Parashat Tezaveh “AND YOU”
Exodus 27 – 30
כ וְאַתָּ֞ה תְּצַוֶּ֣ה ׀ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְיִקְח֨וּ אֵלֶ֜יךָ שֶׁ֣מֶן זַ֥יִת זָ֛ךְ כָּתִ֖ית לַמָּא֑וֹר לְהַעֲלֹ֥ת נֵ֖ר תָּמִֽיד׃
The words of Moshe Rabbenu still speaks to us today. “And you”. What kind of light and what kind of holiness can I bring to this world?
I once had a dream of changing the world, I could see myself, so clearly, accomplishing so many great things and making such a difference in this world. I could feel the greatest and the taste of joy from the many things that would be. The flash of lightning that lit up the road before me was so overwhelming. I could see every pitfall and turn in the way. My vision was so clear and there was nothing to detour me is what I would always say.
But then, life began to restrain me and restrict my way. I felt as if the road became narrower and confined my way. I could no longer even see a road. My life had grown overcast and gray. The light that once shined and lit the way before me had gone just like the day. What had happened? Why is life filled with dismay? Why is life so wasted and filled with decay?
“And You”, Moshe commanded us to take the pure olive oil. The oil that was meant for holiness and to burn in the menorah in the holy place.
Why does Hashem the light of the world need a menorah in the Temple or the Mishkan?
Shemot 25:8(8) וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם׃ And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.
Here we find two words “מִקְדָּ֑שׁ” and “שָׁכַנְ” that are the clues to life.
Rabbi Akiva Tatz in his lecture on Journey to the Self – Inspiration & Disappointment. speaks of two lights. A greater light and a lesser light. Rabbi Tatz says that this is the secret to happiness and the secret of life. If one does not understand these two lights and how they work in our lives then we are destined to find ourselves in the story above. Restained and restricted and never able to find our way.
The first light is free and it is given to us by Hashem. There is nothing we do, it is a gift. The second light we must shine. That is where the work begins!
The first commandment given to us was to sanctify time and to create this world a new. And then we were to make a space in this world for Hashem to dwell.
How are you doing?
More to come on this subject…
Exodus 25 – 27
א וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃
ב דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְיִקְחוּ־לִ֖י תְּרוּמָ֑ה מֵאֵ֤ת כָּל־אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ לִבּ֔וֹ תִּקְח֖וּ אֶת־תְּרוּמָתִֽי׃
ג וְזֹאת֙ הַתְּרוּמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּקְח֖וּ מֵאִתָּ֑ם זָהָ֥ב וָכֶ֖סֶף וּנְחֹֽשֶׁת׃
ד וּתְכֵ֧לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָ֛ן וְתוֹלַ֥עַת שָׁנִ֖י וְשֵׁ֥שׁ וְעִזִּֽים׃
דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְיִקְחוּ־לִ֖י תְּרוּמָ֑ה מֵאֵ֤ת כָּל־אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ לִבּ֔וֹ תִּקְח֖וּ אֶת־תְּרוּמָתִֽי
Whos Heart Motivates Him
In the above pasuk the word for “motivate” is the Hebrew word יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ “נָדַב” As you can see from the word יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ the nun is missing.
Just like the NUN from Psalm 145, it is also missing the letter Nun. In Hebrew grammar sometimes the nun will drop from a word. Nun is the symbol of life and the word “Neshama” begins with the letter Nun. The Neshama is one of the five levels of our soul.
Neshama: The World of Creation
The word neshama has the same root in Hebrew (NShM) as the word for breath. This soul level is associated with higher awareness and angelic realms, it is a defining quality of human consciousness.
The Zohar describes the neshama as follows: “The nefesh and the ruach intertwine together, while the neshama resides in a person’s character. This is an abode which cannot be discovered or located. Should a person strive towards purity in life, he or she is aided by a holy neshama. But should the person not strive for righteousness and purity of life, this person is animated only by two grades: nefesh and ruach.”1
Whereas we all have the power to develop the neshama aspect of our souls, there is no assurance that we will do so. In some ways, this is analogous to a potter’s kiln. Some glazes require a specific temperature for a fixed length of time. If this temperature is not reached, the glaze will not set.
From a spiritual perspective, our life is fired by conscious action (fuel) and clean living (oxygen). We need a good mix of the two to get the temperature high enough to vitalize our higher soul potential. Once this is accomplished we have access to expanded realms of awareness.
Even though our power to nurture our highest soul level is not guaranteed, it is assumed that the purpose of human existence is to parent this lofty objective. The Zohar says: “At first a person has a nefesh. Then she or he is crowned by the grade that rests upon the nefesh, which is the ruach. After this, a superior grade that dominates the others, the neshama, takes up its abode, and the person becomes worthy of the world to come. Nefesh cannot exist without the help of ruach, and ruachin turn is sustained by neshama. The three form a unity.”1
Simply said, human life is not complete without the neshama.
The neshama emanates from an elevated source, while the ruach emanates from a somewhat lower origin. When these two sources unite, they shine with a celestial light and are called: “lamp.” This is found in Proverbs, where it says that “the lamp of God is the neshama of humankind.”1
In many ways, the neshama is an essential aspect of creation. As the neshama is an aspect of soul that is directly connected with the divine source of life, it is via the neshama, and the higher levels of soul, that we co-partner with God in the continuous unfolding of creation.
The neshama is pure in its essence. It cannot be blemished. When we die, it immediately returns to its source. (Rabbi David Cooper)
Who defines Hashem’s Words?
I was speaking with a friend of mine who is an attorney and he was doing some research on a Jewish subject and noticed that he had to literally go through hundreds of Christian sites to find a Jewish source on the subject. How could it be that if you want to know something Jewish today on the web you have Christians defining what Jewishness means? Our culture, our laws, our stories all have been changed to fit a narrative that our fathers did not know.
In this weeks Torah portion I find much hope and comfort as our Hakham, Chazal, Sages and Rabbi’s have kept all our Temple services alive and well for us to know and do. Over fifty chapters of the Torah is dedicated to the Mishkan and as a Jew, I can still participate in all its functions.
The Torah is not something one just studies but it is something that one does. When one reads about tefillin, and kosher, and prayers and sacrifices and tzitzit and all the commandments of Torah we do them and not just study about them. As a Jew, I am proud to know that you can search the web and find thousands of websites that tell you about Judaism but in this weeks Torah portion I find a promise that moves me and motivates me to be Jewish.
Bring A Gift
All the chapters on the Mishkan are not about learning how they really are speaking about “someone to come” as you will find on the web. (Just look it up and you will see what I mean. Everything is defined by those who are not Jewish.)
But it is about how I can keep the religion of my forefathers and pass this knowledge down to my children. How they can read about the Mishkan and live every word of it each day of there lives. Our sages in their great wisdom incorporated all the rituals of the fifty chapters on the tabernacle in our Synogagues and our prayers and our homes and our daily lives so that I might live the Torah and keep Hashem’s covenant and His promise to us.
Hashem’s lives inside every Jew and every Human being
Okay, if Hashem lives inside of every human being, what tasks do the Jewish people have?
To live the Torah.
Shemot 25:8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in them.
Here we see the wisdom and beauty of Judaism. Every part of our lives is fixed in time to be a sanctuary for Hashem.
No other people in the world can make this claim. No other people have ever experienced what the Jewish people have experienced.
Just ask Hashem and He will tell you.
Devarim 4:32For ask now of the days past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one end of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? 33Did ever a people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? 34Or hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before thine eyes? 35Unto thee it was shown, that thou mightiest know that the LORD, He is God; there is none else beside Him. 36Out of heaven He made thee to hear His voice, that He might instruct thee; and upon earth He made thee to see His great fire; and thou didst hear His words out of the midst of the fire. 37And because He loved thy fathers, and chose their seed after them, and brought thee out with His presence, with His great power, out of Egypt, 38to drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day; 39know this day, and lay it to thy heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else. 40And thou shalt keep His statutes, and His commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.
Published on Dec 30, 2017
Published on Dec 31, 2017
Exodus 1 – 6
א וְאֵ֗לֶּה שְׁמוֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל הַבָּאִ֖ים מִצְרָ֑יְמָה אֵ֣ת יַעֲקֹ֔ב אִ֥ישׁ וּבֵית֖וֹ בָּֽאוּ׃
ברְאוּבֵ֣ן שִׁמְע֔וֹן לֵוִ֖י וִיהוּדָֽה׃
ג יִשָּׂשכָ֥ר זְבוּלֻ֖ן וּבְנְיָמִֽן׃
ד דָּ֥ן וְנַפְתָּלִ֖י גָּ֥ד וְאָשֵֽׁר׃
My thoughts this week in the Torah Portion comes from a lecture I heard from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks where he states ”
Where is Chanukah in the Torah? (see commentary at the end of the article).
Why do Sephardic Jews and Ashkenazi and all other Jews treat each other with such disdain?
Where is the Beit Hamikdash?
Is Yerushalayim the light to all nations?
And he (Israel) settled in the end. (וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב יַעֲקֹ֔ב)
The Torah is a blueprint for the cosmos and our world. With Chanukah just a week away. The question may be asked? Who will we be fighting in the future to free our spiritual lives? Yaakov wrestled with a man. (Himself)
Just as the Greeks tried to remove our spiritual connections to Hashem and His Torah. So, the world is busy trying to distract us from our heritage and culture as Jews.
How do we bring the light of Judaism to a world that is steeped in darkness when we as Jews continue to hate each other without a cause.
The story of Yosef is the axis for many of our pains as Jews. Today we fight between Ashkenazi and Sephardic and the many different sects within our Jewish communities.
Will our enemies ask us, when they try to destroy us, are your Sephardic or Haredi or Mizrachi, conservative or reform?
Please listen to the song “Echad”.
We, are Klal Israel, and we must make Tikkun in the end where our forefathers failed. We can not settle in the end, the way our Torah portion begins with baseless hatred for each other.
Jews must be that shining light to the nations and bring them close to Torah and Hashem. We must teach them, that, Torah is the only blueprint that Hashem has given to mankind to fix our lives.
We do not need some “heavenly escape plan” as some outside of Torah Judaism say, but we must see that our world can not survive with each one us only concerned about him or herself. We must stop this baseless hatred and bring the miracle of Or HaGanuz, “the hidden light.”
So, let us rededicate ourselves, to this hidden light, that was always there from the beginning. Let us light the light of Chanukah as we are told in Vayikra 24:”1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 ‘Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually. 3 Without the veil of the testimony, in the tent of meeting, shall Aaron order it from evening to morning before the LORD continually; it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations. 4 He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually.
(By the way what festival comes after Sukkot? Chanukah)
Let us settle, Chanukah/Dedication, in the end with giving (אהבה). Love and Torah.
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 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
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