Sunday 5 September 2021

Rosh Hashanah Tzetl - 5782

5:45pm - Candle Lighting, Monday
6:43pm - Candle Lighting*, Tuesday (after)
6:44pm - Yom Tov concludes, Wednesday
(Melbourne Australia)
Good Yom tov!
* from a pre-existing flame

Genesis 21:1–34; Genesis 22:1–24
Day 1:
G‑d remembers Sarah, and gives her and Abraham a son, who is named Isaac (Yitzchak), meaning "will laugh"; Abraham is then one hundred years old, and Sarah ninety. Isaac is circumcised at the age of eight days.

Hagar and Ishmael are banished from Abraham's home, and wander in the desert; G‑d hears the cry of the dying lad, and saves his life by showing his mother a well. The Philistine king Abimelech makes a treaty with Abraham at Be'er Sheba.

Day 2:
G‑d commands Abraham to sacrifice his son on Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. Isaac is bound and placed on the altar, and Abraham raises the knife to slaughter his son. A voice from heaven calls to stop him, saying that it was a test; a ram, caught in the undergrowth by its horns, is offered in Isaac's place.

Day 1:
I Samuel 1:1–2:10

The haftorah for the first day of Rosh Hashanah describes the birth of the prophet Samuel to Elkanah and his wife Chanah, who had been childless for many years. This echoes the story discussed in the day's Torah reading, about Sarah giving birth to Isaac after many years of childlessness.

During one of her annual pilgrimages to Shiloh, the site of the Tabernacle, Chanah tearfully and quietly entreated G‑d to bless her with a son, promising to dedicate him to His service. Eli the high priest saw her whispering, and berated her, thinking that she was a drunkard. After hearing Chanah's explanation, that she had been whispering in prayer, Eli blessed her that G‑d should grant her request.

Chana conceived and gave birth to a son whom she called Shmuel (Samuel). Once the child was weaned, she brought him to Shiloh and entrusted him to the care of Eli.

The haftorah ends with Chanah's prayer, wherein she thanks G‑d for granting her wish, extols His greatness, exhorts the people not to be haughty or arrogant, and prophesies regarding the Messianic redemption.

Day 2:
Jeremiah 31:1–19

The haftorah for the second day of Rosh Hashanah talks about G‑d's everlasting love for His people, and the future ingathering of their exiles. In the last verse of this hauntingly beautiful haftorah, G‑d says, "Is Ephraim [i.e., the Children of Israel] not My beloved son? Is he not a precious child, that whenever I speak of him I recall him even more?" This follows one of the primary themes of the Rosh Hashanah prayers, our attempt to induce G‑d to remember us in a positive light on this Day of Judgment.

Jeremiah begins by affirming G‑d's love for the Jewish people. "With everlasting love I have loved you; therefore I have drawn lovingkindness over you."

Because of this love, G‑d assures His nation that they have a very bright future awaiting them. "I will yet build you up, then you shall be built forever, O virgin of Israel; you will yet adorn yourself with your tambourines, and go forth in joyous dance." Jeremiah then describes the ingathering of the exiles, when all of Israel will be returned to the Holy Land: "You will again plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria . . . Behold, I will bring [Israel] from the land of the north, and gather them from the ends of the earth . . . a large assembly will return here. Weeping with joy they will come, and with compassion I will lead them . . . I will turn their mourning into joy, and will console them and gladden them after their sorrow."

Jeremiah then describes the heavenly scene, where the silence is broken by the sound of bitter weeping. Our Matriarch Rachel refuses to be consoled, for her children have been exiled. G‑d responds: "Still your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears . . . There is hope for your future; the children shall return to their border."


G‑d remembered Sarah (Genesis 21:1)

"Remembrance" is one of the three primary themes of Rosh Hashanah (the other two being "Kingship" and "Shofarot"). For it is the day on which "the remembrance of all of existence comes before You." In the words of the Unesaneh Tokef prayer:

"On this day . . . You will remember all that was forgotten. You will open the Book of Memory—it will read itself, and everyone's signature is in it . . . and all mankind will pass before You like sheep. Like a shepherd inspecting his flock, making his sheep pass under his staff, so shall You run by, count, calculate and consider the soul of all the living; You will apportion the fixed needs of all Your creatures, and inscribe their verdict.

"On Rosh Hashanah it will be inscribed, and on Yom Kippur it will be sealed: How many shall pass on and how many shall be born; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water, who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning; who will rest and who will wander; who will live in harmony and who will be harried; who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer; who will be impoverished and who will be enriched; who will be degraded and who will be exalted . . ."

Sarah said: "G‑d has made laughter for me, so that all that hear will laugh (yitzchak) with me" (21:6)

The concept of Rosh Hashanah as the day of G‑d's "coronation" as king of the universe explains a most puzzling paradox in the nature of the day. On the one hand, Rosh Hashanah is when we stand before the Supreme King and tremulously accept the "yoke of His sovereignty." On the other hand, it is a festival (yom tov), celebrated amidst much feasting and rejoicing—a day on which we are enjoined to "eat sumptuous foods and drink sweet beverages, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared, for the day is holy to our L‑rd; do not be distressed, for the joy of the L‑rd is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).

But such is the nature of a coronation: it is an event that combines trepidation and joy, awe and celebration. For true kingship, as opposed to mere rulership, derives from the willful submission of a people to their sovereign. So the coronation of a king includes a display of reverence and awe on the part of the people, conveying their submission to the king; as well as the joy that affirms that their submission is willful and desirous.

(From the Chassidic Masters)

Submission to Emmanuel's? See here