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

Rosh Hashanah starts tonight.  And so begins the thirteenth year of Torah Portion Humor (I’d really like a better name for it).  YAY!!

Ahem.  Rosh Hashanah starts tonight.   It’s not really like the other Biblical major holidays.  There’s little about it in the Torah except when it occurs, prescribed offerings, and blowing the shofar. Several years ago, Rabbi Neil Gillman wrote about the history of the holiday, “The Enigma ofRosh Hashanah,” but the link I had for it is dead.  It has many names:  Head of the Year, Day of Judgement, Day of Blowing the Shofar, Day  of Remembrance, birthday of the world.  (And in our time, Day of seeing everyone whom you haven’t seen in the synagogue since last Yom Kippur.)  Lots of grandeur and a really long Musaf service because of the Malchuyot (Kingship), Zichronot (Remembrance), and Shofarot (duh) verses, not to mention blowing the shofar.  But encompassing this is the theme of repentance for sins committed in 5771and being written in the Book of Life for 5772, which requires intimate, very personal introspection.  In the Tashlich ceremony, we each toss bread crumbs into flowing water as a symbol of ridding ourselves of our individual sins. The Torah and Haftarah readings are also intimate in tone, except for the obligatory reading about the obligatory sacrifices (Numbers 29:1-6).  In Genesis 21:1-34 and 22:1-24, we read of Isaac’s birth, the exile of Hagar and Ishmael, and the near-sacrifice of Isaac (whence the ram’s horn as shofar).  In the Haftarot, Hannah prays for a child (I Samuel 1:1 – 2:10) and Rachel weeps for her exiled children (Jeremiah 31:2-20).  In addition to the shofar, symbols included apple dipped in honey and round challah, for a sweet and whole year.

Rosh Hashanah starts the Ten Days of Penitence leading to Yom Kippur.  Next up:  Shabbat Shuvah (sabbath of return or repentance). There’s a special haftarah from three prophets on that theme (two for Sephardim):  Hosea (14:2-10), Micah (7:18-20), and  Joel (2:15-27), with minor variations. Before we decided rabbis should act like Protestant ministers in the US and preach every week, Shabbat Shuvah was one of the two times during the year when the rabbi gave a sermon; the other was Shabbat HaGadol and typically dealt with the laws of Passover, so my guess is that the Shabbat Shuvah one was closer to what we would consider a “sermon.”  The regular Torah portion, Ha’azinu, is read.  Remember last week when Moses was told to write a song and teach it to the people to impress on them the need to heed the Lord’s teachings when they are in the Promised Land?  Ha’azinu includes a 43-verse poem that apparently is that song, though some are of the opinion that the entire Torah itself is the song.  At the end of Ha’azinu, Moses prepares for his passing.

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

The Rosh Hashana Drinking Game [selected]

by seth Posted: 09-16-2008(Viewed 1508 times) [abridged]

For those of us who are dreading going to shul for the high holidays, have no connection to Judaism and the elaborate davening, can’t stand seeing the faces of your past that sit near you every year, and count the minutes until shul is over. Why not play the drinking game? Cause as they say in Kiddush club, Shul is much funner when you are drunk.

Just follow the guide below, and you’ll be having more fun than a chazan at a cantor’s convention:

Take three sips every time… You are greeted with the full “L’shana tova v’ticatav blah blah…”  and you try mumbling a similar response

Take one sip every time… the rabbi makes a sports analogy to the high holidays (bottom of 9th etc)

Take two sips every time… The page-changer gets the page wrong, and someone embarrasses him in public

Take one sip every time… The old guy behind you shushs you.

Take one sip every time… you have no clue of the person’s name of the guy next to you.

Take two sips for every time
…someone mentions from the pulpit the rising ‘air conditioning costs to the shul’  

Take one sip every time…a baby starts crying during shofar blowing

Take three sips every time…a frenemy shows up with their parents, you’ve been avoiding them for 5 years.  Extra sip if you make eye contact

Take two sips every time… A high-school friend appears.

Take three sips... if that friend dyed their hair and has an awesome nose-ring.

Take four sips… if that friend is too frum to talk to you.

Take five sips… when someone mentions the shidduch [matchmaking] crisis and eyeballs you.

Take two sips every time… people start mumbling “Yihi Ratzon” before the shofar blowing is even over

Take three sips if… The Gabbai yells at someone for not open the ark and closing it at the exact correct moment

Take five sips… when the rabbi “thanks the gabbaim”

Finish your beer if
… The Rabbi manages to speak under forty-five minutes

Top Ten Reasons, Beyond Koved [honor], To Learn Tekiat HaShofar [shofar blowing]
by avrum Posted: 09-04-2007(Viewed 1318 times)
10. Can be used instead of dinner bell at the campus Hillel
9. Effective way to hail a cab
8. Drowns out the sound of the muezzin at the local mosque
7. Serenade your girlfriend
6. Works better than shouting “fore” on the golf course
5. Adequate musical replacement for ill jug band players
4. Good for sounding alarm while serving with local Shomrim anti-crime group
3. Lead cheers at Mets games
2. Can be used to announce arrival of (another!) presidential candidate to the neighborhood
1. Impresses the shayna maydels [pretty girls] !

Some of My Own Rosh Hashanah Memories [IGP]

Trying to mix honey in or on everything I ate, at least at breakfast.

My grandmother’s meat kreplach soup.

My senior year in high school, when the Philadelphia public schools started closing for the High Holy Days (Yom Kippur and both days of Rosh Hashanah).

Coming home during my first year of college and chanting the 2nd day haftarah at Beth Am Israel.

Being annoyed every year for many years when the rabbi, whoever it was at the time, made a big fuss over the Malchuyot, Zichronot, and Shofarot verses and then cut at least half of them.

Being really surprised when I came to Wilmington at how many only observed one day of Rosh Hashanah.

Chanting the first day haftarah, about the birth of Samuel, while pregnant with my first child.

Not chanting anything on Rosh Hashanah because of the very recent birth of my second child.

Being the only one in the family who can’t blow a shofar.

Leading part of the shacharit service on about three days’ notice (thanks for the tape, Judy!).

Singing in the choir and trying to reconcile the written music with how people actually sang.

The year the synagogue had a new, young rabbi and the robe provided was at least 1½ feet too short. And he gave a marvelous sermon that somehow incorporated old socks and tee-shirts in “cardboard coffins” and Martin Buber’s “I and Thou” philosophy.

The year the Brandywine School District delayed the opening of school for two days because of Rosh Hashanah.

The year our cat, a favorite of my son, died on the first day, two days after my son’s birthday and two weeks before his Bar Mitzvah.

Family dinner at my mother’s at the end of the first day, until the last few years.


Royal jokes

Q: Why did the king go to the dentist?
A: To get his teeth crowned.

Q: Have you ever seen a Duchess?
A: Yes–it’s the same as an English “s”.

Q: There are many castles in the world, but who is strong enough to move one?
A: Any chess player

Q. What king of medieval England was famous because he spent so many nights at his Round Table writing books?
A. King Author!

Q: How do you find a princess?
A: You follow the foot prince.

Q: Why did Arthur have a round table?
A: So no one could corner him!

Q: Who invented King Arthur’s round table?
A: Sir Cumference!

Q: What was Camelot ?
A: A place where people parked their camels!

Q: What was Camelot famous for?
A: It’s knight life!

Q: Where did knights learn to kill dragons?
A: At knight school!


On Repentance

Repentance is good, but innocence better


Nothing spoils a confession like repentance
         Anatole France quotes (FrenchWriter, member of the French Academy and Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921, 18441924)

Richer is one hour of repentance and good works in this world than all of life of the world to come; and richer is one hour’s calm of spirit in the world to come than all of life of this world

        ~The Talmud

Our repentance is not so much regret for the ill we have done as fear of the ill that may happen to us in consequence
         François de la Rochefoucauld quotes (French classical author, leading exponent of the Maxime, 16131680)

Of all acts of man repentance is the most divine. The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.
         Thomas Carlyle quotes (ScottishHistorian and Essayist, leading figure in the Victorian era. 17951881)


Bread crumbs

A duck walks into a bar and asks the bartender:  “You got any bread crumbs?”

Bartender says, “No.”

Duck asks again, “You got any bread crumbs?”

Bartender says, “No.”

Duck asks again, “You got any bread crumbs?”

Bartender, getting flustered, says, “No.”

Duck asks again, “You got any bread crumbs?”

Bartender, mad, says: “Listen here, duck, you ask me one more time if I have any bread crumbs, and I’ll nail your bill to the bar!”

Duck asks, “You got any nails?”

Bartender says, “No.”

Duck asks, “You got any bread crumbs?”

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