web analytics
October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘2016’

Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles): Guide for the Perplexed, 2016

Friday, October 14th, 2016

1. Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles(in Hebrew (סכות– named after the first stop in the Exodus, the town of Sukkota (סכותה), Exodus 13:20 and Numbers 33:3-5 – commemorates the transition of the Jewish people from bondage, in Egypt, to sovereignty in the Land of Israel, from nomadic life in the desert to permanence in the Promised Land, from oblivion to deliverance, and from the spiritual state-of-mind during the High Holidays to the mundane of the rest of the year. Sukkot aims at universal – not only Jewish – deliverance.
2. The commandment to erect Sukkot (booths), and celebrate a 7-day-holiday, commemorating the stage of transition, was specified in Leviticus 23:42-43).
3. Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacle) is the only Jewish holiday which is one of the three pilgrimages to Jerusalem (along with Passover and Pentecost) – and therefore named “Holy Reading” – as well as one of the three holidays celebrated during the holy Jewish month of Tishrei (on the 15th day of Tishrei following Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), and therefore named “Shabbaton,” Sabbatical. Sukkot commemorates the beginning of the construction of the Holy Tabernacle in the Sinai desert.
4. Sukkot has played a key role in the reconstruction of the Jewish Homeland and the ingathering of Jews – and their transition – to the Land of Israel. For instance, the town of Sukkot was the first stop of Jacob the Patriarch upon returning, to the Land of Israel, from a 20-year-long work for Laban (Genesis 33:17). Joshua ordered the Jewish people to erect Sukkot (booths) upon settling the Land of Israel. Nehemiah/Ezra (Nehemiah 8: 13-14) renewed the custom of erecting Sukkot upon the ingathering to the Land of Israel, following a 70-year-old exile. Thus, the Hebrew root of Sukkah stands for key characteristics of the relationship between the Jewish people and the Jewish Homeland: Sukkah (סכה) is “wholeness” and “totality” (סכ), the “shelter” of the tabernacle (סכך), “to anoint” (סוך), “divine curtain/shelter” (מסך) and “attentiveness” (סכת).
5. The US covenant with the Jewish State dates back to Columbus Day, which is always celebrated around Sukkot. According to “Columbus Then and Now” (Miles Davidson, 1997, p. 268), Columbus arrived in America on Friday afternoon, October 12, 1492, the 21st day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, in the Jewish year 5235, on the 7th day of Sukkot, Hoshaa’na’ Rabbah, which is a day of universal deliverance and miracles. Hosha’ (הושע) is the Hebrew word for “deliverance” and Na’ (נא) is the Hebrew word for “please.” The numerical value of Na’ is 51 (נ – 50, א – 1), which corresponds to the celebration of Hoshaa’na’ Rabbah on the 51st day following Moses’ ascension up to Mt. Sinai.
6. The first recorded mention of the 7-day-Sukkot celebration was – following the Cyrus Edict – in Nehemiah 8:17: “And all the congregation of them that came out of captivity made booths (Sukkot), and sat under the booths: for since the days of Joshua, the son of Nun, unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.”
7. Sukkot is the 3rd major Jewish holiday – following Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – in the month of Tishrei, the holiest Jewish month. According to Judaism, the number 3 represents divine wisdom, stability, permanence, integration and peace. Three is the total sum of the basic odd (1) and even (2) numbers. The 3rd day of the Creation was blessed twice (“And God observed that it was well done”); God appeared on Mt. Sinai 3 days following Moses’ ascension of the mountain; there are 3 parts to the Bible, 3 Patriarchs, 3 annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem, etc.
8. The Book of Ecclesiastes, written by King Solomon – one of the world’s greatest philosophical documents – is read during Sukkot. It accentuates Solomon’s philosophy of the centrality of God and the importance of morality, humility, family, friendship, historical memory and perspective, patience, long-term thinking, proper timing, realism and knowledge. Ecclesiastes 4:12: “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” The Hebrew name of Ecclesiastes is Kohelet, (קהלת), which is similar to the commandment to celebrate Sukkot – Hakhel (הקהל), to assemble, and the Hebrew word for public.

Yoram Ettinger

e-Edition: October 14, 2016

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Click the image below to read the paper. The new issue will appear every Friday morning. It may take up to one minute for the print edition below to appear.

Once loaded, click on it to view a full page version.

Jewish Press Staff

Community Currents – October 14, 2016

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Jewish Press Staff

All-Time High Israeli Tax Collection: $57 Billion So Far in 2016

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Over the first 9 months of 2016, the Israeli tax authority has collected an unprecedented 216.1 billion shekel, or about $57 billion, a full 5% more than during the same period in 2015, the Finance Ministry’s Accountant General’s Management Information Division reported Sunday. In fact, in September 2016 alone Israel has collected $6.67 billion, 12.3% more than in September 2015.

According to the report, tax collection has far surpassed early forecasts at the Finance Ministry, so much so that the Finance Ministry’s Chief Economist Yoel Naveh in mid-July pushed up the 2016 forecast and set it at 282.5 billion shekel, or $74.5 billion.

The new, record tax collection is expected to impact the government budget deficit. The 2016 budget permits government a deficit of 2.9% of GNP, or as much as $9.23 billion. But based on the tax collection bonanza, it appears government could go on a mad spending spree, especially on security, and still end up with only a 2% of GNP deficit. The accumulating government deficit over the past 12 months stands at only 2.2% of GNP.

Overall, government expenses in September stood at $8.05 billion, out of which expenses came up to $6.7 billion, interest payments on the national debt was $500 million, and interest and repayment of principal to Social Security came to $820 million.

Since the beginning of 2016, government expenses came to $55.28 billion, a 7% rise compared with the same period last year. Of that, civil ministries’ expenses rose by 8.9%, while the security apparatus showed more restraint with only a 2.2% rise in spending. The original budget plan, however, called for an 11.4% rise for civil services, while the security apparatus was actually scheduled to go down by 3.7%.


e-Edition: October 7, 2016

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Click the image below to read the paper. The new issue will appear every Friday morning. It may take up to one minute for the print edition below to appear.

Once loaded, click on it to view a full page version.


Jewish Press Staff

Community Currents – October 7, 2016

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Jewish Press Staff

Rosh Hashanah Guide for the Perplexed 2016

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

1. Rosh Hashanah is one of four Jewish New Years: (a) Rosh Hashanah, the anniversary of the Creation, the beginning of the Jewish civil calendar (5,777) and the seasons, the setting of the Sabbatical (7th) and the Jubilee (50th) years and the figuring of the annual tithe (10%) on vegetable and grains; (b) the first day of the month of Nissan initiates the three Jewish pilgrimages/festivals (Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles) and the measuring of the reign of kings; (c) the first day of the month of Elul, the preparations for Rosh Hashanah and the new year for animal tithes in ancient Israel; (d) the 15th day of the month of Shvat, the new year of the trees, which are role-models for human-beings.

2. Rosh Hashanah – unlike all other Jewish holidays – is a universal (stock-taking, renewal and hopeful) holiday. The Hebrew word “Rosh” (ראש) means “beginning,” “first,” “head,” “chief.” The Hebrew letters of Rosh constitute the root of the Hebrew word for Genesis, “Be’re’sheet” (בראשית), which is the first/lead word in the Bible. Just like the Creation, so should the New Year and our own actions, be a thoughtful, long-term – not a hasty – process. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated at the beginning of the Jewish month of Tishrei, which means beginning/Genesis in ancient Acadian. The Hebrew spelling of Tishrei (תשרי) is also included in the spelling of Genesis (בראשית). Rosh Hashanah is referred to as “Ha’rat Olam” (“the pregnancy of the world” in Hebrew), and its prayers highlight motherhood, optimism and the pregnancies of Sarah, Rachel and Chana, who gave birth to Isaac, Joseph, Benjamin and Samuel respectively. Noah – who led the rebirth of humanity/world – also features in Rosh Hashanah prayers.

3. The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah- “the beginning of the year” in Hebrew) is compatible with the agricultural calendar. It commences with the planting of seeds and the first rain, which highlights the centrality of the soil in human life. The Hebrew word for soil/earth is Adamah ((אדמה, which stands for humility and encompasses the Hebrew word for a human-being (אדמ, pronounced Adam) – which is also the name of the first human-being – and the Hebrew letter ה, which is an abbreviation of God. The Hebrew word Adam (אדמ) encompasses the Hebrew word for blood (דמ), the liquid of life, and is the acronym of Abraham, David and Moses, three role models of humility.

4.  The term Rosh Hashanah, a day of commemoration, was conceived by Jewish sages, during the Second Temple, referring to the Biblical “day of blowing the shofar (the ritual ram’s horn)” and “the day of commemorating the blowing of the shofar” (Leviticus 23:23-25, Numbers 29:1-6). Commemoration is a prerequisite for national cohesion, survival, enhanced future and refraining from past critical errors. On the other hand, forgetfulness spells ignorance, neglect of critical values and lessons, repeat of past errors and potential oblivion. The blowing of the shofar symbolizes faith in God, the annual judgment day, soul-searching and the constant drive to enhance human conduct (the Hebrew spelling of shofar, שופר, is a derivative of the verb שפר, to enhance/improve).

5. Rosh Hashanah and the shofar symbolize and commemorate:

*The reaffirmation of faith in God as the Supreme King and Judge;
*The first human-being, Adam, was created on Rosh Hashanah, the sixth day of Creation, the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrei;
*The opening of Noah’s Ark following the flood;
*The almost-sacrifice of Isaac (thou shall not sacrifice human beings!) and the Covenant of the Jewish People with God;
*The three Jewish Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the Prophet Samuel (the latter inspired Thomas Paine, the author of “Common Sense,” the cement of the American Revolution), were conceived/born during the month of Tishrei, which is called “the month of the strong ones; ”
*The release of Joseph from Egyptian jail;
*Mount Sinai, the Ten Commandments and the Torah;
*The commitment to liberty. The blowing of the Shofar introduced the Jubilee Year, “Yovel” (יובל) in Hebrew, which is a synonym for shofar. The blowing of the shofar represents deliverance from spiritual and physical slavery. It inspired the anti-slavery Abolitionist movement in the USA;
*the reconstruction of the 2nd Temple;
*the ingathering (Aliyah) of Jews to the Jewish Homeland;
*the cycle of nature – seed planting season and the equality of day and night;
*Optimism in the face of daily adversity. Genuine repentance and rectifying one’s behavior warrants forgiveness;
*The fallibility of all human-beings, starting with Adam and including Moses;
*Humility as a critical attribute which minimizes wrong-doing;
*The “ten days of awe/repentance” which are initiated on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kippur.
*The blowing of the Shofar constitutes a moral wakeup call.

6. The three pillars of Rosh Hashanah are repentance ,(תשובה) which – in Hebrew – means returning to good deeds, prayer (תפילה), whose root is פלל, to yearn/hope/judge, and charity ( ,(צדקהwhich – in Hebrew – means doing justice.

7. On Rosh Hashanah, one is expected to plan a spiritual and behavioral road map for the entire year. The three Hebrew words, Te’shuvah (repentance/atonement, תשובה), Sheevah (a spiritual and physical return, שיבה) and Shabbat (the Creation was completed on the Sabbath, שבת) emerge from the same Hebrew root.  They constitute a triangular foundation, whose strength depends upon the depth of education and commemoration. According to King Solomon, “The triangular cord cannot be broken.”

8. The shofar is blown on Rosh Hashanah as a wake-up call, a break away from the professional, social and political mundane, in order to recommit oneself to basic values and enhancing one’s order of priorities.  Blowing the shofar symbolizes a new beginning for each individual and for the Jewish people. The call for moral improvement – at Mount Sinai – was accompanied by the sound of the shofar.

9. The shofar should be humble (bent and not decorated); natural and unassuming, just like Mount Sinai, which is not the highest, or the most impressive, mountain in Sinai. Humility is the foundation of a positive character, in general, and leadership, in particular.

10. The shofar is the epitome of peace-through-strength.  It is made from the horn of a ram, which is a peaceful animal equipped with strong horns to fend off predators. The numerical value of the Hebrew word for “ram,” איל, is 41 (א-1, י-10, ל-30), which is equal to the value of “mother” (אם, א-1, ם-40), who strongly protects her children.

11. While the blowing of the shofar is a major virtue, the Torah instructs Jews to listen to the blowing of the shofar. The Hebrew root of “listening,” האזנה is Ozen, ear (אוזן), which contains the balancing mechanism in our body (אזון).  Ozen is also the root for “Scale” (מאזניים), which is the zodiac sign of the month of Tishrei.  Both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (when people balance their good deeds vs. bad deeds) are observed during the month of Tishrei.

12. The three ways of blowing the shofar express human-being’s inner constant values (Te’kiyah), the tenacious human marathon through success and failure (She’va’rim), and the determined pursuit of faith-driven long-term vision (Troo’ah).

13. The three series of blowing the Shofar represent the faith of mankind in God (Malkhooyot), the centrality of history/commemoration/roots and God’s Covenant with the Jewish People (Zichronot), and repentance/enhancement (Shofarot).

14. The three different soundings of the Shofar represent the three Patriarchs (Abraham’s tenacity, fighting capabilities and forgiveness; Isaac’s benevolence; Jacob’s truthfulness), the three parts of the Bible and the three types of human beings (pious, evil and mediocre), all of whom are worthy of a “second chance.”>

15. Rosh Hashanah services include 101 soundings of the shofar, which is equal to the numerical value of the Hebrew spelling of Michael (מיכאל), one of the four Guardian Angels.

16. The pomegranate – one of the seven species that bless the Land of Israel – is featured during Rosh Hashanah: “May you be credited with as many rewards as the seeds of the pomegranate.” The pomegranate ripens in time for Rosh Hashanah and contains – genetically – 613 seeds, which is the number of Jewish statues/laws. The pomegranate was employed as an ornament of the Holy Arc, the holy Menorah (candelabrum), the coat of the High Priest and the Torah Scrolls. The first two letters of the Hebrew word for pomegranate (רמון, pronounced Rimon) – which is known for its crown – mean sublime (Ram, רמ). The pomegranate (skin and seeds) is a uniquely healthy fruit: high in iron, anti-oxidants, anti-cancer. It decreases blood pressure and enhances the quality of blood and the cardiac and digestion systems. Rimon is a Hebrew metaphor for a gifted person: “wholesome like a pomegranate.”

17. Honey is included in Rosh Hashanah meals in order to sweeten the coming year. The bee is the only insect which produces essential food.  It is a community-oriented, constructive and a diligent creature.  The Hebrew spelling of bee (דבורה) is identical to “the word of God” (דבור-ה’), and Devorah דבורה))was one of the seven Jewish prophetesses.

{More on Rosh Hashanah and additional Jewish holidays: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/499393}

Yoram Ettinger

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/holidays/rosh-hashanah-guide-for-the-perplexed-2016/2016/10/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: