a different side of Israel

Tag: Rosh Hashanah


According to the Mishnah, or the Oral Torah:

There are four New Years: on the first of Nisan the New Year for kings and for festivals; on the first of Elul the New Year for the tithe of animals. Rabbi Eleazar and Rabbi Shimon say, on the first of Tishrei: on the first of Tishrei the New Year for years and for the shemittin and for the Yovalot, for the planting and for the vegetables; on the first of Shevat the New Year for the tree, according to Bet Shammai. Bet Hillel says, on the fifteenth thereof.

ShofarWell Rosh Hashanah, the first day of Tishrei, the New Year for years is what I would like to talk about today.

This is not just a time to rejoice and give Rosh Hashanah Gifts, it is also a time to look around us and see the renewal of the world, humanity, nature, the body, the soul.

Rosh HaShanah is the anniversary of the Creation of the Universe.

One symbol of this Holiest of all days is the Shofar, which is really a trumpet made from the horn of ram.

In synagogue on Rosh Hashanah it is blown to the following pattern:

Tekiah – one long and straight blast
Shevarim – three medium, blasts
Teruah – nine staccato blasts in

According to Rabbi Shraga Simmons:

In Jewish tradition, a king is first and foremost a servant of the people. His only concern is that the people live in happiness and harmony. His decrees and laws are only for the good of the people, not for himself. (see Maimonides, Laws of Kings 2:6)
The object of Rosh Hashana is to crown God as our King. Tekiah — the long, straight shofar blast — is the sound of the King’s coronation. In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s first act was to proclaim God as King. And now, the shofar proclaims to ourselves and to the world: God is our King. We set our values straight and return to the reality of God as the One Who runs the world… guiding history, moving mountains, and caring for each and every human being individually and personally.


When we think about the year gone by, we know deep down that we’ve failed to live up to our full potential. In the coming year, we yearn not to waste that opportunity ever again. The Kabbalists say that Shevarim — three medium, wailing blasts — is the sobbing cry of a Jewish heart — yearning to connect, to grow, to achieve.


On Rosh Hashana, we need to wake up and be honest and objective about our lives: Who we are, where we’ve been, and which direction we’re headed. The Teruah sound — 9 quick blasts in short succession — resembles an alarm clock, arousing us from our spiritual slumber. The shofar brings clarity, alertness, and focus.
The Talmud says:

“When there’s judgement from below, there’s no need for judgement from above.”

What this means is that if we take the time to construct a sincere, realistic model of how we’ve fallen short in the past, and what we expect to change in the future, then God doesn’t need to “wake us up” to what we already know.

shana tova, happy and sweet new year

Shana Tova with Oprah

This was in Chicago a little while ago and I thought it was a nice Shana Tova greeting (don’t ask me why…)
SO, Shana Tova and Gmar Hatima Tova!

Shana Tova and Gmar Chatima Tova

It’s dimming earlier these days; wind is getting stronger. Yes, it’s autumn again, and the air conditioner is no longer a man’s best friend.

In short, a new year is upon us, and I want to wish you all a Shana Tova (Happy new year) and Gmar Chatima Tova (May you be inscribed in the book of life)!

What have we seen this past year?
  • A raging march of corruption allegations sprouting from within government corridors. Yes, former Minister of Finance stole millions of Shekels from Holocaust survivors. Yes, yet another Prime Minister is knotted up to his head with police investigations. Yes, Minister of Justice (a dear friend of these aforementioned politicians) is crusading in an attempt to crush the legislative authority’s independance.
  • Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, American Mutual – big names that have become empty vessels. The beginning of the end of the Capitalistic age? It’s too soon to tell. However, one thing has become clear, as newsman Yaron London said yesterday: “People start to realize that Economy is not a distinct science; Economy is the very heart of politics.”
  • Three children, in three separate families, were murdered by their parents this past summer in our tiny piece of land. In a country that doesn’t seem to give a damn about its social infrastructure, this — sadly — doesn’t come as a surprise.
  • Shahar Tzuberi made us all proud this September when he won the only Israeli medal at the Beijing Summer Olympics. With his modest look and his unrelenting motivation, he proves yet again that Water Sports are gathering momentum in Israel… Splash!

Gmar Chatima Tova

And what may lay down the road?
  • Tzipi Livni may become Israel’s second female Prime Minister, just in time to (presumably) greet America’s first black president.
  • The tumbling economy is raising Anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States, reminiscent of 1929.
  • Municipal elections in November are raising much public attention, with both Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv displaying an intriguing line of candidates. Will Dov Khenin live up to his hype? Will Arieh Deri somehow storm his way back into the center of the political stage, after spending several years in the confiding comfort of a jail cell? Will the Ussishkin Arena ever get rebuilt?
  • Abu Mazen is ending his four years in office this coming January, opening the door for a Hamas-controlled West Bank.
Bottom Line

We have much to lose and much to gain. Emotions are running high, and I think that’s a good thing — We are finally stepping out of our long-embedded apathy. The world is changing before our eyes, and in this Internet-entwined culture of ours, the man in the street has never been so influential before.

Take care and enjoy this holiday season!

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