GOOD MORNING! Rosh Hashana begins this Monday evening, September 17. I have been trying to think of what would help make this Rosh Hashana more meaningful, more enjoyable for you. I am well aware that Services are not always inspirational, uplifting, moving. There is even a song called "I've Got the Stand-up, Sit-down Prayerbook Blues." Perhaps the following two pieces from the Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur Survival Kit (available in Jewish bookstores -- or call toll-free 877-758-3242 -- take it with you to temple or synagogue) will help to make the services as personally uplifting as possible.
Q & A: HOW TO SURVIVE SYNAGOGUE -- OR HOW DO I MAKE MY SYNAGOGUE EXPERIENCE MORE MEANINGFUL?
- Five minutes of prayer said with understanding, feeling, and a personal connection to the words and their significance means far more than five hours of lip service.
- "Unfulfilled expectations lead to self-imposed frustrations." Therefore, don't expect to be "moved" by every prayer or to follow along with the entire service.
- Read through the prayers and slowly think about what you're saying and don't be overly concerned about being behind. Look, the worst that could happen is that you will fall behind, but don't worry, they'll probably announce the pages so you can always catch up.
- If a particular sentence or paragraph touches you -- linger a while. say the words over and over to yourself -- softly, but audible to your ears. Allow those words to touch you. Feel them. And, if you're really brave, then close your eyes and say those words over and over for a couple of moments.
- You're not that proficient in Hebrew? Don't worry, God understands whatever language you speak. And, like a loving parent, God can discern what's in your heart even if you can't quite express it the way you would like.
- As you sit in your synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, you are joined by millions of Jews in synagogues all other the world. You are a Jew and you are making a powerful statement about your commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people!
SOME QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT IN SYNAGOGUE OR DISCUSS AT YOUR ROSH HASHANA Meals
- When do I most feel that my life is meaningful?
- How often do I express my feelings to those who mean the most to me?
- Are there any ideals I would be willing to die for?
- If I could live my life over, would I change anything?
- What would bring me more happiness than anything else in the world?
- What are my three most significant achievements since last Rosh Hashana?
- What are the three biggest mistakes I've made since last Rosh Hashana?
- What project or goal, if left undone, will I most regret next Rosh Hashana?
- If I knew I couldn't fail, what would I undertake to accomplish in my life?
- What are my three major goals in life?
What am I doing to achieve them?
What practical steps can I take in the next two months toward these goals?
- If I could give my children only three pieces of advice, what would they be?
- What is the most important decision I need to make this year?
- What important decision did I avoid making last year?
- What did I do last year that gave me the strongest feeling of self-respect?
- When do I feel closest to God?
- Do I have a vision of where I want to be one, three and five years from now?
- What are the most important relationships in my life?
Over the last year did those relationships become closer and deeper or was there a sense of stagnation and drifting?
What can I do to nurture those relationships this year?
- If I could change only one thing about myself, what would that be?
- If I could change one thing about my spiritual life, what would it be?
Portion of the Week
On the day of Moshe's death he assembles the whole Jewish people and creates a Covenant confirming the Jewish people as the Almighty's Chosen People for all future generations. Moshe makes clear the consequences of rejecting God and His Torah as well as the possibility of repentance. He reiterates that Torah is readily available to everyone.
Netzavim concludes with perhaps the clearest and most powerful statement in the Torah about the purpose of life and the existence of freewill: "I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil ... the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life that you may live, you and your descendants." (Now that's a real Quote of the Week!)
A Final Thought ...
An elderly sage named Reb Zusia lay on his deathbed surrounded by his students and disciples. He was crying and no one could comfort him. One student asked his Rebbe, "Why do you cry? You were almost as wise as Moses and as kind as Abraham."
Reb Zusia answered, "When I pass from this world and appear before the Heavenly Tribunal, they won't ask me, 'Zusia, why weren't you as wise as Moses or as kind as Abraham,' rather, they will ask me, 'Zusia, why weren't you Zusia?' Why didn't I fulfill my potential, why didn't I follow the path that could have been mine."
On Rosh Hashanah we confront our potential as human beings, but even more so, as Jews. Let each of us use the opportunity to reevaluate our lives, our potentials, and our commitment to our God, our Torah, our People and ourselves!
CANDLE LIGHTING - September 7:
(or go to http://aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:46 Hong Kong 6:10 Honolulu 6:17
J'Burg 5:42 London 7:00 Los Angeles 6:43
Melbourne 5:51 Miami 7:08 Moscow 6:32
New York 6:49 Singapore 6:46
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
If you don't have a goal ...
you can't fulfill it.
On behalf of all of us at Aish HaTorah, I would like to wish you and your family a beautiful and sweet New Year, full of God's blessing for health, happiness and success. May your Rosh Hashanah be meaningful and inspiring!
In Loving Memory of