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Rosh Hashannah

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Selichot, part 1: Lishmoa El HaRina VeEl HaTefilla- Supplication and Prayer
Selichot, part 1: Lishmoa El HaRina VeEl HaTefilla- Supplication and Prayer
Click here for more in this series. The structure of selichot and the Ashkenazi practice of starting selichot on a Saturday night--BeMotza'ei Menucha  
Everyone Believes: Rosh Hashanah and the Renewal of Faith
Everyone Believes: Rosh Hashanah and the Renewal of Faith
In the prayers of the High Holy Days, we sing ‘Everyone Believes’ –  a poem by Yannai from the Byzantine Era. In this lecture, we’ll explore the nature of faith, ask whether God has faith in us, and recast the holiday of Rosh Hashanah in terms of a renewal of faith: Human and Divine.
Commandment and Autonomy in the Story of Akeidat Yitzchak
Commandment and Autonomy in the Story of Akeidat Yitzchak
We will look at the themes of commandment and autonomy in the Torah reading of Rosh Hashanah.
Zichronot: Memory, Judgement and Covenant, Understanding the Central Prayer of Rosh Hashanah
Zichronot: Memory, Judgement and Covenant, Understanding the Central Prayer of Rosh Hashanah
In this session, we will look at the themes of memory, judgement, and covenant in Zichronot (verses of remembrance), one of the three blessings we add to musaf on Rosh HaShanah.
Imagining a Different World: The Prayer of Chana
Imagining a Different World: The Prayer of Chana
In this session, we will look at the haftarah of the first day of Rosh HaShanah (I Samuel 1:1-2:10) and use it to gain a better understanding of the holiday.
Sister Wives? Sarah, Hagar, and the Day of Judgment
Sister Wives? Sarah, Hagar, and the Day of Judgment
The banishment of Ishmael and the Binding of Isaac - read on the first and second days of Rosh HaShanah respectively - are often seen as companion stories of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his own children for God. But what of the mothers in these stories, Sarah and Hagar?  We will examine the two characters, their differences as well as uncanny similarities, in order to understand the root of their opposition to each other.
What’s God Doing on Rosh HaShanah
What’s God Doing on Rosh HaShanah
Do we believe that God is in time, or does He somehow stand outside of time? How is this question relevant to Rosh HaShanah? Together we will think through some of these philosophical issues, and use them to interpret a puzzling Talmudic debate as to what we have to repent for each year.
You Can’t Fix What Isn’t Broken: The Indispensable Errors of Religious and Spiritual Growth
You Can’t Fix What Isn’t Broken: The Indispensable Errors of Religious and Spiritual Growth
A Rosh HaShanah paradox: The longer we live the more we understand our lives as a story and a journey. We all have our developing life narratives. But our stories and journeys are complex and complicated. Ironically, the best of who we are today sometimes derives in part from some of the most serious faults and misdeeds of our yesterday. Making mistakes, both moral and religious, seems necessary for our individual spiritual development and growth. Teshuva, however, requires regretting what we did wrong however necessary it was for our growth. In this class, we will explore Jewish texts and our own life experience that deal with the paradox of repentance in a world of indispensable moral and religious errors. What exactly is regret about errors that were necessary for our moral and religious growth?  How do we avoid using the idea of necessary errors as an excuse for bad behavior? Is the logic of regret the same for “necessary sins” against other people as for “necessary sins” against God?  How can we sometimes consciously turn what was a sin into the origin of what is a positive good?
Themes of Rosh HaShanah as Reflected in Our Liturgy (part 1 of a 2-session class)
Themes of Rosh HaShanah as Reflected in Our Liturgy (part 1 of a 2-session class)
Click here to listen to the second session. Through an examination of the Rosh HaShanah prayer service, we will uncover major themes of the holiday.
Thoughts on Rosh HaShanah
Thoughts on Rosh HaShanah
Confession and Repentance (part 1 of a 3-session course)
Confession and Repentance (part 1 of a 3-session course)
Click here to listen to the other class sessions. We will look at a variety of biblical and rabbinic texts relating to the act of confession and the role of repentance.  
Piyyutim of the High Holidays (part 1 of a 3-session course)
Piyyutim of the High Holidays (part 1 of a 3-session course)
Click here to listen to the other class sessions. High holiday services often seem dominated by intricate, often difficult to understand, liturgical poetry (piyyutim). We explore various piyyutim, uncovering layers of biblical and midrashic allusions.  
Thoughts on Rosh HaShanah
Thoughts on Rosh HaShanah
How do the various calls of the Shofar represent our human vulnerabilities?
The Binder, the Bound, and the Altar: The Akeidah in High Holiday Liturgy
The Binder, the Bound, and the Altar: The Akeidah in High Holiday Liturgy
In this overview of the Zichronot section of our Rosh Hashanah liturgy, we ask - why is remembrance so important to God's yearly judgement?
The Broken Sounds of the Shofar
The Broken Sounds of the Shofar
The Shofar is often thought of as a "word-less prayer". How might that model impact our everyday experience of tefilah?
When Bad Things Happen to Good Biblical Characters: The Opposing Cases of Abraham and Job
When Bad Things Happen to Good Biblical Characters: The Opposing Cases of Abraham and Job
The Torah reading of the Akeidah is extremely difficult to understand, much like the Book of Job. What are these stories of personal tragedy inflicted on righteous individuals by a righteous God actually saying?
Retrieving Ishmael: Torah Readings of Rosh HaShanah (part 1 of a 3-session course)
Retrieving Ishmael: Torah Readings of Rosh HaShanah (part 1 of a 3-session course)
Click here to listen to the other class sessions. An in-depth and midrashic analysis of the Torah readings of Rosh HaShanah.  
Thoughts on Rosh HaShana
Thoughts on Rosh HaShana
Rosh HaShana forces us to step back and view ourselves as beings in G-d's world with certain implications of what our roles are therein.
Akeidat Yitzhak
Akeidat Yitzhak
The Surprising Origin of Tashlikh: A Journey into History, Halakhah and Minhag
The Surprising Origin of Tashlikh: A Journey into History, Halakhah and Minhag
This podcast examines the historical/halakhic sources of the extremely popular custom of tashlikh on Rosh HaShanah. It explores the various permutations that led to the development of the contemporary custom and its underlying symbolisms.
Themes of Rosh HaShanah
Themes of Rosh HaShanah
What does the Torah's very limited description of Rosh HaShanah teach us? Through textual comparison and rabbinic literature much can be inferred about the holiday and its traditions.
Understanding Our Selichot Service: A Rabbinic Tapestry of Biblical Themes and Verses
Understanding Our Selichot Service: A Rabbinic Tapestry of Biblical Themes and Verses
How is the Selichot service different from our regular prayer service? Through analysis of its structure, key sections and themes, this podcast explores Selichot's Biblical roots and Rabbinic history in order to better understand its purpose and meaning.  Part of The Stanley Rudoff Memorial High Holy Day Lecture Series.
Understanding the Mitzvah of Shofar in Tanakh and Halakhah
Understanding the Mitzvah of Shofar in Tanakh and Halakhah
This podcast examines  biblical and rabbinic sources to uncover the underlying themes and purposes that the Torah and subsequent halakhic development saw in this central ritual of Rosh HaShanah that continues to play such a critical role in our understanding of the High Holidays.
Making Sense Out of Musaf: Using Tanakh to Explain Our Rosh HaShanah Makhzor
Making Sense Out of Musaf: Using Tanakh to Explain Our Rosh HaShanah Makhzor
It can be difficult enough just to follow the prayer service on Rosh HaShanah, let alone to understand what is going on in the Makhzor. We will explain the basic biblical concepts that lay behind our special High Holiday prayers, focusing primarily on the structure and basic themes of the lengthy Musaf service.
Prayers of Rosh HaShanah
Prayers of Rosh HaShanah
We will discuss the prayers of Rosh HaShanah.
Major Themes of Rosh HaShanah
Major Themes of Rosh HaShanah
We will discuss the major themes of the holiday of Rosh HaShanah.
Fast of Gedalia: Then and Now
Fast of Gedalia: Then and Now
The Fast of Gedalia mourns the extinguishing of the last ember of Jewish leadership in the Kingdom of Judah. How could the death of one person measure up against the destruction of all of Jerusalem and the Temple? Part of the Stanley Rudoff Memorial High Holy Day Lecture Series.
Gates of Favor: Sephardic Cadences of the Akeida
Gates of Favor: Sephardic Cadences of the Akeida
New Year, Judgment Day, and Coronation: The Many Faces and Single Nature of Rosh HaShanah
New Year, Judgment Day, and Coronation: The Many Faces and Single Nature of Rosh HaShanah
Prayer as a “Transformative” Experience: From Daily Kriyat Shema to Yom Kippur Neilah
Prayer as a “Transformative” Experience: From Daily Kriyat Shema to Yom Kippur Neilah
Our High Holiday prayers assume that each individual is judged by God on Rosh HaShanah, and that judgment is then sealed on Yom Kippur. Hence, the goal of our prayers is to "transform" the Judge's opinion in our favor. By distinguishing between "comprehension" and "intention" we will undertake a closer examination of prayer in both the siddur and machzor to show how its primary goal may focus much more on the "transformation" of the petitioner.
Hagar, Ishmael, and the Phantom Akeidah
Hagar, Ishmael, and the Phantom Akeidah
Hannah’s Prayers
Hannah’s Prayers
The Haftarah of Rosh HaShanah, Day 1 - Hannah's Aloneness and Divine Kingship and Human Responsibility 
The Redemption of Sarah
The Redemption of Sarah
The Torah Reading of Rosh HaShanah, Day 1 - Conflicting Perceptions of Family and Abraham's Vindication of Sarah
The Binding of Isaac and the Banishment of Ishmael
The Binding of Isaac and the Banishment of Ishmael
The Binding of Isaac- The Torah Reading of Rosh HaShanah, Day 2: Part 1
Abraham’s Discovery of the Sacred Place
Abraham’s Discovery of the Sacred Place
The Binding of Isaac- The Torah Reading of Rosh HaShanah, Day 2: Part 2
Binding of Isaac: Reading for Rosh HaShanah
Binding of Isaac: Reading for Rosh HaShanah
The Akeidah plays a significant Role in the Torah reading and liturgy of Rosh HaShanah. We will examine this story in the context of Abraham's relationship to God and God's Covenant with our ancestors.
What Have They Done to My Holiday, or Rosh HaShanah Through the Ages
What Have They Done to My Holiday, or Rosh HaShanah Through the Ages
The Torah dubs Rosh HaShanah the "Day of Trumpet Blasts;" it is not presented as the beginning of the New Year, and certainly not as a day of divine judgment. What does this holiday's evolution through post-biblical Jewish writings, the Mishnah and the Babylonian Talmud teach us about the very idea of Torah? Part of the Stanley Rudoff Memorial High Holy Day Lecture Series.
Centrality of Aleinu on Rosh HaShanah: A Biblical Perspective on the Concept of Malchiot in Musaf
Centrality of Aleinu on Rosh HaShanah: A Biblical Perspective on the Concept of Malchiot in Musaf
Malchiot, declaring God's Kingdom, emerges as one of the central themes of our prayers on Rosh HaShanah. We will begin by tracing the concept of malchiot in the Bible and its relation to the Covenant between God and His People. We will then study the malchiot section of musaf, which is introduced by Aleinu Leshabayach.