שופר – means to enhance (שפר) and top quality, glory and spiritual pleasure (שופרא).

  1. A Memorial Candle in memory of one’s parents is lit on Yom Kippur, reaffirming “Honor Thy Father and Mother,” providing an opportunity to ask forgiveness of one’s parent(s) and asking forgiveness on their behalf.

More on Jewish holidays: Smashwords, Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 




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