Rosh Hashanah, Ha’azinu (Deut. 32:1-52), Shabbat Shuvah

And now we begin the 12th (!!!) year of Torah Portion Humor!

I have felt particularly discombobulated recently. First, since I have finally internally accepted not being on an academic schedule, the seasons just kind of merge into each other for me, except for the weather.  People ask me “How was your summer?” and I reply, “Same as the rest of the year, only hotter and a little quieter.”  I no longer feel the clear demarkation, a sense of newness, when September comes, and I wonder what everyone else is fussing about.  Then, with Labor Day this week, I keep thinking it’s only Tuesday instead of Wednesday.  And then there’s my new habit of occasionally watching the beginning of a show or movie on TV only after seeing the rest of it.  This happens because I tune in 5 or 10 minutes late and then usually find a way to catch the beginning afterwards (DVR, online, On Demand), so the beginning seems like either a prequel or an explanatory epilogue.  So it’s no wonder this week’s goings on, with their mixture of endings and beginnings, fits in with my current temporal disorientation.  Tonight, of course, Rosh Hashanah begins.   I had intended to read a book of high holiday readings called “Beginning Anew” but only read part of one.    

I am hoping that the distinctive rituals, foods, and readings associated with the High Holy Days will clear my head.  Food is always a biggie.  I still remember my grandmother’s kreplach soup of so many years ago.   I made rice kugel last night, but I forgot about getting a round, and preferably raisin, challah.  My husband will get one, he’s already bought honey and apples, and he’s making the rest of the dinner. Yum! (Thanks, Rich!).  I also hope to get re-oriented by the distinctive melodies for the prayers and Torah readings (my husband is reading the second day); the shofar blowing; and the Tashlich ritual, in which we symbolically cast away sins by tossing bread crumbs into flowing water (sort of like getting rid of chometz for Passover).  The Rosh Hashanah Torah readings from Genesis (21:1-34 and 22:1-24) are not chosen for their grandeur.  They are family stories: the birth of Isaac, the exile of Hagar and Ishmael, and the near-sacrifice of Isaac (OK, so it’s a dysfunctional family).  The haftarot are similarly intimate in scale, Hannah’s prayers for a child (I Samuel 1:1 – 2:10) and Jeremiah’s imagery of Rachel weeping for her children (Jeremiah 31:2-20).  And we mustn’t forget the obligatory reading about the obligatory sacrifices (though we may want to…), Numbers 29:1-6.

So much for Thursday and Friday.  This Shabbat is Shabbat Shuvah (sabbath of return or repentance); there’s no extra Torah reading, but there is a special haftarah from three prophets on that theme (unless you’re Sephardic and stop after Micah):  Hosea (14:2-10), Micah (7:18-20), and  Joel (2:15-27).  I believe there are other variations as well.   Long ago, Shabbat Shuvah was also one of the two times during the year when the rabbi gave a sermon.  The regular Torah portion, Ha’azinu, contains a long (43 verses) poem/song which is intended to impress on the Israelites that they need to be faithful to the Lord’s teachings when they are in the Promised Land.  It also includes Moses’s final orders: It’s time for him to climb Mt. Nebo, look at the Promised Land, and “be gathered to his kin.”

L’shana tovah um’tukah (a good and sweet year) and an early Shabbat Shalom to you all,

I wrote this 12 years ago and last sent it out four years ago.  

Rosh Hashanah Haiku

Round raisin challah
Rests under embroidered cloth,
Calm and expectant.

Apple and honey, 
Round, sweet foods entice and soothe.
The new year awaits.

Ancient prayers and new,
Seedlings of inspiration
Take root in our souls.

Hope personified
Stands on the bimah.  White robes, 
A new beginning.
[I do not own an iPhone or iPod, but for those who do…IGP]

Free SHOFAR iPhone App
by barry schwartz Posted: 09-15-2009(Viewed 1030 times)

Wanna hear a shevarim, tekia, shevarim? There’s an app for that!
Nothing like getting into the Days of Awe with a sweet gadget to bring home to the family. Also if you get in a jam and you can’t get your shofar sound out and 500 people are waiting for you, could be a great backup plan.

 If you have a Jewish iPhone App – send them to us! For this one you can touch the Shofar sound you want to hear, i.e. Tekiah, Shavarim, Teruah or Tekiah Gedolah and listen to a Baal Tokea go off!

Love it!

Bread Maker Dies

        Veteran Pillsbury spokesman Pop N. Fresh died yesterday of a severe yeast infection. He was 71.
       Known to friends as Brown-n-Serve, Fresh was an avid gardener and tennis player. Fresh was buried in one of the largest funeral ceremonies in recent years.
       Dozens of celebrities turned out including Mrs. Butterworth, the California Raisins, Hungry Jack, Aunt Jemima, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Skippy. The graveside was piled high with flours as longtime friend Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy, describing Fresh as a man who “never knew how much he was kneaded.”
       Fresh rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with many turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes — conned by those who buttered him up.
       Still, even as a crusty old man, he was a roll model for millions. Fresh is survived by his second wife. They have two children and another bun in the oven. The funeral was held at 350 for about 20 minutes.


Food Suggestions for Rosh Hashanah [abridged]

        All of our readers are, no doubt, familiar with the Rosh Hashanah custom of eating an apple dipped in honey and other symbolic foods that express our wishes for the New Year. On a recent trip to the grocery store, just for fun, I wondered what foods we should or should not eat today to express similar hopes for the future.
       First, I think we should eat things that imply happiness, sweetness and prosperity – like Cheerios, honeydew, plums and Cream of Wheat (see Psalm 81:17). To promote tolerance among Jews, we should drink orange juice, grape juice and apple juice. To stress unity, we ought to eat things that stick together, like macaroni and cheese, and peanut butter. To remind us of the need for love and good will, let’s have Hershey’s kisses and Life Savers.
       We should avoid eating anything that sounds violent: no cereal that has the words “Smacks” or “Pops” in their titles, no artichokes, no squash and no Bazooka gum. Also, nothing that sounds meshuggah, like flakes, bananas, or fruit cake. And definitely no bologna!

Sermon Jokes

A preacher was completing a temperance sermon: with great expression he said, “If I had all the beer in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.”
With even greater emphasis, he said, “And if I had all the wine in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.”
And then, finally, he said, “And if I had all the whiskey in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.” He sat down.
The song leader then stood very cautiously and announced with a pleasant smile, “For our closing song, let us sing Hymn #365: ‘Shall We Gather At the River.'”

Little Susie was watching her father, a pastor, write a sermon.
“How do you know what to say?” she asked.
“Why, God tells me.”
“Oh, then why do you keep crossing things out?”

Sent out in 2000, now available at

Top 15 Jewish Country-Western Songs

1. “I Was One of the Chosen People (‘Til She Chose Somebody Else)”
2. “Honkey Tonk Nights on the Golan Heights”
3. “I’ve Got My Foot On The Glass, Where Are You? “
4. “My Rowdy Friend Elijah’s Comin’ Over Tonight”
5. “New Bottle of Whiskey, Same Old Testament”
6. “Stand by Your Mensch”
7. “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Latkes”
8. “I Balanced Your Books, but You’re Breaking My Heart”
9. “My Darlin’s a Schmendrick and I’m All Verklempt”
10. “That Shiksa Done Made off with My Heart Like a Goniff”
11. “The Second Time She Said ‘Shalom’, I Knew She Meant ‘Goodbye'”
12. “You’re the Lox My Bagel’s Been Missin'”
13. “You’ve Been Talkin’ Hebrew in Your Sleep Since that Rabbi Came to Town”
14. “Why Don’t We Get Drunk – We’re Jews!”
15. “Mamas Don’t Let Your Ungrateful Sons Grow Up to Be Cowboys (When
They Could Very Easily Have Just Taken Over the
Family Hardware Business that My Own Grandfather Broke
 His Back to Start and My Father Sweated Over for Years Which
Apparently Doesn’t Mean Anything Now That You’re Turning Your
Back on Such a Gift)

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