Chayei Sarah | חיי שרה | “Sarah’s life “
And Yitzchak said to Avraham his father, and he said, “My father,” and he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Here is the fire, and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” And Avraham said, “God will provide Himself a lamb for the burnt offering.” And they went, both of them, together. (Bereishit 22:7-8)
Life is so very short and yet the days can seem to last for an eternity with no hope in sight. So many ups and downs in this life, who can make sense of them all?
Yitzchak’s life was so short it seems. Yet, he outlived all the Patriarchs. Yitzach was 180 old when he went to sleep with our forefathers. There are only five chapters devoted to Yitzchak’s life compared to Abraham and Ya’accov’s lives. Avraham 13 chapters and Ya’accov 20 chapters.
How can a life seem, so short, and yet, be so long? The pains of life can be as a fire and the counsel of men can be as crackling wood in the fire. The flames of this life can seem to be overwhelming at times. So, how can one walk through this fire and not be burned?
How can I see the fire and the wood and yet trust that everything is going to be good?
Know that my Torah is like a fire that brings you warmth in the cold and as a flaming fire that goes before you in the times of trouble and anguish to make you bold before the enemy. Trust that my (Hashem’s) counsel is superior to your wisdom and the counsel of fools. For the Torah is a flame and the tree of life to those who hold on to it and all its path are peace. And like Rivkah, the ewe/ lamb was found watering the camels until they had all drank from (Mayim Hayim) living waters, so may your soul be quenched in this day as we are lead by Hashem.
Nechama Leibowitz offers an interesting interpretation of a verse from the consolation of Yishayahu: “While those who wait upon God will renew their strength; they will rise up with wings like eagles, they will run and not be weary; they will walk and not faint” (Yishayahu 40:31):
This verse raises a question: as we know, the general rule in Tanakh is that the two parallel parts of a verse proceed from the lighter form or scenario to the more intensive one. Thus, this verse should read, “They will walk and not faint, [and even if] they will run – they will not be weary.” Why, then, is the order here reversed?
In moments when we are raised up on waves of enthusiasm, we are all capable of one-time acts of heroism. We are able to elevate ourselves to great heights; we can gallop forwards. It is far more difficult to fulfill one’s daily obligations, to follow the beaten track even after the initial excitement has worn off, when the glorious glow of the vision has grown dim, when we encounter challenges and obstacles. It is difficult to remain consistently steadfast in the face of all of this without tiring. Therefore, the order of the verse is correct: “They will run [with galloping enthusiasm] and not be weary,” but even when they have to walk, to continue, without racing, “they will not be faint.” (Nechama Leibowitz, Daf le-Tarbut Yehudit11, Tevet 5734)
Continue to walk chaverim carrying the fire and the wood of Hashem and let us go together as one and may Hashem find the Rivkah/lamb in you that will not faint at watering the world.
Parashat Hayei Sarah
Genesis 23 – 25
א וַיִּהְיוּ֙ חַיֵּ֣י שָׂרָ֔ה מֵאָ֥ה שָׁנָ֛ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְשֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֑ים שְׁנֵ֖י חַיֵּ֥י שָׂרָֽה׃
ב וַתָּ֣מָת שָׂרָ֗ה בְּקִרְיַ֥ת אַרְבַּ֛ע הִ֥וא חֶבְר֖וֹן בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וַיָּבֹא֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם לִסְפֹּ֥ד לְשָׂרָ֖ה וְלִבְכֹּתָֽהּ׃
ג וַיָּ֙קָם֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֣י מֵת֑וֹ וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אֶל־בְּנֵי־חֵ֖ת לֵאמֹֽר׃
Genesis 18 – 22
א וַיֵּרָ֤א אֵלָיו֙ יְהוָ֔ה בְּאֵלֹנֵ֖י מַמְרֵ֑א וְה֛וּא יֹשֵׁ֥ב פֶּֽתַח־הָאֹ֖הֶל כְּחֹ֥ם הַיּֽוֹם׃
ב וַיִּשָּׂ֤א עֵינָיו֙ וַיַּ֔רְא וְהִנֵּה֙ שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֔ים נִצָּבִ֖ים עָלָ֑יו וַיַּ֗רְא וַיָּ֤רָץ לִקְרָאתָם֙ מִפֶּ֣תַח הָאֹ֔הֶל וַיִּשְׁתַּ֖חוּ אָֽרְצָה׃
Many times in our lives Hashem presence is overwhelming and many times it seems to be hidden from us. How do we hear from Hashem? Where can we find the right path and the right direction? Who should we listen to? Seeing is a key to hearing. Learn to see.
The whole world is keeping Shabbat together. Will you join in this great event and bring joy to the heart of Hashem as all His children around the world celebrate this day that Hashem has made for rest, but not a rest that can be explained or spoken about but a day that can only be experienced. Come join us. The Shabbat Project Amarillo, Texas Esnoga Bet Hashoavah. 806-670-7136. Gavriel ben David
The Eretz Hemdah Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies in Jerusalem has recently published a collection of responsa (Bemareh Habazak pt. 9), which rule, among other things, that it is possible to determine the Jewish status of a man or a woman based on a unique genetic test, makor Rishon reported Friday. Should this ruling be embraced by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, it would provide many olim from the former Soviet Union a valid means to prove their Jewish ancestry.
“Testing the Mitochondrial genome, which is transmitted exclusively through the female germ line, makes it possible to identify relatives,” Rabbi Yosef Carmel, the Rabbinical Dean of the Eretz Hemdah, told Makor Rishon. “If it can be proven that a Jane Doe is the offspring of a Jewish mother, her own offspring would also be recognized as Jews (from birth).”
According to Rabbi Carmel, “some 40% of European Ashkenazi Jews carry a genetic mark that suggests they are the offspring of four mothers who immigrated to Europe from the Middle East a millennia ago. Chances are high, statistically speaking, that anyone able to prove that they are the offspring of those four mothers is Jewish according to halacha.”
Rabbi Carmel explained that for the purpose of validating an individual’s Jewish heritage a statistical probability is sufficient, rather than a “clear sign.” In his view, once one has been identified as Jewish with this method, they are no longer required to go through a conversion process to become Jewish.
The ruling could resolve hundreds of thousands of pending cases in which olim to Israel from the former USSR are unable to prove their Jewish ancestry and even though they are eligible for an Israeli citizenship, the Chief Rabbinate would not recognize them as Jews for the purpose of marriage, burial, giving testimony, and a variety of additional endeavors that require one to be Jewish in Israel.
Rabbi Carmel believes his ruling would absolve about 40% of Russian olim of the need to convert in order to receive recognition as Jews.
The statistical portion of the ruling was approved by Rabbi Professor Nathan Keller, a graduate of the Einstein Institute of Mathematics in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a researcher of probabilistic combinatorics and cryptography; and the genetic research was approved by Professor Karl Skorecki, the Director of Medical and Research Development at the Rambam Health Care Campus..
Rabbi Carmel and his colleague, Rabbi Moshe Ehrenreich have been lobbying the Chief Rabbinate to accept their research and ruling. They say the initial response from the Rabbinate has been positive, but an official response is yet to be issued.
The Descendants of Sephardic, Anusim, Converso, and Crypto-Jews are welcome to add their Ancestors and/or their own profiles to this project.
My grandfather Luz Ramirez Diaz was from Nueva Leon Mexico and had a very secret life. On his death bed, he asked my mother to bury him within 24 hours.
Luz is the acient name for Jerusalem and also light in Spanish. I did my uncle’s ,Yoseph Diaz DNA, because I had converted to Judaism and for some unexplained reason for all my life I never fit into religion and only after converting to Judaism did I find my way home.
My uncle supplied a key to all the questions I could never answer in my life. What are you waiting for? Return home!
Jews of New Mexico
When most people think of the the “Jews of New Mexico”, they think of German/Ashkenazi Jews coming in the Santa Fe Trail in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s and setting up mercantile stores from Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and all points west, south, and north. Today the descendants of these first Ashkenazi families have taken their place in NM politics, government, education etc. The first Jewish synagogue in New Mexico was built in 1885 in Las Vegas NM; one of my uncles M.A. Otero according to Henry Tobias in “A History of the Jews of New Mexico” was a financial contributor to the building project.
But unknown to many people, Jews from Spain came to New Mexico in the 1500’s because of the Spanish Inquisition and the later Mexican Inquisition; they hid their Jewish blood and ways and assimilated into the Catholic Hispanic culture. The first ones to “convert” whether forced (anusim), of necessity, or of genuine faith- we today carry the DNA, genealogies, and the stories of a Jewish ancestry and past.
Dr. Denis Ismael Otero traces one of his several lines through his father and mothers lines to the Abraham HaLevi family of Spain. Many in New Mexico are doing DNA and genealogy studies and are coning up with the same results.
If you have Jewish/Cohen DNA, Genealogy, and/or stories from your abuelos and primos- add your tree to this project
Tests confirm what tradition and whispers have alluded to — a Sephardic community often unbeknownst to many of its members.
As a boy, Father William Sanchez sensed he was different. His Catholic family spun tops on Christmas, shunned pork and whispered of a past in medieval Spain. If anyone knew the secret, they weren’t telling, and Sanchez stopped asking.
Then three years ago, after watching a program on genealogy, Sanchez sent for a DNA kit that could help track a person’s background through genetic footprinting. He soon got a call from Bennett Greenspan, owner of the Houston-based testing company. “He said, ‘Did you know you were Jewish?’ ” Sanchez, 53, recalled. “He told me I was a Cohanim, a member of the priestly class descended from Aaron, the brother of Moses.” With the revelation that Sanchez was almost certainly one of New Mexico’s hidden or crypto-Jews, his family traditions made sense to him.
He launched a DNA project to test his relatives, along with some of the parishioners at Albuquerque’s St. Edwin’s Church, where he works. As word got out, others in the community began contacting him. So Sanchez expanded the effort to include Latinos throughout the state.
Of the 78 people tested, 30 are positive for the marker of the Cohanim, whose genetic line remains strong because they rarely married non-Jews throughout a history spanning up to 4,000 years.
Michael Hammer, a research professor at the University of Arizona and an expert on Jewish genetics, said that fewer than 1% of non-Jews possessed this marker. That fact — along with the traditions in many of these families — makes it likely that they are Jewish, he said.
“It makes their stories more consistent and believable,” Hammer said. It also explained practices that had baffled many folks here for years: the special knives used to butcher sheep in line with Jewish kosher tradition, the refusal to work on Saturdays to honor the Sabbath, the menorahs that had been hidden away. In some families, isolated rituals are all that remain of a once-vibrant religious tradition diluted by time and fears of persecution.
Norbert Sanchez, 66, recalled the “service of lights” on Friday nights in his hometown of Jareles, N.M., where some families would dine by candlelight.
“We always thought there was a Jewish background in our family, but we didn’t know for sure,” he said. “When I found out, it was like coming home for me.”
In 1492, Jews in Spain where given the choice of conversion to Catholicism or expulsion. Many fled, but others faked conversions while practicing their faith in secret. These crypto-Jews were hounded throughout the Spanish Inquisition.
“In the 1530s and 1540s, you began to see converted Jews coming to Mexico City, where some converted back to Judaism,” said Moshe Lazar, a professor of comparative literature at USC and an expert on Sephardic Jews, or those from Spain and Portugal. “The women preserved their tradition. They taught their daughters the religion. People began rediscovering their Jewishness, but remained Catholics.”
But in 1571, the Inquisition came to Mexico. Authorities were given lists to help identify crypto-Jews, Lazar said. People who didn’t eat pork, knelt imperfectly in church, rubbed water quickly off newly baptized babies or didn’t work on Saturday were suspect. If arrested, they were sometimes burned at the stake.
￼ Many fled to what is now northern New Mexico, and remained secretive even after the U.S. gained control of the area in 1848.
“Still, no one would come out and say: ‘I am a Jew.’ That didn’t happen until the 1970s,” said Stanley Hordes, a professor at the Latin American and Iberian Institute of the University of New Mexico who is writing a book on crypto-Jews. “The first few generations kept the secret because of danger of physical harm, and later they kept it because that was just what they did. The $64,000 question is: Why the secrecy today? Why are people keeping this information from their kids and grandkids?” Some haven’t.
“I found out when I was 13,” said Keith Chaves, 47, an engineer in Albuquerque. “My great-grandmother told me that we were Sepharditos.”
The family matriarch was a repository of knowledge — and the keeper of secrets. “She kept a kosher knife rolled up in a piece of leather that she would only use for killing,” Chaves said. “And she would kill the animal by cutting its throat in one motion. She abhorred the ways others killed animals.”
Born a Catholic, Chaves now attends an Orthodox synagogue in Albuquerque. He has made four documentaries on crypto-Jews and is working on a movie about his family history.
“When I found out about my roots, I went to the library and my world opened up. I started peeling what turned out to be a 500-year-old onion,” he said. “I have reclaimed my life. I live a Jewish life now. I think my great-grandmother told me because she expected me to do something fruitful with the information.” Others have sought the truth on their own.
Elisea Garcia was raised by a strong-willed grandmother with strange habits. “We would have a big dinner on Friday night with candles,” said Garcia, 66, who is awaiting the results of a DNA test done on her son to see if he has the Cohanim marker, which is found only in the Y chromosome. “She would butcher the animals then examine them inside out for any sign of impurity. On Saturday we weren’t even allowed to wash our hair.”
When her grandmother died, Garcia found a silver menorah hidden in her room. “I’m a curious person, but my uncle told me not to dig into things because they weren’t important,” she said.
Garcia, a Catholic, attends both synagogue and church . “It makes me aware of the whole concept of God,” she said. Greenspan, whose Family Tree DNA does the testing for Sanchez’s project, said there had been a surge of interest in genealogy among Latinos looking for Jewish connections.
“We believe a fairly high percentage of first families [arriving] in New Mexico were nominally Catholic, but their secret religion was Judaism,” he said. “We are finding between 10% and 15% of men living in New Mexico or south Texas or northern Mexico have a Y chromosome that tracks back to the Middle East.”
They are not all Cohanim, and there’s a slight chance some could be of African Muslim descent. But Greenspan said the DNA of the men is typical of Jews from the eastern Mediterranean.
Test participants scrape cells from the inside of their cheeks and mail samples to Greenspan, who has them analyzed by researchers at the University of Arizona. The process takes about a month, with costs ranging from $100 to $350 depending on the detail requested. Women, who do not possess the Y chromosome, must have a male relative take the test in order to participate.
Since discovering his past, Father Sanchez — who wears a Star of David around his neck — has traveled throughout the state giving talks on the history and genealogy of New Mexico. He also runs the Nuevo Mexico DNA Project and website that tells how people can take part.
Sanchez describes his Jewish history as “a beautiful thing” complementing, not conflicting with, his priestly life.
“I have always known I was Jewish; I can’t explain it, but it was woven into who I was,” he said.
After Mass one recent morning, a group of parishioners filed out of St. Edwin’s. None had a problem with their priest’s dueling religious traditions.
“He has taken us back to our roots,” Robert Montoya said. And Theresa Villagas smiled. “We are all children of God,” she said. “I think this just adds richness to our lives.” Source
Sephardic – Sepharad
“Sepharad” is the Biblical name for Spain as found in Obadiah 1:20 The exiles of this army, the sons of Israel, will have the Canaanites’ land as far as Zarephthah, while the exiles from Jerusalem now in Sepharad will have the cities of the Negeb.
A Jewish person who is catholic (or Moslem, etc.) outwardly but practices his Jewish faith in a hidden manner.
A “forced one”, someone who is forced into following the prevailing religion. Benai Anusim are the children/descendants of the original Anusim.
A Jewish “convert” to the catholic faith through force, expediency, or genuine faith.
Literally a swine/pig, but also unclean or impure, Conversos were called “marranos” because they ate pig and other unclean meats.
Bibliography for “Jews of New Mexico
(Please add relevant publications)
- To the End of the Earth: A History of the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico, Stanley M. Hordes, Published 2005, Columbia University Press, New York
- A History of the Jews in New Mexico, Henry J. Tobias, Publisher: University of New Mexico Press (June 1, 1992) ISBN-10: 0826313906, ISBN-13: 978-0826313904
Understanding Halachah and the Minhag of Sukkot. This covers Mishnah Torah and Chazal. Biblical narrative and our traditions. The Babylonian Torah reading and the Triannual Cycle of Torah readings. Which is correct and which do we follow today? Are they both correct? Where does Hoshanah Rabah come from? How long has this practice been around?
Who do we serve? Do we serve Hashem or do we serve our selves? I love to ask questions and to argue to find the truth in life. Too often people are just going through life with no meaning or purpose. This was the question, Adam and Ḥawwāh had to ask and to determine for all of their future children. What is the meaning of life?
Rosh Hashana Seder and Simanim
Esonga Bet Hashoavah services :
Wed Sep 20th Erev Rosh HaShana
6:50 PM Candle Lighting
6:30 PM Minha / Arvit
Thu Sep 21st 1st Day of Rosh Hashana
9:00 AM Shaharit
11:00 AM~ Shofar
5:00 PM Minha
5:30 PM Tashlich
6:00 PM Arvit
7:45 PM Candle lighting
Fri Sep 22nd 2nd Day of Rosh Hashana
8:00 AM Shaharit
11:00 AM Shofar
6:30 PM Minha/Arvit
6:46 PM Candle lighting
Sep 23rd Shabbat Shuva
4:00 PM Class
5:20 PM Minha
6:20 PM Arvit
7:42 PM Havdala
Sun Sep 24th Fast of Gedalya
6:00 AM Fast Begins
7:30 PM Fast Ends
Erev Yom Kippurim and Yom Kippurim
Fri Sep 29th Erev Yom Kippur
6:35 PM Candle lighting
6:35 PM Fast Begins
6:40 PM Kol Nidre / Arvit
Shabbat 30th Yom Kippur
4:00 PM Minha
6:00 PM Neilah
7:28 PM End of Fast Shofar
7:30 PM Arvit and Bircat Halevanah
Come and join us in our Prayers services and proclaim Hashem as King.
Rosh HaShana “Seder” and symbolic actions by Rabbi Haim Ovadia
Medjool dates, apple in honey, black-eyed peas, sesame seeds, spinach, squash, and pomegranate seeds may be on our menu this coming Monday, as we sit for the first meal of the Hebrew New Year.
As exciting and wonderful as the Rosh HaShana Seder, as some call it, is, there are some questions and dilemmas surrounding it:
- What is the exact order of the Simanim (signs)?
- Do we eat the Simanim before or after the meal?
- What if some people (read: the children) do not want to eat the spinach?
- Should vegans, who would not eat the head of a lamb or a fish, eat a head of garlic cloves instead?
- Which Simanim are included in the list?
- And most importantly: doesn’t the whole obsession with signs on Rosh HaShana border on paganism or superstitions?
Let us dwell on this last one. Because of the belief that eating sweet things will lead to a sweet year, there are those who avoid eating spicy, sour, bitter, or dark-colored foods. Some foods are excluded from one community’s list, but are mandatory for another (almonds, for example). How can we understand a practice which ties the events of the year with the foods eaten at the beginning of the year? And what if a person is bed-ridden and only had liquids and medicine on Rosh HaShana? Will his year be liquidy? Advily?bed-ridden and only had liquids and medicine on Rosh HaShana? Will his year be liquidy? Advily?
To answer all these questions, and to get a better understanding of the term Siman, which many translate as omen, let us turn to the source of the practice in the Talmud. It appears after several perplexing suggestions for predicting the future. The first experiment informs a person whether he will survive or not until the following Rosh HaShana. In order to discover this terrifying piece of information, one should light a candle in a house where there is not even the slightest draft. If the candle flame is unwavering, he can rest assured, but if it flickers, he’d better call the funeral home.omen, let us turn to the source of the practice in the Talmud. It appears after several perplexing suggestions for predicting the future. The first experiment informs a person whether he will survive or not until the following Rosh HaShana. In order to discover this terrifying piece of information, one should light a candle in a house where there is not even the slightest draft. If the candle flame is unwavering, he can rest assured, but if it flickers, he’d better call the funeral home.
The next one deals with one who wants to start a business and would like to know if he will be successful. He is advised to buy a rooster and feed it. If the rooster becomes fatter, the novice farmer is guaranteed stellar success in his financial endeavors. If, however, the rooster remains slim waisted, our budding entrepreneur should consider visiting the employment agency. There is one more suggestion which the Talmud rejects, and then we hear the following statement from the Talmudic sage Abayye (הוריות, יב:א): Now that you say that Siman has significance, one should try to see on Rosh HaShana squash, black-eyed peas, leeks, spinach, and dates.rooster remains slim waisted, our budding entrepreneur should consider visiting the employment agency. There is one more suggestion which the Talmud rejects, and then we hear the following statement from the Talmudic sage Abayye (הוריות, יב:א): Now that you say that Siman has significance, one should try to see on Rosh HaShana squash, black-eyed peas, leeks, spinach, and dates.
I understand this Talmudic paragraph as a response to the widespread phenomenon of reliance on astrology and incantations in Babylonia. The rabbis wanted to teach people that the most accurate indicator of one’s future is his own behavior. Accordingly, in the first case we deal with someone who wants to know whether or not he will survive the year. He is told to light a candle in a draft-less home and make sure that the flame does not flicker. Oh, but it does. The terrified man scurries from wall to wall, from crevice to crevice, with plaster and a spatula but alas, for every hole he discovers, breeze comes in from ten others. If our man is somewhat wise he will stop after a while, realizing that the experiment was a sign for him. You can never cover all holes and you never know what incredible things will happen this coming year, for good or bad. At that point one starts directing his efforts during the year towards responsibility and awareness, visualizing gaps he must bridge in order to protect his flame, thus (hopefully) prolonging his life.spatula but alas, for every hole he discovers, breeze comes in from ten others. If our man is somewhat wise he will stop after a while, realizing that the experiment was a sign for him. You can never cover all holes and you never know what incredible things will happen this coming year, for good or bad. At that point one starts directing his efforts during the year towards responsibility and awareness, visualizing gaps he must bridge in order to protect his flame, thus (hopefully) prolonging his life.
In the second experiment, one is required to fatten a rooster in order to predict whether he will have success in business. Once he brings the rooster home, he understands that in order to grow it fat he has to pay constant attention. He must protect the bird from diseases and predators, provide food, water and shelter, clean after it, and rise at dawn (or at midnight) with its call. He now also understands how to succeed in business. He must work hard, pay attention to details, and be willing to accept difficulties and small failures before emerging victorious.it fat he has to pay constant attention. He must protect the bird from diseases and predators, provide food, water and shelter, clean after it, and rise at dawn (or at midnight) with its call. He now also understands how to succeed in business. He must work hard, pay attention to details, and be willing to accept difficulties and small failures before emerging victorious.
In reaction to these two very practical thought experiments, Abayye says that now we know that associating our aspirations and hopes with a visual image or object is a helpful technique. He therefore says that one should see on Rosh HaShana certain species, so the image will help him focus his thoughts during prayers. In other words, it is not seeing or eating the honeyed apple or the dates which guarantees a sweet year, but the constant image of these fruits which drives a person in the prayers and throughout the year. It is very similar to soldiers carrying the pictures of their loved ones in a locket so they will be inspired to survive at all costs.
The practice of Simanim should be translated not as omens but rather as suggestive visual meditation. In the original phrasing of the practice the idea was to see, not eat, the fruits. One can therefore choose to eat or not eat any of the Simanim. The order is insignificant but it is best for all participants to follow one version to avoid conflicts. It is also a good idea to add some foods which could be easily associated with the spoken language, since the Simanim have meaning only in Hebrew.omens but rather as suggestive visual meditation. In the original phrasing of the practice the idea was to see, not eat, the fruits. One can therefore choose to eat or not eat any of the Simanim. The order is insignificant but it is best for all participants to follow one version to avoid conflicts. It is also a good idea to add some foods which could be easily associated with the spoken language, since the Simanim have meaning only in Hebrew.
If you are not eating meat you could have some candies (actually, even if you eat meat you could just look at the wrappers) which could have positive associations for English speakers such as: 5th Avenue, Skor, PayDay, Life Savers. Top it off with a Brach’s candy (for Bracha), and most importantly, make sure that everyone feels happy, relaxed, and welcomed at this Rosh HaShana Seder.PayDay, Life Savers. Top it off with a Brach’s candy (for Bracha), and most importantly, make sure that everyone feels happy, relaxed, and welcomed at this Rosh HaShana Seder.
- The festive meal of Rosh HaShana is mentioned in the book of Nehemiah (8:10). As on Shabbat and other holidays, it is what you consider to be festive. It could be fish, dairy, or vegetarian
- The minimal number of sounds one must hear, according to Shulhan Arukh, is nine (or ten, depends how you count Shevarim and Teruah). The set is the basic one, TSRT, TST, TRT, or: Teqiah-Shevarim-Teruah-Teqiah, Teqiah-Shevarim-Teqiah, Teqiah-Teruah-Teqiah.
- There is therefore no need to feel stressed if one or more of the sounds of the shofar was missed, or if it sounded unclear. Also, if one is visiting bedridden people, or mothers with babies who could not make it to the synagogue, and has several visits to make, it suffices to use this set.shofar was missed, or if it sounded unclear. Also, if one is visiting bedridden people, or mothers with babies who could not make it to the synagogue, and has several visits to make, it suffices to use this set.
- When blowing shofar for someone who did not hear shofar yet, the blessings can be recited by either the shofar-blower or the listener, whether man or woman.shofar for someone who did not hear shofar yet, the blessings can be recited by either the shofar-blower or the listener, whether man or woman.
- It is better to recite less prayers, but have time to reflect on them and take them to heart, then keeping at pace with the community. It is told about R. Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook that on Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur he would only recite the Shema and the Amidah. We are uplifted and inspired by the familiar tunes and the communal singing, and we should also take time to study the prayers and find those which most resonate with us.have time to reflect on them and take them to heart, then keeping at pace with the community. It is told about R. Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook that on Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur he would only recite the Shema and the Amidah. We are uplifted and inspired by the familiar tunes and the communal singing, and we should also take time to study the prayers and find those which most resonate with us.
- We must pay special attention to potential dangers in the synagogue, such as security, health concerns, and hurting others’ feelings.
- Synagogue’s administration should take the necessary steps to provide security during the holidays, and to prepare congregants to respond in case of a terror attack.
- There should be medical kits available and first responders appointed.
- In case of an emergency in the synagogue or at home, do not hesitate to call 911 immediately.
- We should pay attention to those around us, especially the elderly, to make sure they are feeling well. This is especially important on Yom Kippur. It is better to prevent an emergency then attend to someone who has fainted, for example.then attend to someone who has fainted, for example.
- It is also very important to make sure that no one is offended, and that fights do not break over seats, honors, or practices.fights do not break over seats, honors, or practices.
- Another famous and beloved symbolic act of Rosh Hashana is Tashlikh, in which people go to a river or to any water source to shake their sins away. This is a relatively late custom, first mentioned by Polish rabbis of the 16th century. The original custom was to stop by the river (probably the Wisla or Vistula), and recite the verse: ותשליך במצולות ים כל חטאתם- Please cast our sins into the abyss. With time, the practice expanded to more verses, personal prayers, readings from the Zohar, shaking the corners of one’s clothes, requiring fish in the water, and bringing breadcrumbs to feed the fish.breadcrumbs to feed the fish.
- We can each follow our customs regarding Tashlikh, but we should keep in mind that it is a symbolic act, meant to prompt us to take the necessary steps to change our life, through repentance, reflection, and asking for forgiveness.
- There is no prohibition in sing electricity on Yom Tov. To the contrary, one who does not use electricity at all, despite the solid arguments in its favor and the long tradition among most Sephardic communities, might be at fault for diminishing the joy of the holiday.sing electricity on Yom Tov. To the contrary, one who does not use electricity at all, despite the solid arguments in its favor and the long tradition among most Sephardic communities, might be at fault for diminishing the joy of the holiday.
Shana Tova uMetukauMetuka
Rabbi Haim Ovadia