Day Six, Hour 11.5

Rosh Hashana is one of our most significant Jewish holidays, but the Torah doesn’t say much about it. It’s only mentioned twice, and briefly at that: And Hashem spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day… Continue reading Day Six, Hour 11.5

Unprepared and Ready

Not long before my old friend Rube (Rabbi Richard Rubinstein, that is) passed away, I had the privilege of visiting him at his home in Sacramento. He was already in bad shape from the cancer that eventually killed him, but his spirits were remarkably fine, so when he happened to recommend a book to me,… Continue reading Unprepared and Ready

The Silence of Abraham

I wrote this commentary the day before 9/11/2001 and it seemed particularly relevant in the days that followed. I reposted it on this blog site a few years ago, and it still seems current to me, as we approach Rosh Hashanah 2016.  During the time of self-examination and spiritual preparation leading up to the Days… Continue reading The Silence of Abraham

“Return to me and I will return to you”

What is complete teshuva [return or repentance]? When a person has the opportunity to commit the original sin again, and is physically able to sin again, but refrains from sinning—not out of fear, or because of physical weakness, but because of his repentance . . . he is a baal teshuva (‘master of repentance’). Rambam,… Continue reading “Return to me and I will return to you”

The sound of a New Year

Every year as Rosh Hashanah approaches, I get ready for someone to object to the greeting “L’shana tovah” (“to a good year”), or even to the name of the holiday itself, Rosh Hashanah, which means literally “Head of the Year,” or New Year’s. Why would anyone object to such positive terms? Because, they’ll tell me,… Continue reading The sound of a New Year

Rosh Hashanah with Ishmael

Abraham endured ten trials of his faith, according to Jewish tradition, and the last two involve Abraham’s two sons: he must cast Ishmael out of the camp, and offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. We read about both these trials on Rosh Hashanah; Ishmael on the first day and Isaac on the second. The Akedah… Continue reading Rosh Hashanah with Ishmael

Non-theoretical truth

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves [and] admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. From the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous   When truth encounters the data of our lives, it gives rise to confession. Truth itself can be pretty abstract, an… Continue reading Non-theoretical truth