10/7 9:20 Hebrew, 10:00 Class
10/14 9:20 Hebrew, 10:00 Class
10/21 Sunday Speaker Series
10/28 9:20 Hebrew, 10:00 Class
10/3 School at 3, 4, & 5:00 pm
10/10 School at 3, 4, & 5:00 pm
10/17 School at 3, 4, & 5:00 pm
10/24 School at 3, 4, & 5:00 pm
10/31 School at 3, 4, & 5:00 pm
One tradition suggests that, in addition to hosting family and friends, we invite specific Jewish historical figures as Ushpizim (guests) to enter the sukkah with us: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. More recently, a novel invitation has gone out to Jewish historical women:Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca, Leah, Miriam, Abigail, and Esther. To add and extend this tradition, one exercise asks whom would you invite from history and why? Einstein? Picasso? Amelia Earhart? Such a personal review would possibly serve as a Rorschach to your soul and mind, a mirror into your heart as to where your interests now lie. No doubt I would invite Sigmund Freud. Quite possibly he would say “Rabbi, sometimes a mezuzah is just a mezuzah” disabusing me of my overwrought tendency to look for explanations when there is none. Or just maybe I would like to stand in the presence of Hannah Senesch, that brave paratrooper who returned to Hungary to save her fellow Jews; be awed by her spirit of devotion and her poetic achievements. Most notably among these and others would be Darwin whose revolutionary spirit and intellect paved a new way for beholding nature’s gifts;
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
So whom would you welcome into your sukkah?
It occurs to me that the gift of being Jewish is that of entertaining ambiguities such as I have hinted at above. For this reason and others our reform faith more than tends to be non-dogmatic. So I hope you enjoy these last days of the holiday month of Tishrei. For the month that follows Cheshvan is called Mar Cheshvan “Bitter Cheshvan!” as it is bereft of holidays save Shabbat and the New Moon. There is a beautiful custom among traditionalist to take a bit of wine from the Havdalah cup and paste it to one’s eyebrows. This symbolizes the commitment to take the sweetness of the Sabbath into our week, its joys, its hope, and its future anticipation for the time of ultimate peace and brotherhood.
May the beauty of the holidays that were continue into the months to come!
Rabbi Yossi J. Liebowitz D.D.
Arava — Literally “willow,” one of the four species.
Arba minim — Literally “four species,” a quartet of plants used in Sukkot rituals: lulav, , hadas, and aravah. They symbolize joy for life and dedication to God. The four species are held and shaken during the Hallel service.
Etrog — Literally “citron,” one of the four species.
Geshem — Literally “rain,” additional prayer for rain read on Shemini Atzeret in the fall, introduced in the poetic form of an alphabetic acrostic.
Hadas —Literally “myrtle,” one of the four species.
Hakafah — Literally “circuit,” a celebratory processional around the room done on Sukkot and Simchat . On Sukkot hakafot (the Hebrew plural of hakafah) are done holding the four species, except on . On Shemini Atzeret the hakafot are done while singing, dancing, and carrying Torahs.
Hatan/Kallat Bereishit — Literally “Groom/Bride of Genesis,” this is a designation of honor for the person who is called up to the very first aliyah of the Book of Genesis on the morning of Simchat Torah.
Hatan/Kallat Torah — Literally “Groom/Bride of the Torah” this is a designation of honor for the person who is called up to the very last of the Book of Deuteronomy on the morning of Simchat Torah.
Hol Hamoed — Literally “the mundane of the festival,” the intermediary days falling between the most sacred days of the festivals of Sukkot and Passover. These days have fewer prohibitions and commandments associated with them than the first and last days of the festivals.
Hoshanah Rabbah — Literally, “the Great Call for Help,” the seventh day of Sukkot during which hakafot are made and Hoshanot are recited. According to one tradition, it is the very last day for God to seal a judgment.
Hoshanot — Prayers of salvation that are chanted on Hoshanah Rabbah while holding the four species. At the end of the hakafot, each person takes a bundle of willow twigs and strikes it on the ground for symbolic purposes. Each prayer begins with the word hoshanah, which means, “Save, I pray.”
Kohelet —The Book of Ecclesiastes, a collection of wisdom, traditionally attributed to King Solomon. It is one of the five books from the part of the Bible called the Writings (Ketuvim) and is read on the intermediary Shabbat of Sukkot.
Lulav — Literally “palm branch,” one of the four species. It is also the name given to the general bundle of willow, myrtle, and palm branches.
Pitom — Literally “protuberance,” the bulging tip at the blossom end of the etrog. If it falls off naturally, the etrog is considered to be kosher. If it has been knocked off, the fruit is considered to have a blemish and thus be unfit for ritual use as one of the four species.
Shalosh Regalim — Literally “three legs,” the three major festivals of Passover, and Sukkot. On these occasions during biblical times Jews went on pilgrimages to Jerusalem to make special offerings at the Temple.
Shemini Atzeret — Literally “the Eighth Day of Gathering,” the eighth day of Sukkot, which holds special significance as its own holiday. Jews thank God for the harvest and ask for winter rain to prepare the ground for spring planting.
Simchat Torah — Literally “rejoicing in the Torah,” the holiday that celebrates both the end and renewal of the annual cycle of reading the Torah. Typically, the congregation takes the Torah scrolls from the and parades with them in circles (hakafot) around the perimeter of the sanctuary.
Skhakh — Literally “covering,” the roofing of the , which is made from natural materials such as bamboo or palm branches.
Sukkah — Literally “hut” or “booth,” a temporary structure that is built in order to be dwelt in for the duration of the holiday of Sukkot. Its purpose is to commemorate the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt and to make a symbolic gesture that acknowledges humankind’s reliance upon God. The construction of a sukkah follows a set of specific regulations.
Ushpizin — Literally “guests,” the biblical guests that the Zohar teaches are to be invited into the sukkah (along with the poor) during each night of Sukkot. Traditionally these seven guests are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. Today many people add the names of women to the list.
Zman Simchateinu — Literally “the time of our rejoicing,” an expression often used when referring to the days of Sukkot.
Friday Service, 9/21, will begin at 5:30 with refreshments & 6:00 service to follow.
I have often wondered whether the trouble some of us have with our religious observance, attending worship services and understanding our prayer book might perhaps be helped if we translated certain key words from their old-fashioned language to more current idiom.
For example, words like sin, repentance, and salvation: To all too many of us they carry little meaning, strike no significant chord in us. Not because they represent no realities, but because these words themselves belong to a bygone age when people actually said of some act, “That’s a sin.”
Today, we would put it differently. We would say of the same behavior: “It’s boorish, antisocial, indecent, neurotic.”
What is sin? It is sickness of soul, unhappiness with what we are doing with our lives, to ourselves and to others who share our life: the unhappy misapplication of our talents and energies in directions that bring us no sense of fulfillment, no feeling of achievement or joy in living.
We have no sinners today. Of course not! Only millions of delinquents, of alienated, frustrated, hung-up, drug-addicted, sex-obsessed, anxiety- and guilt- ridden neurotics. That’s all; but certainly no sinners–perish forbid!
And translated into everyday language, what is repentance? What, indeed, but the need and the longing to change, the effort to heal ourselves, the quest for a cure for our sickness of soul.
What does a skillful psychiatrist accomplish when he is successful? He turns his patient around. He redirects the sick way the patient thinks and feels and behaves, helps him change his pathologically unhappy mode of operation for another way, a way that will make him regard himself with esteem rather than with contempt. To change, to turn from a bad to a better way, is precisely the meaning of , the Hebrew word for repentance.
Or, take the word salvation. It is just an old word, which means being saved, rescued from some danger or trouble or disease. Translated into current language, it means being healthy: having a wholesome sense of well-being at peace with oneself and the world.
Sin, then, is just sickness of the soul. Repentance is the prescription for its cure. Salvation is health; the cure itself.
From Moments of Transcendence: Inspirational Readings for Rosh Hashanah, edited by Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins © 1992 Jason Aronson Inc.