Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yom Kippur Preparation

When you're sitting in synagogue it's sometimes hard to follow or always be interested in what's happening during the services. No worries, that's part of being human. What you can do is plan ahead.

Go to these two websites and print out ahead of the holiday - this year Yom Kippur lands on Shabbat, from Friday night to Saturday night - the information that's assembled here and bring it with you to services:'s Yom Kippur Reader's Yom Kippur Guide

I also recommend this book: The Rosh HaShanah Yom Kippur Survival Kit by Shimon Apisdorf. Very worthwhile reading (along with his other books). You can find his books at your local Jewish book store - and probably at your Barnes & Noble as well.

The goal on Yom Kippur is not to watch the clock and count how many pages are left until the service is over. The goal is to return to G-d, our King, our Creator, our Father in Heaven who loves us. Take the time think about how you can improve that relationship with Him. Many times we don't take the time to prepare for a holiday - we are too busy running errands or working to properly think about a holiday before we light candles and begin. I suggest that we take five minutes - right now - to go print out these Yom Kippur guides in order to have them to read at the synagogue (and if you have a moment, to read beforehand as well).

Here's a link to Holiday Candle Lighting.

To find free services, click here.

Gmar Chatima Tova.
May we all have a healthy, successful and peaceful upcoming year.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rosh HaShanah and You

In the last article I mentioned the blessing Asher Yatzar. The more I've been thinking about it - the more amazing a blessing I think it is.
Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has formed man in wisdom, and created within him numerous orifices and cavities. It is revealed and known before the Throne of Your Glory that if but one of them were to be blocked, or one of them were to be opened, it would be impossible to exist even for a short while. Blessed are You Lord, who heals all flesh and performs wonders.

What I find interesting is that the same G-d who created the universe, is the One who created each individual walking the Earth. The same detail that went into creating the world and all we find in it - is the same amazing detail we find in ourselves, in our bodies.

In Judaism, each person is considered an olam katan - a miniature world. At this point we should also consider that Rosh HaShanah is not the birthday of the world - but is really the birthday of man. Adam and Eve were created on the first Rosh HaShanah.

The world was created for people to use and therefore the importance of mankind should not be overlooked. That being said, let us paraphrase a semi-famous statement: "with great power comes great responsibility".

G-d gives us a tremendous power - the power to choose. We have free will to make our decisions. He's given us all our strengths and talents in order to choose the correct path.
See - I have placed before you today the life and the good, the death and the evil, that which I command you today, to love HaShem, your G-d, to walk in His ways, to observe His commandments, His decrees, and His ordinances; then you will live and you will multiply, and HaShem, your G-d will bless you... [Deuteronomy 30:15]

Rosh HaShanah is the holiday where we recognize that our Creator, the one who fashioned us is also our King. It is the realization that our individuality and the innate gifts that we posses are given to us by something greater than ourselves.

Rosh HaShanah is there as a reality check for us -
1 - People as a whole are the pinnacle of creation. The world is there for us to use and to make better.
2 - Each individual - you - has importance. You were created for a reason by the Creator of the entire universe.
3 - Rosh HaShanah is there to recognize the King of the universe and to realize that who we are depends entirely on Him.

Rosh HaShanah presents us with a new start and new opportunities. Let us take take stock of who we are and where we are in our lives and move forward, using every gift given to us by our Creator, the King.

I want to wish everyone a healthy, successful and sweet New Year.