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Shabbat, September 19, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Rosh Hashanah Day 1
Jewish History

On Tishrei 1 -- the sixth day of creation -- "G-d said: 'Let us make Man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth...'" (Genesis 1:26). "G-d formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (ibid., 2:7). "And G-d took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to work it and to keep it" (2:15). "And G-d said: 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helpmeet opposite him' ... G-d caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his sides, and closed up the flesh in its place. And G-d built the side which He had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. And the man said: 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.' Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother, and cleaves to his wife; and they become one flesh" (2:18-24).

Links: The Man In Man; Man & Woman; Parshah Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8) with commentary

On the very day he was created, man committed the first sin of history, transgressing the divine commandment not to eat from the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil." Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden, and mankind became subject to death, labor and moral confusion. But on that day the first man and woman also repented their sin, introducing the concept and opportunities of teshuvah ("return") into the human experience.

Links: The Discovery of Darkness; G-d's Business

On the 1st of Tishrei, on the 307th day of the Great Flood, Noach dispatched a dove from the ark, for the third time (see "On This Date" for Elul 17 and Elul 23). When the dove did not return, Noah knew that the Flood's waters had completely drained from the earth. On that day, Noach removed the roof of the ark; but Noah and his family, and all the animals, remained in the ark for another 57 days -- until the 27th of Cheshvan -- when the suface of the earth was completely dry and G-d commanded them to leave the ark and resettle and reppopulate the earth.

Links: The Window; Life in a Box

Abraham's supreme test of faith -- his binding of Isaac in preparation to sacrifice him as per G-d's command -- occurred on the 1st of Tishrei of the year 2084 from creation (1677 BCE), and is recalled each Rosh Hashanah with the sounding of the shofar (ram's horn -- a ram was sacrificed in Isaac's stead when an angel revealed that the command to sacrifice Isaac was but a divine test); the Torah's account of the event is publicly read in the synagogue on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah. On the day of Isaac's binding, his mother, Sarah, passed away at age 127, and was subsequently buried in the Machpelah Cave in Hebron.

Link: The Binding of Isaac

In a letter to his brother-in-law, Rabbi Gershon Kitover, the Baal Shem Tov relates: "On Rosh Hashanah of the year 5507 [from creation] I made an 'ascent of soul' in the manner known to you... I ascended level after level until I reached the chamber of Moshiach... And I asked Moshiach: "When will the Master come?" And he replied: "When your teachings will be disseminated and revealed in the world, and your wellsprings will spread to the outside..." (Keter Shem Tov 1:1).

Links: About the Baal Shem Tov; about Chassidism

The "Daf Yomi" daily regimen of Talmud study (in which the participant studies one folio a day to complete the entire Talmud in seven years) initiated by Rabbi Meir Shapiro of Lublin, was launched on Rosh Hashanah of 1923.

Laws and Customs

On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, we extend to one another greetings of Leshana Tovah Tekatev Vitechatem, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

In the evening meal, we eat apple dipped in honey, the head of a fish, pomogranates , tzimmes (sweet carrots) and other foods signifying a sweet and successful year

Because it is Shabbat, the shofar is not sounded on the first day of Rosh Hashanah this year, nor is the "tashlich" ceremony performed; both these observances are done on the second day only.

Links: Rosh Hashanah "to do" guide

The 10-day period beginning on Rosh Hashahnah and ending on Yom Kippur is known as the "Ten Days of Repentance"; this is the period, say the sages, of which the prophet speaks when he proclaims (Isaiah 55:6) "Seek G-d when He is to be found; call on Him when He is near." Psalm 130, Avinu Malkeinu and other special inserts and additions are included in our daily prayers during these days.

The Baal Shem Tov instituted the custom of reciting three additional chapters of Psalms each day, from the 1st of Elul until Yom Kippur (on Yom Kippur the remaining 36 chapters are recited, thereby completing the entire book of Psalms). Click below for today's three Psalms.

Chapter 88 Chapter 89 Chapter 90

Links: About the Ten Days of teshuvah; Voicemail; more on teshuvah

Daily Thought

It is a love more fierce than death…its coals burn with the fire of a divine flame. The mightiest oceans are incapable of extinguishing this love, and rivers cannot wash it away.
—Song of Songs 8:6–7.

Deep within the human soul burns an intense love, a yearning to reunite with the Infinite Light from which it emerged.

The flood of anxieties that fill this world are incapable of inundating that love. The rapid rivers of the busiest, noisiest life cannot wash it away.

Because it is not a flame lit by human hands, not a love born of human imagination. It is an innate love, divinely forged, a love that lies at the very essence. For all this world was only made to serve this love, to fall into the harmony of its spell.

Ride above the waves. Surround yourself with an ark of divine wisdom and precious deeds, and let the flood of waters carry you high.

That flame will burst into a brilliant fire. For all the challenges it has faced will have rendered it that much greater.

Mayim Rabim 5738