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Rosh Hashana Summaries

Rosh Hashana 5780-2019

“The Judgment of Ishmael, and its Contemporary Implications for all of G-d’s Creatures”
(Updated and revised from Rosh Hashana 5761-2000)

Even the wicked Ishmael was given a “pass” by the Al-mighty and allowed to survive, because at that time of judgment he was not “worthy” of punishment. Similarly, the Al-mighty is prepared to give every sincere penitent the benefit of the doubt and inscribe us in the Book of Life.

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Nitzavim-Rosh Hashana 5779-2018

“Whatever Became of Sin?”

Parashat Nitzavim has been called “one of the greatest expositions on repentance in the Torah.” How appropriate it is to read these deeply inspiring words during the High Holy Day season.

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Rosh Hashana-Ha’azinu 5778-2017

“The Blame Game”

Life today, as in biblical times, is filled with blaming others for our own shortcomings. The High Holidays present us with a particularly propitious opportunity to correct that behavior by consciously acknowledging our own shortcomings.

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Nitzavim-Rosh Hashana 5776/5777-2016

“Israel’s Charge to Impact on the World”

The actions of the Jewish people impact profoundly not only on Jews themselves, but upon all the nations of the world.

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Nitzavim-Rosh Hashana 5775/5776-2015

“Standing Firmly Before G-d and Man”

Parashat Nitzavim conveys a very powerful message of mutual responsibility that should resonate with all Jews, especially during the fateful period of the High Holy Days.

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Haazinu-Rosh Hashana 5775-2014

“Invoking Heaven and Earth”

How does the humble, former-shepherd Moses have the audacity to call upon Heaven and Earth and enlist their services as witnesses to the words that he is about to speak?

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Haazinu-Rosh Hashana 5774-2013

“Jewish Normal, Is Not Very Normal”

We live in remarkable times, anomalous times, times that have no precedent in all of Jewish history. Our current experiences with relative peace and tranquility can hardly be called “Jewish normal.”

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Nitzavim-Rosh Hashana 5773-2012

“The Return to G-d”

Our rabbis declare that in the place where the penitents stand, even the most righteous cannot stand. Why should G-d feel closer to the penitent than to one who has never sinned?

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Rosh Hashana 5772-2011

“The Dialectic of Joy and Fear”

There is an inherent inconsistency with respect to the nature of the High Holidays. The fear as well as the joy that play prominent roles on these holy days appear to be in conflict.

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Rosh Hashana 5771-2010

“G-d’s Struggle to Repent”

Does G-d pray? If He does, what is His prayer? The Talmud provides a fascinating answer to these questions, and in the process sends us a most valuable message for the High Holy Days.

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Rosh Hashana 5770-2009

“The Unexpected Joy of Rosh Hashanah”

As the new year approaches, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Salvation or destruction may be determined at any moment. It seems as though a crushing weight is upon each individual, whose personal behavior may result in a collective blessing or curse. And, yet, Rosh Hashana is a day of great joy, because our loving Father in Heaven is always willing to forgive His children.

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Rosh Hashana-Nitzavim 5769-2008

“Hewers of Wood and Drawers of Water”

In this parasha, which contains many cogent Rosh Hashana messages, Moses calls all the people of Israel together on the last day of his life to reaffirm the people’s covenant with G-d, making a point of calling the hewers of the wood and the drawers of water. The Torah, in effect, warns us never to judge people by their professions or outward appearances. We hope that in these Days of Judgment, the Al-mighty will judge us favorably as well.

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Rosh Hashana 5768-2007

“The Sounding of the Shofar”

What are the reasons for the sounding of the shofar, and what are its meanings? Why do we sound 100 blasts of the shofar? What should be our proper inner intentions and thoughts when the shofar is sounded?

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Rosh Hashana 5767-2006

“The Longest Day”

The longest day of the year may not be the “Summer Solstice” or the extended fast of Yom Kippur, but rather Rosh Hashanah, a day that is known in rabbinic literature as Yoma Arikhta–one long day. Could it be that G-d is granting the wish of all human beings to have a little extra time to take care of the important things in life?

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Rosh Hashana 5766-2005

“Actions and their Implications”

Rosh Hashanah provides us with a unique opportunity for introspection and self-evaluation. Unfortunately, most people often fail to realize the implications of their actions, deeds and words. What we think is innocuous, can often be terribly destructive.

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Rosh Hashana 5764-2003

“Making Each Day Count”

The High Holidays are a time to rendezvous with our Maker, to own-up to the sins that we have committed during the previous year, and to emerge anew, ready to serve G-d with vitality, freshness, and enthusiasm. What is the secret to living a life full of life?

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Rosh Hashana 5763-2002

“A Message for the High Holy Days: ‘Export, Export!'”

During the period of the Ten Days of Penitence, we need to make our lives more spiritually meaningful. It is during these ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur that we must make a particularly strong effort to “export” good deeds and acts of kindness.

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Rosh Hashana 5761-2000

“The Judgment of Ishmael and its Contemporary Implications for all of G-d’s Creatures”

From the story of Hagar and Ishmael that is read on Rosh Hashana from Genesis 21, we learn that even though Ishmael had an evil past and his potential for the future was not promising, G-d saved him because at that moment he could not be considered guilty. Surely this most hopeful and optimistic message is appropriate for all on Rosh Hashana. It is as if the Al-mighty does “somersaults” in order to find every possible reason to judge his creatures favorably.

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