web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Festive Or Somber (Masechet Rosh Hashanah)

Grunfeld-Raphael-NEW

Around my parents’ Rosh Hashanah table it tasted, smelled and felt like Yom Tov. My mother would ply us all with delicious food and engage everybody in friendly conversation. At the other end of the table my father, usually quite talkative, engaging and fond of his food, would sit in silence, wearing a serene yet somber expression and eating sparingly. Talking about other people was not his favorite dinner pastime any time of the year, but on Rosh Hashanah he would tolerate none of it. It seemed as if he were between two worlds and did not want to be disturbed. Looking from mother to father I wondered: Is Rosh Hashanah a happy day or a sad day?

It turns out that this is an ancient question with no clear answer. In 384 BCE, Ezra and Nechemiah turn to the Jewish people who are mourning and weeping in the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and tell them, “Do not mourn, weep or be sad. Go your way, eat sumptuously, and drink sweet beverages and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to the Lord.”

“Eat meat, drink wine and rejoice on Rosh Hashanah,” says the Shulchan Aruch. The Talmud Yershalmi points out that a person undergoing trial for an offense carrying capital punishment would don dark clothes and be in a general state of mourning. We Jews, on the other hand, are so confident of God’s mercy that we wear white and festive clothes and celebrate the Day of Judgment.

According to the Bach, Rosh Hashanah is referred to as moed, festival, the same term the Torah uses to describe Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot. And the Psalmist tells us, “tiku b’chodesh shofar bakeseh leyom chageynu” –“Blow the shofar at the new moon on ourfestival.” It follows, then, that the Torah’s injunction v’samachta b’chagecha” – “rejoice on your festivals” – applies equally to Rosh Hashanah. Because celebration and mourning are incompatible, the shiva – the seven-day mourning period for the deceased – is cut short if it commenced before Yom Tov, or is postponed until after Rosh Hashanah if it did not commence before Yom Tov. For this purpose, too, Rosh Hashanah is considered a Yom Tov.

But there is also another side to Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is also referred to as “Yom Teruah,” which Targum Yonatan translates as “Yom Yevava” – a day of sobbing. According to the responsa of the gaonim of the Academy of Surah, one should actually fast on both days of Rosh Hashanah and this was the custom of many rabbis throughout the ages. Indeed, though the halacha rules that one should not fast on Rosh Hashanah, it still permits those who feel they cannot truly repent without fasting to do so. Hallel, the song we sing on the moadim, the festivals, is not sung on Rosh Hashanah. It is inappropriate for us to recite Hallel on the days of Judgement when life and death are in abeyance.

So it seems that Rosh Hashanah is both joyous and somber. For this reason, some of our rabbis permit one to fast half a day until the prayer services are over and others permit fasting one day. All agree, however, that one should not fast at night. Perhaps the Shulchan Aruch sums up the mixed mood best: “One should not eat to the full so that one should not become lightheaded. The fear of God should register on your face.”

And so the Rosh Hashanah meals are full of symbols that remind us of the uniqueness of the day.

Rosh Hashanah Kiddush is made followed by the Shehecheyanu blessing. One then washes one’s hands and recites the Hamotzi blessingover two challot. The challah is then cut and dipped in honey. No blessing is made over the honey as it is covered by the Hamotzi. After swallowing a k’zayit, an olive-size piece of the challah, we recite the prayer “yehi ratzon shetechadesh aleinu shanah tovah u’metukah”– “may it be your will that You renew for us a good and sweet year.” A piece of apple is then dipped in honey, the Boreh Pri Ha’etz blessing is made, the piece of the apple is eaten and then the Yehi Ratzon prayer is recited again and the apple is finished. Some have the custom of eating a pomegranate and reciting the blessing “May it be God’s wish that we should have as many good deeds as a pomegranate has seeds.”

There is some doubt whether the Shehecheyanu blessing should be recited on the first night only, consistent with the view that both days of Rosh Hashanah are actually one long day, or whether it should be recited on the second night too. In order to be safe, it is our custom to have a new fruit or garment on the second night and have in mind both the fruit and the second day of Yom Tov when reciting Shehecheyanu on the second night. Finally, after finishing the meal, some have the custom to learn the mishnayot of Rosh Hashanah.

About the Author: Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

One Response to “Festive Or Somber (Masechet Rosh Hashanah)”

  1. Tommy Formol says:

    had the Talmud rosh hashanah , but leave it in the door natalia oreiro because zohar says that if in five years of study of the Talmud is like resort, it is not mandatory to study, i love tora

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
rocket in a field near Kibbutz Mefalsim
Heaven on Earth (With Rockets)
Latest Judaism Stories
Weiss-072514

Just as the moon waxes, wanes and renews itself, so has the nation of Israel renewed itself through the millennia.

126_masei_web

Parshat Masei: Rabbi Fohrman addresses the age-old question, are we our brother’s keeper?

Hertzberg-072514

When Germany invaded neutral Belgium on August 4, England declared war on Germany. Thus, by the end of the first week of August all the major powers of Europe were at war.

Winiarz-072514

The Talmud teaches that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of baseless hatred.

When taking any major step in life it is a good idea to carefully re-evaluate one’s past.

Ours is a small and intensely vulnerable people. Inspired, we rise to greatness. Uninspired, we fall

The enormity of Hiram’s accomplishments crazed him and deluded him into self-deification.

When Hashem first thought (if it could be) about creating the world, the middah of din was in operation.

Hallel On Purim?
“Its Reading Is Its Praise”
(Megillah 14a)

If the only person available to perform the milah on the eighth day is a person who is not an observant Jew, the milah should be postponed until a devout mohel is available.

It is apparent from the Maharsha that he does not see galus as atoning for killing accidentally; otherwise, this Gemara would not bother him.

It was found to be a giant deer tick living in her head – with its claws in her scalp.

While daydreaming about finding the perfect job, I never expected to be rewarded in spades for my aforementioned experience.

We are all entrusted with the mission of protecting our fellow Jews

Today, we remain Hashem’s nachal.

More Articles from Raphael Grunfeld
Grunfeld-Raphael-NEW

If the only person available to perform the milah on the eighth day is a person who is not an observant Jew, the milah should be postponed until a devout mohel is available.

Grunfeld-Raphael-NEW

The kohen gadol may not enter the Temple unless his hair is cut every seven days.

A commonly employed and permissible device regarding the prohibition of wearing fresh clothes during the Nine Days is to don them for a moment or two before the Nine Days.

The prayer of Mashiv haruach u’morid hageshem mentions God’s rainmaking powers but it is not an immediate request for rain.

According to the Bach, Rosh Hashanah is referred to as moed, festival, the same term the Torah uses to describe Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot.

If the survival of Judaism is dependent on the next generation, there is no doubt that the most important person in the synagogue is the Candy Man.

From this decree on, the two days of Rosh Hashanah, unlike the two days of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, were no longer celebrated out of doubt but out of certainty.

Because the Torah requires one to count “seven complete weeks” one should count at the beginning of the day, which in Jewish law begins on the preceding night.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/festive-or-somber-masechet-rosh-hashanah/2014/06/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: