According to Jewish tradition, this Monday, Rosh Hashana, the world will be 5773 years old. This claim easily stirs up sharp debate. How, it is often asked, can one say that the world is only 5773 years old when carbon dating records certain fossils as being millions of years old? Science and religion often seem in conflict with one another, but only at first glance.
n Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashana has several names that can help us understand the importance and power of this holiday.
In addition to the unique prayer services of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the High Holidays are known for one other service: selichot. A collection of religious poems and verses, selichot are penitential prayers that help one focus on the mood of the season.
Well sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…Alas, this ship’s tale is no three-hour tour, but the story of the birth of Jewish life in North America.
On Rosh Hashana we declare: “Repentance, prayer and charity remove the evil of the decree!” In Hebrew, these constitute the 3 Ts: Teshuva, Tefila and Tzedaka.
An ancient Jewish proverb declares: “Loose tongues are worse than wicked hands.”
Born to aged parents (Sarah was 90, Abraham was 100), Isaac was Abraham’s sole heir. This meant more than inheriting his wealth, it meant becoming the leading advocate of monotheism. Unlike his father, however, Isaac was not an outgoing “people-person.” Isaac was a more reserved personality who served God with gevurah, inner-strength, and spent his time studying and serving God.
The standard pre-Rosh Hashana greeting of “K’tiva v’chatima tova” (“May you be written and sealed for good”) is deduced from a Talmudic discussion concerning the three heavenly books that are opened during the High Holidays.
Labor celebrations have taken place throughout North America since the 1880s, and Labor Day became an official U.S. holiday in 1894. As students of history are well aware, in the decades surrounding the start of the 20th century the working class that emerged from the Industrial Revolution fought to be treated fairly.
What are you doing this weekend? Actually, most people take their weekends for granted and forget that the five day work week was a victory won by the labor movement of the early twentieth century, with rabbinical organizations as their partners.