Jewish New Year Wake up and smell the coffee! A precious gift – the opportunity to do tshuva (repentance).
The Sabbath (Shabbat) between Rosh Hashanah- the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur is traditionally called Shabbat Shuvah, (Sabbath of Return) due to the special Torah portion that is read. The ominous beginning words Shuvah Yisrael “Return O Israel”, from the prophecy of Hoshea. It is also referred to as Shabbat Shuvah because it falls during the Ten Days of Repentance.
The ten days of repentance is a gift we receive from the Almighty G-D to give us the opportunity to repent in prayer, good deeds and charity. G-D made a promise with the forefathers thousands of years ago, and throughout history the Jewish people have sinned many times and still G-D gives us the opportunity personally and communally to repent with sincerity.
As we all take this solemn critical period to self improve ourselves may we comprehend how each one of us is a part of a very special nation. The nation of Israel was given the Torah and the land of Israel. The gifts we were given were vast and valued. May we merit during the days of awe to really heed the Shofar and truly repent and return to G-D.
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Count Down to the Big Day?
Rosh Hashanah thoughts…….
Which day? To Rosh Hashanah 2010. During retail winter season we see in the news how many “shopping days left until the holidays”. During the Rosh Hashanah season we have the top 5 spiritual preparations and coordinating top 5 purchase items to prepare for a Sweet Jewish New Year.
Rosh Hashanah is welcomed by the lighting of the holiday candles, prayer service men don a tallit and Kippah and a Rosh Hashanah celebratory meal is started with Kiddush.
- Add a set of adorable Pomegranate candle sticks to your Rosh Hashanah theme.
- Choose a tallit to celebrate and enhance the spirituality of the Jewish New Year prayer service.
- Add a matching Kippah or choose from a huge selection of Kippot.
- Adorn your holiday table with a flowing wine fountain Kiddush set.
- Select from the many types of kosher wines available at www.Jjudaica.com
Have a very Happy and Sweet Jewish New Year.
Judaism greatest and mightiest leader spoke to the Jewish nation.
The past week here in Israel (week of August 21, 2010) has reached peak temperatures that have not been seen since maybe the days of great leader Moses. Feeling the intense heat and humidity we can maybe relate to how arduous life was for the Jewish people in the desert. Yet to the heat there is an end; a break in the extreme high temperature. As to Bnai Yisrael The Jewish people are about to be reminded as to the woes they endured in the desert and to the wondrous blessings to come.
The greatest biblical (Torah) leader in Jewish history was Moses (Moshe). In Parsha Ki Tavo Moshe directed the nation’s attention to the realities of what it meant to live in the land of Israel.
The parsha has many topics that are relevant until today first fruits and donating at least 10% of one’s earnings to the poor. Both topics are special affirmation of G-D’s mastery over the land, and man’s responsibility to keep the commandments of G-D.
Moshe reiterates to the Jewish nation that Israel (Jewish nation) is to keep the Torah and G-D guarantees us praise and true blessings for accepting the status “highest of all the nations”. (26:19) Upon crossing the Jordon, the Jewish Nation will publicly declare its affirmation of G-D’s covenant by: inscribing the Torah upon twelve stones; building them as a monument; and the ceremony of blessings and curses that is to take place between the opposing mountains, Grizim and Ayval. Moshe continues to remind the Jewish Nation of all the wondrous miracles G-D has performed over the past forty years. Moshe realizes the Jewish nation may be apprehensive to the future and reminds them that G-D stood with the Jewish people in the past, present and the future.
Health professionals truly believe and recommend possible medial improvements by drinking a cup of Pomegranate fruit juice each day. Pomegranates may assist in health factors such as; diabetes, common cold, heart disease, prostate cancer, reductions in melanomas and so much more. Opening a Pomegranate may be tricky. Sliced in half Pomegranate should be placed in cold water. The Pomegranate then should easy to handle.
In 2010 there were 23 clinical tests for Pomegranate’s benefits that were processed and registered with the National Institute of Health. Pomegranate’s benefits were performed to see substantiate potential benefits in the areas of prostate cancer, diabetes and the common cold. Why the hype, the attraction and need to write and investigate the Pomegranate fruit? Hopefully Pomegranate’s benefits will be officially confirmed in the near future.
A custom among small children in Israel and throughout the world of Hebrew school or Jewish day schools is the counting of the “Rimon” or Pomegranate. The Torah or Holy Bible has 613 commandments or good deeds. Teachers and parents encourage Pre-school age children to count the seeds in Pomegranate. To see if anyone can find a Pomegranate with 613 seeds to correlate to the 613 commandments. A 613 seeded Pomegranate has yet to be found, but the challenge is symbolic to show the importance of this lucky talisman of good luck.
Luck, mystics, amulet, good luck charm are a central theme among artists in Israel and the Middle East. Why? Pomegranates are rumored to bring fertility, health and endless luck.
Most homes throughout Greece, Middle East and Israel have multiple Pomegranate items adorning the walls, Pomegranate earnings, Pomegranate necklaces hanging Pomegranate amulets in a car, Pomegranate candle sticks and Pomegranate Kiddush cups. Happy Sweet Jewish New Year (Shana Tova)from (www.JJudaica.com).
Returning Objects to their Rightful owners
“If you see another person’s animal, you shall not hide from it; you must return it to the owner. If the owner is not known to you, then you should bring the object into your house, where it shall remain until the owner inquires after it, and you will return it to him. So shall you do for his donkey, his garment, or any lost article that you may find…” (Deut. 22:1-3)
Traveling by bus this week to Jerusalem I met a charming older lady “Esti” and started a conversation Esti was accompanied by her two stunning granddaughters age 8 & 6. The granddaughters started telling me they were on their way to meet the head bus manager for the buses. They explained that an hour ago their grandmother “Esti” forgot her pocketbook on the bus. Esti explained to the bus depot manager what happened. He quickly called the driver to stop and inspect the bus. The Driver – Yossi, said “Betach” –“Sure it’s here”. Yossi said he would be returning to the station within two hours and Esti can come and get the bag after a quick identification to what’s in the bag.
This heartwarming and happy tale coincides with this weeks Parsha Ki Teitzei theme of returning lost objects to their owners. This weeks Parsha – Torah portion Ki Teitzei is packed with over twenty themes. The mitzvah- good deed to return lost objects is one that can be taught to young children and carried throughout life to help one another.
Jewish Torah law 613 commandments “mitzvoth” require one to find the rightful owner, not hide from finding the owner and actively seeking the owner through means of hanging signs, internet postings or even communal announcements.
When a person loses something, even a trivial item like a junk pair of sun glasses it causes some distress. Even more distressing is losing one’s wallet. Jewish law doesn’t subscribe to finders keepers losers weepers, the Torah actually rewards with a Mitzvah for finding the owners to a lost item.
Rosh Hashanah – The Jewish New Year is -September 8th, 2010 at sundown. Throughout the world there are many symbolic items to represent the Jewish New Year. Honey, Challah (sweet egg bread) and the thousands of year old Pomegranate fruit all some examples of nostalgic items that are eaten or blessed on the New Year. In addition to eating yummy Pomegranate fruits are the adorning of the home with Pomegranate’s. Pomegranate tradition has become a pivotal decorating device throughout the modern home in many Jewish homes. Pomegranate decorating is observed by all levels of religiosity and in homes of non observance. Pomegranate is truly a piece of wonderment and art.
The Pomegranate season has been used by many writers as a source of inspiration and motivation. Oscar Wilde A House of Pomegranates and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story The Pomegranate Seeds. Stories of hope, magical luck and possible “powers of protection” were written for the Pomegranate fruit. The earliest recorded writings for Pomegranate’s were written in the Bible – Exodus, describing Pomegranate adornments on the robe of the High Priest. Pomegranate are integral part of Middle Eastern culture.
Rosh Hashanah- “The Jewish New Year” and Kabbalah “time of spiritual awakening”.
Ashton Kutcher a Kabbalah follower visited Israel and attended the birthday bash for founder of the Kabbalah Jerusalem Center Rabbi Shraga Berg. Kutcher attended the party with fellow famous actors Bruce Wills, Demi Moore and daughter Scout Willis.
Kabbalah seems to be the 21st century new age movement for spiritual and personal growth. Kabbalah – The new age movement has reached over three million people worldwide. Hollywood actors have joined the Kabbalah new age movement including; Ashton Kutcher, Madonna, Donna Karen, Mick Jagger, Roseanne Barr, Rosie O’Donnell and Britney Spears.
Kabbalah is Hebrew for “that which was received” aims to help work on the inner workings of the soul and of the divine worlds. Kabbalah is being sought as a relationship builder to the Divine and within ones personal self. Kabbalah described as the enigmatic and mystical “learning’s” of the world. Kabbalah explores the nature of G-d and the universe. Traditionally Kabbalah could only be taught to Jewish men over 40 who had spent their lives studying Judaism. Kabbalah is now taught to men, women, young and old.
Kabbalah essentials include:
- Kabbalah Red strings bracelets
- Kabbalah necklaces for protection, wealth, love and health are the trendiest jewelry on college campuses and throughout Hollywood.
Rabbi Berg- the “birthday boy” started the center years ago with a perspective that Kabbalah was open for all regardless of social standing and could be taught simply. Kabbalah is based on the Zohar, an ancient text, intense and multifaceted, that contains a mystical debate of what G-D is. Rabbi Berg opened the Los Angeles Kabbalah center in 1984 and the parade of stars followed.
Kabbalah simply put is not a religion although more of a guide to real life questions. Why was I born? How can I be happier? How to achieve health? How to achieve wealth, personal contentment real pleasure and genuine happiness? Kabbalah is multi faceted and mysterious yet attainable. The many worldwide Kabbalah centers reach out to all those who embrace the divine in His 72 names and want to help those seeking life answers to life questions.
Anston Kutcher and his fellow Hollywood friends seem to agree there is something soothing, peaceful learning and practicing Kabbalah. Kabbalah seems to be heartening and cheering to all those reaching out to embrace the love and warmth Kabbalah offers. Mediation, prayer, charitable deeds and acts of kindness are some of the fundamental values. Strategically said the act of giving ones time at a children’s hospital can be felt ten fold back in good and happy vibes. Giving charity helps one to truly appreciate one’s talent and own materialistic accomplishment and not seek to be excessive.
Kabbalah mantra and principles are basic tents of those praying for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous Rosh Hashanah- Jewish New Year. Kabbalah centers will hold services for the Jewish New Year. Shofars and Pomegranate Talit will adorn the worshipers.
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Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) begins this year September 8th 2010. Rosh Hashanah is observed for two days, and celebrated through rituals of challah and honey and the blowing of the Shofar. Rosh Hashanah is also one of the holiest days of the year. It is during Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur that we do extra good deeds, charity and prayer.
Rosh Hashanah is also traditionally observed as an edible delight. Ashkenazim and Sephardim Jews sit down to a blessing of food “Seder”. Rosh Hashanah gifts & items that will yield blessing of fertility , eating a pomegranate with 613 seeds so that we too may be as fertile as the many seeds. Part of the Rosh Hashanah “seder” is to eat a fish head, similarly we should be the head for the year and no the tail end! Rosh Hashanah has many edible traditions; some eat carrots to ward off our enemies. Some eat beets to beat our enemies away! Regardless of your personal traditional Rosh Hashanah is a sweet eating experience. Rosh Hashanah is a time for serious thought and prayer. Rosh Hashanah is observed with honey cakes, apple and honey and honey and challah. Rosh Hashanah we desire to begin with a sweet opening. Rosh Hashanah is awesome period for hope and change. Rosh Hashanah spiritually awakens our soul we remind ourselves of the importance of Rosh Hashanah via edible delights, Shofar and prayer
May this Rosh Hashanah year be the year of peace for Israel and all her inhabitants.
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Tashlich: The Cleansing Power of Water
One of my favorite Jewish rituals is the Tashlich service. Literally, the Hebrew word tashlich means “you will cast away.” During the course of this ritual, Jews cast all their sins into water, an element that is always considered to be spiritually pure. The tashlich service can be either individually or with a group. Ideally the ceremony should be performed on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (unless it falls on Shabbat, as it does this year). However, the ritual can be performed anytime from Rosh Hashanah until the last day of Sukkot.
The Practice of Tashlich
The Tashlich was put into practice during the Middle Ages. The idea originates from a verse from the book of the prophet Micha: “And You will cast into the depths of the sea all their sins.” Verses from Micha, along with other Psalms are read during the course of Tashlich. The service is performed beside a body of water. Generally, any form of running water will do. A person may even perform this ritual in front of running tap water. However, it is more ideal for the ceremony to be performed beside a body of water containing fish. Many people have the custom of casting bread crumbs into water while performing the ritual.
The Spiritual Aspect of Fish
Fish are considered to be some of the holiest animals. Tzaddikim, righteous people, are said to reincarnate as fish. Thus, we perform this ritual near fish so we can learn important spiritual lessons from them. First of all, we learn and pray to be surrounded and protected in purity, just as fish are surrounded by the purity of water. We also pray that, just as the fish always have their eyes open, G-d will vigilantly watch over us with both eyes focused on our paths. Also, just as fish who swim free can be suddenly caught by nets, we too can be suddenly caught by the net of sins.
Water in Judaism
In Judaism, water is so pure an element that nothing, even our darkest sins, can taint it. In the time of the temple, many spiritual rituals were related to water. Today, we can personally tap into the purifying power of water all throughout the year by making good use of Jewish customs. Since our goal as humans is to infuse the physical with spirituality, it is important that we use the power of water to spiritually purify our bodies as much as possible.
Ritual Hand Washing – Netilat Yadaim
In Jewish tradition, the practice of ritualistically washing hands with water is very important. A ritual hand washing cup is used for this purpose. After waking up in the morning and after every time a person goes to the bathroom, a person can ritualistically wash their hands and pronounce a special blessing. Also, every time a person is about to start a meal where bread is eaten, there is another way they can ritualistically wash their hands and make a blessing. Thus, simply by washing our hands with water (using hand washing cups), we can elevate ourselves and the most mundane actions we do!
Mikveh: The Ritual Bath
The purifying aspect of water is also practiced through the ritual of the mikveh. A mikveh is a ritual Jewish bath. It can either be a man made, halachicaly designed bath with fresh flowing rain water that trickles into it, or it can be a natural body of water such as a river, ocean, or lake. It is customary for women to bathe in the mikveh once a month, 7 days after they complete the menstruation process. It is also advised that men bathe in the mikveh throughout the month, as much as possible. Mikveh baths are customarily taken before holy days, such as Shabbat. Prior to Yom Kippur, men and women both immerse in mikvehs, so as to spiritually cleanse themselves for the powerful day of cleansing that is to come.