There is a Torah commandment to guard our health. High levels of stress cause many health problems. Your immune system works best when you are calm and serene. The efforts one makes to alleviate stress is the fulfillment of the Creator's will. As our loving Father, He wants us to be well.
Viewing decreasing stress and increasing serenity as a spiritual obligation will raise this to a higher priority. Moreover, we should strive to experience joy in doing the Almighty's will (in Hebrew this is called Simcha shel mitzvah). This adds a major dimension to the entire process.
Monday and Tuesday are Rosh Hashanah. The sages teach us that who will live and who will die are determined on these days. G-d however helps those that help themselves. Make New Year resolutions to guard your health and have a healthier and happier 5779. I am working on my weight for the New Year and hope by the end of it with G-d's help and watching what I put into my mouth I will be nice and svelte by 5780.
Wednesday is the fast called Zom Gedilia. I have a piece on this below.
Love Yehuda Lave
I returned August 15 to Jerusalem after a 16 day absence from Israel. I visited over 100 synagogues, graves and holy spots throughout Czech and Vienna, along with castles and tourist spots. My friend the Cabalist, says like the Bal Shem Tov, I was gathering up the holy sparks of Jewishness that has been trapped there and bringing the spiritual energy back to Jerusalem. I hope I have accomplished that goal, but I know for sure that I brought back lots of pictures. There are too many to share at one time so I am trying something new and sharing them day by day as experienced with a 16 day delay. I will repeat this introduction each day. I have been studying Jewish history and Israel in my time in Jerusalem, but the history of the Jewish people in modern times from 1492 to 1945 was in central Europe where the majority of the Jewish people lived. It is worth studying and knowing about and by sharing it with you my friends, I hope I am expanding your knowledge as well.
Vienna Evening Walk along the Blue Danube and the Millinium Tower where we stated 081318
Most of the city of Vienna stretches along a cannel of the Blue Danube. The real Blue Danube is to the North a mile or so and is as powerful in spots as the Mississippi.
We stayed along its bangs for our final two nights in Vienna
Wrongdoers are referred to as having died even while they live (Berachos 18b).
Animals grow and develop until they reach physical maturity. Thereafter, animals do only those actions necessary to survive, but they do not grow significantly in any way.
Human beings are distinctly different. While they do stop growing at physical maturity, their minds have a limitless capacity to grow intellectually and spiritually. This difference leads to another. Animals survive by adapting themselves to the world, but human beings can change the world according to their desires.
We can thus subdivide human life into an animal-physical phase, where growth ends with physical maturity, and a human-intellectual/spiritual phase, which should continue as long as we live. If people neglect intellectual-spiritual growth and indulge only in physical needs and desires, their human phase of life has stopped growing and therefore has essentially died, and only the animal phase continues to live.
The Talmud's reference to wrongdoers is to those people who neglect their intellectual-spiritual growth and seek only to maintain their physical lives. They have therefore allowed their unique human aspect to die.
No self-respecting, rational people would ever degrade themselves to a subhuman existence. While we pray to God to grant us life, it is our task to make that life truly human.
Today I shall ... ...
try to realize that abandoning myself completely to actions that merely maintain my physical self is degrading, and I therefore shall take pride in being fully human.
What Is Rosh Hashanah? The Jewish New Year, anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, a day of judgment and coronation, and sounding of the shofar . . .
What: It is the birthday of the universe, the day G‑d created Adam and Eve, and it's celebrated as the head of the Jewish year.
When: The first two days of the Jewish new year, Tishrei 1 and 2, beginning at sundown on the eve of Tishrei 1. Rosh Hashanah 2018 begins at sundown on September 9 and continues through nightfall on September 11 (see more details here).
The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah actually means "Head of the Year." Just like the head controls the body, our actions on Rosh Hashanah have a tremendous impact on the rest of the year.
As we read in the Rosh Hashanah prayers, each year on this day "all inhabitants of the world pass before G‑d like a flock of sheep," and it is decreed in the heavenly court "who shall live, and who shall die ... who shall be impoverished and who shall be enriched; who shall fall and who shall rise."
It is a day of prayer, a time to ask the Almighty to grant us a year of peace, prosperity and blessing. But it is also a joyous day when we proclaim G‑d King of the Universe. The Kabbalists teach that the continued existence of the universe depends on G‑d's desire for a world, a desire that is renewed when we accept His kingship anew each year on Rosh Hashanah.
What's It Called?
● The most common name for this holiday is Rosh Hashanah, the name used in the eponymous tractate of Talmud devoted to the holiday.
● The Torah refers to this day as Yom Teruah (Day of Shofar Blowing).1
● In our prayers, we often call it Yom Hazikaron (Day of Remembrance) and Yom Hadin (Day of Judgement) since this is the day when G‑d recalls all of His creations and determines their fate for the year ahead.
● Together with Yom Kippur (which follows 10 days later), it is part of the Yamim Nora'im (Days of Awe, or: High Holidays).
First Priority: Hear the Shofar
The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram's horn, on both days of the holiday (except if the first day is Shabbat, in which case we blow the shofar only on the second day).
The first 30 blasts of the shofar are blown following the Torah reading during morning services, and as many as 70 additional are blown during (and immediately after) the Musafservice, adding up to 100 blasts over the course of the Rosh Hashanah morning services (some communities sound another round of 30 blasts after services as well). For someone who cannot come to synagogue, the shofar may be heard the rest of the day. If you cannot make it out of your home, please contact your closest Chabad center to see about arranging a "house call."
The shofar blowing contains a series of three types of blasts: tekiah, a long sob-like blast; shevarim, a series of three short wails; and teruah, at least nine piercing staccato bursts.
Greetings:On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, wish a male, "Leshanah tovah tikatev vetichatem;" for a female say,"Leshanah tovah tikatevee vetichatemee" ("May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year"). At other times, wish them a "Gemar chatimah tovah" ("A good inscription and sealing [in the Book of Life]"). (More on the Rosh Hashanah greetings here.)
Tashlich: On the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah (provided that it is not Shabbat), it is customary to go to a body of water (ocean, river, pond, etc.) and perform the Tashlich ceremony, in which we ceremonially cast our sins into the water. With this tradition we are symbolically evoking the verse, "And You shall cast their sins into the depths of the sea." The short prayer for this service can be found in your machzor.
Much of the day is spent in synagogue, where we pray that G‑d grant all of His creations a sweet new year. The evening and afternoon prayers are similar to the prayers said on a regular holiday. However, the morning services are significantly longer.
The holiday prayerbook—called a machzor—contains all the prayers and Torah readings for the entire day. The most significant addition is the shofar blowing ceremony. However, there are also other important elements of the prayer service that are unique to Rosh Hashanah.
The Torah is read on both mornings of Rosh Hashanah.
On the first day, we read about Isaac's birth and the subsequent banishment of Hagar and Ishmael.2 Appropriately, the reading is followed by a haftarah reading about the birth of Samuel the Prophet.3 Both readings contain the theme of prayers for children being answered, and both of these births took place on Rosh Hashanah.
On the second morning, we read about Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son Isaac.4 As mentioned above, the shofar blowing recalls the ram, which figures prominently in this story as a powerful display of Abraham's devotion to G‑d that has characterized His children ever since. The haftarah5 tells of G‑d's eternal love for His people.
The cantor's repetition of the Amidah (Silent Prayer) is peppered with piyyutim, poetic prayers that express our prayerful wishes for the year and other themes of the day. For certain selections, those deemed especially powerful, the ark is opened. Many of these additions are meant to be said responsively, as a joint effort between the prayer leader and the congregation.
Even without the added piyyutim, the Rosh Hashanah Musaf prayer is significantly longer than it is the rest of the year. This is because its single middle blessing is divided into three additional blessings, each focusing on another one of the holiday's main themes: G‑d's kingship, our wish that He "remember" us for the good, and the shofar. Each blessing contains a collage of Biblical verses that express its theme, and is then followed by a round of shofar blowing.
Rosh Hashanah Feasts
We eat festive meals every night and day of the holiday. Like all other holiday meals, we begin by reciting kiddush over wine and then say the blessing over bread. But there are some important differences:
a. The bread (traditionally baked into round challah loaves, and often sprinkled with raisins) is dipped into honey instead of salt, expressing our wish for a sweet year. We do this on Rosh Hashanah, Shabbat Shuvah (the Shabbat before Yom Kippur), in the pre-Yom Kippur meal and during Sukkot.
b. Furthering the sweet theme, it is traditional to begin the meal on the first night with slices of apple dipped in honey. Before eating the apple, we make the ha'eitz blessing and then say, "May it be Your will to renew for us a good and sweet year."
c. Many people eat parts of the head of a fish or a ram, expressing the wish that "we be a head and not a tail."
d. In many communities, there are additional traditional foods eaten, each symbolizing a wish for the coming year. Many eat pomegranates, giving voice to a wish that "our merits be many like the [seeds of the] pomegranate." Another common food is tzimmes, a sweet carrot-based dish eaten because of its Yiddish name, merren, which means both "carrot" and "increase," symbolizing a wish for a year of abundance.
e. It is traditional to avoid nuts (here's why) as well as vinegar-based, sharp foods, most notably the horseradish traditionally eaten with gefilte fish, since we don't want a bitter year.
f. On the second night of the holiday, we do not eat the apples, fish heads, pomegranates, etc. However, before we break bread (and dip it in honey), we eat a "new fruit," something we have not tasted since the last time it was in season. (Read this blog post to learn the reason for the new fruit and the other traditional foods.)
Rosh Hashanah is the start of the Yamim Nora'im (High Holidays). The holy day of Yom Kippur when we gather in synagogue for 25 hours of fasting, prayer and inspiration, is just a week later. The days in between (known as the 10 Days of Repentance, or the Ten Days of Return) are an especially propitious time for teshuvah, returning to G‑d. Yom Kippur is followed by the joyous holidays of Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
The season of the High Holidays is a time for an epic journey for the soul, and Rosh Hashanah is where it all begins.
More Heads of the Year
Although this is the most famous Rosh Hashanah, the Mishnah actually lists four heads of the year. One is 1 Nissan, in the springtime month when we left egypt, and another is 15 Shevat, the New Year for Trees. And just to make things exciting, chassidic tradition celebrates 19 Kislev as the New Year for Chassidism.
When the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, he killed or exiled most of its inhabitants and appointed Gedaliah, son of Achikam, as governor of the now-Babylonian province of Judah. Many Jews who had fled to Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other neighboring lands returned to Judah, tended the vineyards again, and enjoyed a new respite after their earlier suffering.
However, Baalis, king of Ammon, was hostile and envious of the Judean remnant and sent a Judean, Yishmael Ben Netaniah, who was descended from the royal family of Judea, to assassinate Gedaliah. In the seventh month (Tishrei) of 582/1 BCE (some four to five years following the destruction of the Temple, although the exact year is unclear and subject to dispute; others claim the assassination took place in the same year as the destruction), a group of Jews led by Yishmael came to Gedaliah in the town of Mitzpa and were received cordially. Gedaliah had been warned of his guest's murderous intent, but refused to believe his informants, believing their report was mere slander. Yishmael murdered Gedaliah, together with most of the Jews who had joined him and many Babylonians whom the Babylonian King had left with Gedaliah. The remaining Jews feared the vengeance of the Babylonian King (in view of the fact that the King's chosen ruler, Gedaliah, had been killed by a Jew) and fled to Egypt.
But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldeans that were with him at Mitzpah.And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces, arose, and came to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.
A fuller account is in Jeremiah, chapter 41, where the murder of a group of envoys and the kidnapping of the gubernatorial staff and family are also related:
In the seventh month, Ishmael son of Nethaniah son of Elishama, of the royal family, one of the chief officers of the king, came with ten men to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, at Mizpah.As they ate bread together there at Mizpah, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and ten men with him got up and struck down Gedaliah son of Ahikam son Shaphan with the sword and killed him, because the king of Babylon had appointed him governor in the land.Ishmael also killed all the Judeans who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldean soldiers who happened to be there.In Josephus
The surviving remnant of Jews was thus dispersed and the land remained desolate. In remembrance of these tribulations, the Jewish sages instituted the 'Fast of the Seventh' (see Zechariah 8:19) on the day of Gedaliah's assassination in the seventh month.
The Bible does not specify on which day of the seventh month Gedaliah was killed. However, the Hebrew word hodesh can mean "new moon" as well as "month", suggesting that he was killed on the first of the month. According to the Talmud, Gedaliah was killed on the third of the month. Other sources suggest that Gedaliah was killed on the first of the month, but the fast is delayed until after Rosh Hashanah, since fasting is prohibited during a festival.
According to the Talmud, the aim of the fast day is "to establish that the death of the righteous is likened to the burning of the House of our God." Just as fasts were ordained to commemorate the destruction of the Jewish Temple, likewise a fast was ordained to commemorate the death of Gedaliah.
When Rosh Hashanah falls on Thursday and Friday, the fast is postponed until Sunday (which would be the fourth of Tishrei), since no public fast may be observed on Shabbat(Saturday) with the exception of Yom Kippur. That was most recently the case in 2017, and will next happen in 2024.
The fast is observed from dawn until dusk. As with regular fast days, the hazzan includes the prayer Aneinu in the repetition of the Amidah during Shacharit and Mincha as a separate Bracha between the prayers for redemption and healing, and in the private recitation of the Minchaamidah it is recited as an addition to Shema Koleinu (general prayer acceptance). The Avinu Malkeinu prayer is recited and as it is during the Ten Days of Repentance the additions reference the new year. A Torah scroll is taken from the ark and the passages of Ki Tissa are read from the Torah (Exodus 32:11–14 and 34:1–10). The same Torah reading is added at Mincha, followed in Ashkenazic congregations by a Haftarahreading. As the fast falls during the days of Penitence, the S'lichot prayer is recited before the start of Shacharit and incorporates also an extra paragraph relating to the Fast of Gedaliah. There is no Slichot service at the time of the repetition of the Amidah.
In the Spanish and Portuguese rite, the prayers are recited from the Book of Prayers for Fast Days. There are lengthy additions to the prayers that are not found in the daily and Sabbath siddur, and that are specific to the day as well as prayers that are common to all the fast days with the exception of Yom Kippur.