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unique magazine you hold in your hands will help you re-Jew-vinate and will feed your Jewish mind and heart. May this year be a sweet year of blessing for you and your family, and let us pray that by igniting our soul, by inspiring our minds, the world around us will follow. And soon we will all be blessed with the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days. Wishing you a sweet New Year, Sincerely, Rabbi Ely Rosenfeld

AT E R G H C N U LA zalmy berkowitz photography

. S A E D I

PRODUCED BY: Chabad Fox Chapel Rabbi Ely Rosenfeld

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EDITOR: Rosenfeld EDITOR INShternie CHIEF: Rabbi Shm d


MANAGING EDITOR: Shira Gol DESIGNER: Nikki O’Gorman EDITOR: Bluma Marcus

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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Georgia Atkin, DISTRIBUTION: Rabbi Avraha ma Men Yosef Y. Jacobson, Angela Goldstein, Shais Taub, CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Necha arcus Tzvi Freeman, Emily Levenson DESIGN: Zalmy Berkowitz

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THANKS and PHOTOGRTO: APHY:Binah Zalmy Berkowi Green

SECTION EDITORS: Fay Kranz e, Rashi Brashevitsky, WEBSITE: Rabbi Shais Taub

Mauri CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: s Friece Lamm, Jon Taba Rabbi Zalman Kantor, Rabbi Manine an dman, Rochel Prits

k, SPECIAL THANKS: Shalom Lai om, Cd, ker Pinkerson, Boruch Cohen, Kehot.c Bill The Spark Magazine is published WEBSITE: www.SoulWiseMagazi m by Chabad Fox Chapel, ies pri 1343 Old Freeport Rd, Pittsburgh, tion o ©2012 by Soulwise Magazine 250,000 copsent to nted internationally) All rig PA (Over 15238 and is our her, exc reserved, including the right toMembers reproduce any porFriends f is magazine in any form and without prior written permission from the publis eptthe by a reviewer who wish hts infrequently throughout , to quote brief passages. year. Issue # 37 es Printed in the USA

High Holidays 5774

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Rosh Hashanah Wines Rosh Hashanah Wines The High HIgh Holiday Holiday season seasonisisaatime timeofofnew newbeginnings beginningsand andpotential. potential. Around Around the thefestive festivetable tablewith with friends family, The friends andand family, wishes of wishes of health, happiness and peace are exchanged. Menus usually include a mix of traditional sweet foods such as kugels health, happiness and peace are exchanged. Menus usually include a mix of traditional sweet foods such as kugels and tzimmes and and tzimmes and alternative, lighter fare, that incorporate ingredients such as pomegranates, dried cherries or maple syrup. alternative, lighter fare, that incorporate ingredients such as pomegranates, dried cherries or maple syrup. These meals present an opportunity to pair foods with fine wines from Israel. In the past ten years, the Israeli wine industry These meals present opportunity to pairrecognition. foods with fine from Israel. In the tenwines years, to thereceive Israeli wine industry has received a newan level of worldwide It iswines now commonplace for past Israeli awards in has received a new level of worldwide recognition. It is now commonplace for Israeli wines to receive awards in international competitions. international competitions. The American Jewish community should also be proud of this achievement as it representsThe a significantJewish importer of Israeli wineriers. American community should also be proud of this achievement as it represents a significant importer of Israeli wineriers. Here are arethree threeselections selections from wineries leaders inIsraeli the Israeli renaissance. Here from wineries thatthat are are leaders in the wine wine renaissance. The wines highlighted below are just one of the varietials that they offer. The wines highlighted below are just one of the varietials that they offer. FLAM Rosé 2012 Judean $29.95 FLAM Hills Rosé 2012 Judean Hills $29.95 A dry Rose. Aromas and A dry Rose. Aromasraspand flavors of cherries, flavors of berries andcherries, cassis fruits. raspberries and cassis fruits. Goes well with fruit soups Goes well with fruit soups and orasasan an and fish fish dishes dishes -- or apertif, served before the apertif, served before the main main course. course.

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I am a complicated Jew

and if you’re wondering whether or not you qualify as a “complicated” Jew, you are too. While studying for his PhD in psychology, my father and his classmates learned how to administer personality tests by taking the tests themselves. One Monday morning, the students waited in the classroom for the professor to arrive with the results of the personality test they had taken the previous Friday. One of the students groaned, “I was so nervous all weekend to find out the results of my personality test that I almost drove my car into a tree.” At that moment, the professor walked in. It was clear that he had overheard the student’s comment. He looked at the nervous student and said, “You don’t need to wait for any results.”

So, if you have to ponder whether or not you are a complicated Jew, you have your answer right there. A simple Jew doesn’t ponder such things, not

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE that he’s unintelligent. Oh sure, some simple Jews are unintelligent, but then again, some are quite bright, even brilliant. "Simple" has nothing to do with intellectual prowess. There are simple Jews who are astrophysicists. Simple Jews can be very smart, but no matter how smart they are, if you ask a simple Jew a simple question like “Are you Jewish?” they’ll give you a simple answer. A complicated Jew, on the other hand, gives you a complicated answer. He has to qualify it with all sorts of disclaimers. The answer to, “Are you Jewish?” becomes “It depends what you mean by Jewish.” The simple Jew understands that “Are you Jewish?” is a yes-or-no question and there’s no commentary needed. This clarity can make complicated Jews nervous and we dismiss it as “black-and-white thinking,” “extreme,” “one-dimensional,” or “shallow.” As complicated Jews, we revel in our sophistication allowing us to explore the ambiguities of every issue. However, does analysis really equal smart? As we analyze this statement, being a simple Jew doesn’t necessarily make you unintelligent, so too being an analytically, over-thinking Jew doesn’t automatically make you clever. There’s a difference between intelligence and thought. For instance, think of driving directions to the airport. Are you thinking them now? Great. Were you thinking them ten minutes ago? Probably not. Did you know directions to the airport ten minutes ago? Probably yes. There is a difference between knowing and thinking. Just like you can know something and not be thinking about it, so too, you can know a lot of things and not be a big thinker. Conversely, you can also know very little, and still be a very busy thinker. Practically, what does this mean? It means that I can spend a lot of time analyzing and contemplating, and it doesn’t make me smart. Or I can not think that much and still be very intelligent. Luckily, Yom Kippur is the one day a year that we all become simple Jews. Yes, even complicated Jews such as ourselves, get to become simple for a day. When we become

simple, everything gets set straight again. Everything becomes clear. What is it about Yom Kippur that makes it so uncomplicated?

shown up out of the blue, and you ask them, “Why did you come to shul today?” What do you suppose they’ll say? “Well, that’s an interesting question.” They’ll probably have some interesting answer, some fascinating story about why they were suddenly inspired to come to shul. But you won’t TODAY? WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE?” hear an interesting story about why someone showed up to Kabbalisticly on Yom Kippur, the fifth level shul on Yom Kippur. of your soul, or the fifth degree of your What’s the difference between the Yom individual spirituality, is revealed. In short, Kippur reason for suddenly showing up in there are five levels of the soul; 1) the energy shul and the rest-of-the-year reason for of holy behaviors, 2) the energy of holy suddenly showing up in shul? The difference emotions, 3) the energy of holy intellect, 4) is that the rest of the year, I feel like I need to the energy of faith and 5) the essence that explain my Jewishness. On Yom Kippur, transcends all these. what’s there to explain? That’s why we pray three times a day on a normal day in order to gain access to levels one, two, and three. On Shabbat and holidays, we add a fourth prayer and we can feel level four. Only on Yom Kippur we have five prayers in a single day, which means that we get in touch with that fifth level, the essence of the soul that just is. We refrain from eating and drinking, from working, and from all mundane pursuits, getting away from doing so that we can just start "being". Hence, the angelic pure white robes, the kittel, that many are accustomed to wear. It’s reminiscent of simple burial shrouds, reminding us that no matter what kind of complicated clothes we wear in this lifetime, we all go to the grave as equals. Or like they say, at the end of the game, both the king and the pawn get p u t away in t h e “WHY AM I HERE? same wooden box. I always appreciate what’s happening on Yom Kippur when I talk to a “one-day-a-year” Jew. Try it. Stand outside your synagogue on Yom Kippur and speak to the man or woman who you’ve never seen before and ask him or her, “What are you doing here today? What brought you here?” You’ll get a funny look, like you just fell off of the moon. If they even dignify such a silly question with a response it will be more of a string of questions than an answer. “Why am I here?" " Why are you here?" "Where else should I be?" "Maybe my calendar is wrong?" "It’s not Yom Kippur?” Basically, I’m a Jew and I’m in shul. It’s all very simple. If you need to understand it, then you’re the strange one. But imagine any other day of the year. You see a newcomer in shul, someone who’s just

That’s what it’s like to be a simple Jew. So, how does this clean up the past and send us fresh and clean into a new year? On Yom Kippur, when we all become simple Jews, then everything else ceases to matter. Oh, sure, if you want to be complicated you can point out all sorts of contradictions in my life. You can show me how I haven’t exactly been acting like a Jew all year. The arguments and the logic are all well and good for another time. We’ll analyze that stuff later and fix whatever we need to fix. But at this moment, the contradictions are irrelevant. All that matters is the simple truth. I am a Jew. Everything else I’ve done to contradict myself all year suddenly disappears.


Ah, to be a simple Jew, to have clarity even if for a moment. This Yom Kippur, when your own Jewishness needs no justification, try to remember what that feels like. Even when you get your complicated brain back the next day, hang on to that clarity of who you are. Are there aspects of your life that are in conflict with or even antithetical to your identity? Nu. Maybe there are. So you’ll work on that. But none of that changes the reality of who you are. You’re a Jew. It’s that simple. Rabbi Shais Taub is a noted author and lecturer. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife and children

High Holidays 5774

“The Keeping of Bees is like the Direction of Sunbeams.” Who doesn’t love the sweet taste of honey? It is a culinary treat that coats the senses with happiness. Eating apples dipped in honey is a New Year tradition that expresses our yearning for a sweet year and the aroma of freshly baked honey cake wafting from the oven can tempt even the diehard dieter to try a bite. In ancient times, honey was appreciated for its delicate flavor. It was fermented with water and/or yeast to make wine, the mead of lore. In modern times, we appreciate honey’s healthful benefits as an anti-oxidant, a natural energy booster, and mixed with tea and lemon, a homemade soother of the discomforts of the common cold. So what elaborate equipment is needed and to which mysterious clime must we travel to discover how to produce this exotic product? It turns out we need look no further than our own neighborhood where local beekeeper Craig Jahnke has maintained twenty hives on his Fox Chapel area property for more than five years. Craig became intrigued by beekeeping when a friend introduced him to the process. When he realized how simple it was to get started, he purchased the bees from beekeepers in Georgia and California, bought a smoker and protective clothing and let the magic of beekeeping unfurl. Craig explained that the hive operates like a community in which each of its inhabitants has a

specific role. The center of the hive is the queen bee, of which there is only one. Her job is to lay the eggs that will keep the hive populated. Next are the worker bees, whose job descriptions vary. There are nurse bees, who tend to the cells and larvae, undertakers, who cart away the dead, guards, who protect the entrance of the hive, and scouts, who seek out nectar. These scouts travel as far as five miles to discover flowering trees and plants. After completing their reconnaissance, they return to the hive and execute the most amazing phenomenon, transmitting their findings to the other bees by doing what has been described as a “waggle dance.” The scouts shake their abdomens producing a buzzing sound and this sound combined with the beating of their wings, communicates the distance to the forage site to the other bees. This fantastic dance language was first observed and noted by Aristotle in 330 B.C.E. and described by Karl von Frisch of Munich in 1967 in his book, The Dance Language and Orientation of Bees. Karl received the Nobel Prize in 1973 for his groundbreaking research. As for Craig’s bees, they enjoy the nectar from neighborhood trees like the Black Locust, Tulip Poplar, and Basswood, and so their honey has a distinctly local flavor. Craig collects and bottles the

honey, which, by the way is kosher, twice a year. In spring, the honey is a light colored and delicately flavored version and in the fall, the honey is a more robust and almost reddish-brown variety. Craig calls his honey Hannah’s Honey, and you can order his products through your local Chabad Center. But Craig’s beekeeping is not primarily a commercial venture. He is amazed by the intricacies of the process and the unique ability of the bees to produce their own food supply. His admiration for the bees and our appreciation of his enterprise, puts us in the august company of that noted honey connoisseur, Winnie the Pooh, who remarks in A.A. Milne’s, The House at Pooh Corner, “The only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey and the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it.” Georgia Atkin is a freelance writer living in O’Hara Twp., PA.

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Rosh Hashanah

Yom Kippur

Unlike a typical New Year celebration, the Jewish New Year is a time of awe and solemnity. Rosh Hashanah means, “head of the year.” Just as the head controls the body, Rosh Hashanah contains the potential for life, blessing and sustenance for the entire year. On Rosh Hashanah, the birthday of Adam and Eve, we renew our relationship with G-d and are evaluated, together with all of humanity. The words we read in the machzor, the holiday prayer book, help us channel our feelings. The shofar awakens our hearts to the awesome power of the day and trumpets our acceptance of G-d as our Master. Our actions on Rosh Hashanah set the tone for the year to come. During the Tashlich service, we symbolically “cast” our sins into the water. We eat apples dipped in honey, wishing for a good and sweet year, and eat new fruits symbolizing new beginnings. This is reflected in the words that we say during Rosh Hashanah, “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

After the sin of the Golden Calf, Moses fasted and prayed for 40 days on behalf of the Jewish people. On Yom Kippur, G-d proclaimed, “I have forgiven.” Yom Kippur means “day of atonement” and is the holiest day of the year. Before Yom Kippur, we observe the Kapparot service by rotating a fowl or money over our heads, which we then give to the poor. On Yom Kippur, we do not eat, drink, wash, use perfume, have marital relations or wear leather shoes. It is a custom to wear white, symbolic of purity. Yom Kippur begins with Kol Nidrei, expressing our timeless commitment to G-d. We ask for G-d’s forgiveness, enumerating our shortcomings with the resolve to strengthen our connection with Him. The prayers are phrased in the plural, for all Jews are considered one soul, responsible for each other. Yom Kippur reveals the essence of the Jewish soul, a spark of G-d united with its Source. The final prayer of Yom Kippur, when our judgment for the coming year is sealed, is called Ne’ilah, “closing the gate,” which culminates with the final sounding of the shofar.

September 4-6

Checklist for Rosh Hashanah: (See inside for more information)  Candlelighting, both nights  Kiddush and festive meals, both nights and both days  Apple dipped in honey, first night  New fruit is enjoyed, second night  Hear the shofar  Visit a body of water for Tashlich


September 18-25 Sukkot, the season of rejoicing, means “huts,” reminiscent of the temporary shelters in which the Jewish people dwelled in the desert. lso called the Festival of Ingathering, Sukkot is the time that the produce from the field, orchard and vineyard is collected. It is one of three Pilgrimage Festivals when Jews would travel to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, demonstrating their unity. We express this unity by blessing the Four Kinds: The lulav (palm branch), etrog (citron), haddasim (myrtle) and aravot (willow). During the seven days of Sukkot, we eat our meals outdoors in the sukkah. The sukkah is the only mitzvah that encompasses us, symbolizing the “clouds of glory,” which surrounded and protected the Jewish people upon leaving Egypt. Hoshanah Rabbah, the last day of Sukkot, means “great salvation,” and marks the end of our judgment period, which began on Rosh Hashanah. We traditionally tap the floor with a bundle of willow branches, and ask G-d to seal our inscription for a sweet year. Checklist for Sukkot: (See inside for more information)  Candlelighting, first two nights  Kiddush and festive meals, first two nights and first two days  Eat all meals in the sukkah  Bless the Four Kinds each day, except Shabbat  On Hoshanah Rabbah, eat festive meal and tap the aravot (willow branches)

September 13-14

Checklist for Yom Kippur: (See inside for more information)  Kapparot and charity, before Yom Kippur  Two festive meals, before the fast  Yahrzeit memorial candle is lit before Yom Kippur (if applicable)  Candlelighting, before sunset  Fast, from before sundown until after nightfall  Yizkor memorial prayers, during daytime services  Break the fast after the Havdalah service, marking the end of the holiday

Shemini Atzeret/ Simchat Torah September 25 & 27

Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are the culmination of the holidays of Tishrei. On Shemini Atzeret, which means “the eighth day that concludes the festival,” some customarily eat their meals in the sukkah. In the synagogue, we dance Hakafot with the Torah—processions amid singing and dancing—and pray for rains of blessing. Simchat Torah, which means “rejoicing with the Torah,” is celebrated with exuberant dancing. Completing the annual cycle of reading the Torah, we read the final section of the Torah, after which we immediately start to read it again. The rest of the year, we approach the Torah with serious study. On Simchat Torah, we approach the Torah with joyful dance. This holiday emphasizes that the Torah is the inheritance of every single Jew. By starting to read the Torah anew, we demonstrate that learning never ends, especially when it comes to the Torah and its infinite wisdom. Checklist for Shemini Atzeret/ Simchat Torah: (See inside for more information)  Candlelighting, both nights  Kiddush and festive meals, both nights and both days  Dance Hakafot, both nights and second day  Yizkor memorial prayers, first day

The Shofar

Your Personal Wake-up Call Blown both days of Rosh Hashanah, except Shabbat, and at the end of Yom Kippur. “After the blowing of the shofar, a new, more sublime Divine light descends, so sublime a light as has yet never shone since the Creation of the world.” (Tanya) One hundred sounds are blown from the shofar each day of Rosh Hashanah. The shofar is a ram’s horn, the oldest and most primitive of wind instruments, yet its call touches the innermost chords of the soul. Its sound is simple and plaintive—a cry from the heart, like that of a lost child for its parent. It is a call to evaluate our actions and improve our ways, as expressed in the verse: “Awake sleepers from your sleep; slumberers. Arise from your slumber–examine your deeds, return and remember your Creator.” The shofar proclaims the coronation of G-d as King of the Universe and brings to mind great events that involved a ram’s horn. After the binding of Isaac, Abraham sacrificed a ram in place of his son; this ram's horn was blown 363 years later when the Jewish people gathered at Sinai to receive the Torah; its horn will also herald the coming of Moshiach and the final redemption of the Jewish people.


Fishing for Wisdom Performed before sunset on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (or second day, if first occurs on Shabbat). “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean floor.” (Tashlich liturgy) Before sunset on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Tashlich (“cast away") is observed. We visit the bank of a river, lake, or any stretch of water containing live fish, and recite special prayers. The words of the prophet Micah, which are recited at Tashlich, contain the meaning behind this custom: “[G-d] will cast our transgressions into the depth of the sea.” The Kabbalah teaches that water symbolizes kindness, and fish remind us of the ever-watchful eye of G-d’s providence. Fish have no eyelids, so their eyes are always open. The creatures of the sea symbolize unity with the Divine. Righteous people are termed “fish of the sea”—just as fish are encompassed by the sea, the righteous are absorbed in the waters of Torah, completely united with G-d.

High Holidays 5774

Teshuvah “Repentance” Return to Sender

Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. “Teshuvah redeems the Source of the soul from its exile and returns the flow of the Divine manifestation to its proper place.” (The Zohar) Although often translated as repentance, teshuvah really means “return”—a return to the true inner self that is always connected to its Source. The path of teshuvah begins with sincere regret for our transgressions and the resolve to abandon those ways. It is also the desire to come closer to G-d through prayer and increased performance of mitzvot, particularly the giving of charity to the poor, which “redeem” the soul from spiritual captivity. In the words of The Zohar, teshuvah returns the Divine presence, the Source of the soul, from

Kol Nidrei

Look at Our Hearts, Not Our Clothes Heard the night of Yom Kippur. “Let our vows not be considered vows; let our oaths not be considered oaths.” (Kol Nidrei) The first prayer of Yom Kippur, as the sun is setting, is Kol Nidrei, the cancellation of vows. The significance of this prayer dates back to the persecution of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th Century, when Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism under the threat of death. Outwardly, the Jews behaved like their Spanish neighbors, but in private they remained devout. Once a year they would gather in secret, declaring Kol Nidrei to vow their commitment to Judaism, despite their seemingly Catholic lives. Kol Nidrei was their proclamation that their external behavior was not who they were. Our souls are cloaked in external garments, which are simply not us. Though we may think, talk and act in ways incongruous to our Jewishness, that is not who we truly are. On Yom Kippur, we hope to transcend our outer garments and reach our inner souls.

The Sukkah

Dances with the Torah

Sukkot is a seven-day festival. “It is fitting that all of Israel should dwell in a single sukkah.” (Talmud)

Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. “The Torah wants to circle the bimah and dance; since it cannot, we become its ‘feet,’ transporting the Torah around the reading table, just as feet transport the head.” (Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch)

Seven Days Under His Roof

A sukkah is an outdoor structure, where we dwell during the Festival of Sukkot in symbolic demonstration of our faith in G-d's providence. Its roof is composed of vegetation such as evergreen branches, cornhusks or bamboo stalks. “Sukkah is the only mitzvah into which a person enters with his muddy boots,” goes the Chassidic saying. The sukkah, its walls and roofing, encompass us entirely. Our whole being—from our intellect and emotion down to the tips of our toes—is involved with this mitzvah. The Zohar teaches that on each of the seven days of Sukkot, we are joined in our sukkah by seven spiritual Ushpizin, honored guests: Abraham, representing the divine sefira (attribute) of chesed, kindness; Isaac, representing gevurah, restraint; Jacob, representing tifferet, beauty and balance; Moses representing netzach, eternity and perseverance; Aaron, representing hod, splendor; Joseph, representing yesod, spiritual foundation, and King David, representing malchut, sovereignty. The sukkah encompasses its visitors in unison. In this way, the sukkah reveals the simple and beautiful oneness of a people rooted in the oneness of their Creator. When all of Israel dwells in a single sukkah, our unity transcends our differences.

Feel the Beat

All reserve disappears in the exuberant dancing of Simchat Torah. Every Jew, learned and unsophisticated, feels a natural desire to take a Torah in his arms and dance. Simchat Torah taps a point in the soul that defies the differences that exist between one Jew and another. The source for this happiness is of course the Torah. Yet throughout the entire Hakafot dances, the Torah is never opened; we dance holding it wrapped in its mantle. Though the Torah is usually associated with disciplined study, on Simchat Torah we approach it differently, singing and dancing in a manner that bears no apparent relationship to understanding. We are lifted beyond the realm of our individual identities and become the “feet of the Torah.” These celebrations reveal that our bond with G-d and the Torah is unconfined by the limits of intellect. Moreover, this celebration anticipates the ultimate celebrations that will accompany the coming of Moshiach and the advent of the Era of the Redemption. May we merit it now.

The Four Kinds

All Four One and One Four All Performed each day of Sukkot, except for Shabbat. “G-d says, ‘Let them be bound together in one bond, and these will atone for those.’” (Midrash) The unity of the Jewish people is expressed by blessing the Four Kinds: • mitzvot. • mitzvot. • • individual makes up for that which is lacking in the others. The Four Kinds also represent four personas within each individual: Lulav is the intellectual within, who does not allow feeling to cloud the purity of knowledge; hadas is the emotional self, where feelings comprise the highest ideal, even at the expense of intellect; etrog is the force that strives for balance of mind and heart, while aravah is the capacity for setting aside both intellect and feeling in commitment to a Higher ideal.

C O N T I N U E D . .


Rosh Hashanah


Rosh Hashanah celebrates the creation of Adam and Eve. When Adam was created, his soul so irradiated his being, that all the creatures wanted to crown him as their creator. Adam corrected them, saying, “Come, let us worship, let us bow down and kneel before G-d our Maker” (The Zohar). At that moment, he actualized the universe’s potential—to become one with the Divine. It is only through the creation of Adam (humanity) that the separate elements of the universe can unite with one purpose. Only we have the power to elevate physicality into something spiritual. When a ram’s horn is blown on Rosh Hashanah, the animal kingdom is elevated. When we make a blessing before eating an apple dipped in honey, we elevate the organic kingdom. On this day, we realize the potential and responsibility we have as human beings.

The spiritual light we achieve during the High Holidays through prayer, meditation and fasting is again achieved on Sukkot, but through joy. What we accomplish through blowing the shofar is now accomplishedby placing the s’chach branches on the roof of our sukkah. (The word s’chach has the numerical value of 100, equaling the amount of sounds blown from the shofar during Rosh Hashanah.) The seven days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur can elevate each day of the coming year; the seven days of Sukkot elevate the coming year with joy and spirituality. The cloud of incense offered in the Holy Temple on Yom Kippur is a manifestation of the “clouds of glory” that protected the Jews leaving Egypt; a physical sukkah is the spiritual manifestation of these clouds. Joy is not logical; it is aboveour comprehension. Our Sages teach, “joy breaks all boundaries.” Through joy, Sukkot gives us the power to reach our spiritual potential, by breaking our intellectual boundaries.

Celebrating Our Potential

An Endless Joy

Yom Kippur The Soul Essence

Yom Kippur has a special power, for whether one repents or does not repent, Yom Kippur atones.” To quote Maimonides, “The essence of the day atones.” The soul has many levels. Though it is a spiritual entity, there is a level that is affected by our physical transgressions. For this level of the soul, repentance is required to reattach it to G-dliness. However, the essence of the soul is literally one with G-d and cannot be affected by our physicality. On Yom Kippur, G-d reveals this essence that is hidden throughout the year. The Hebrew word kapparah has a connotation of “scrubbing”— meaning that on Yom Kippur, we can scrub off our transgressions and connect with our essence.

Shemini Atzeret/ Simchat Torah Simply Divine

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot are considered our engagement with G-d’s Will. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah constitute our wedding, the time of “Intimacy with the Divine.” A wedding brings two people together in happiness and fulfillment. Simchat Torah means “the joy of the Torah,” because we bring joy to the Torah when we bring her into our lives. Our soul comes from the essence of the Divine; the Torah is the manifestation of the Divine Will. It is only when the soul (clothed in a body) adheres to the Torah, that the Divine Will is actualized and fulfilled. When we dance with the Torah on Simchat Torah, G-d’s essence and His Torah are reunited, bringing purpose and fulfillment to each other.

Jewish New Year). Every year I do this—blow shofar in the hospitals. Every year, at least one person cries. This year there was a bubbeh who didn’t seem so old. She was very with-it. The sight of a shofar filled her with excitement. She poured out to me memories of her childhood; it seemed the past had just come awake for her. She had grown up steeped in chassidic warmth and soul, and even here in Vancouver it had never left her. She recited the blessing, and I began to blow the shofar softly but clearly. The tears began to come. I’m used to that already; I just keep going. But when I finished, that’s when it was obvious that G-d was there in the room. Because she was talking to Him. “Oy, zisseh G-tt! Tayereh, zisseh G-tt! Mein zisseh G-tt!” She was crying and she was holding G-d in her hands. The hands of an old bubbeh holding an infinite, timeless G-d.

BY TZVI FREEMAN Once, I had a divine revelation. It was on the holy day of Rosh Hashanah, but I wasn’t in the synagogue. I was in a hospital on that very wet morning, in a sterile and depressing geriatrics rehab ward, where a few old bubbies had gathered to hear the sounding of the shofar (the ram’s horn sounded on the

She called Him “ziss.” I had never heard that before. “Ziss” I had heard applied to desserts and to grandchildren. The Psalms of David and the Song of Songs talked about the Almighty in that way. But this was an old bubbeh. Her voice had that tone of love and compassion, yet she was filled with awe. She was crying wth sorrow, with joy, with pain, with longing . . . yet her words were sweet ecstasy. I can’t translate those words she said. It doesn’t

work in English. “My dear sweet G-d.” It just doesn’t happen. Because in English you don’t talk to G-d the way a wife talks to her beloved husband, a husband who went away on a distant journey and you never knew if he would return, and now you’re suddenly in his arms. Like a mother talks to her small, sweet children, and like a daughter talks to her father who she knows will never abandon her. All in one. In English there is no such thing. But in the Yiddish of her childhood, she could say it. For me, her cries smashed through the most profound journeys of the philosophers, popping them like a child pops bubbles in the air, like shadows disappear in the sunshine. They had no meaning here. They are ideas. This is G-d. The real thing. This was revelation. Something the old bubbies had back there, back then. Something we had lost. Almost. I had to leave to go to the synagogue. She was still in tears. I discovered I was smiling. You’ll think I’m insensitive, but I was helpless before this deep, uplifting joy that just arose from inside. She cried. I was full of joy. Why shouldn’t I be? I had just seen G-d face to face. Unzer zisseh G-tt. Rabbi Tzvi Freeman is the senior editor at, and also heads the Ask The Rabbi team

Shternie’s Recipe Corner Zucchini Loaf Some people call it bread; I think of it as a cake. To compromise, let's call it a loaf. By any moniker, it's moist, filling and delicious. Eat it for breakfast, snack or dessert - for any and all of them, it's a winner.

Ingredients: • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour • 1 tsp. cinnamon • 1/2 tsp. salt • 1/2 tsp. baking soda • 1/4 tsp. baking powder • 1/2 cup oil • 2 eggs • 3/4 cup sugar • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract • 2 medium zucchini, unpeeled and shredded

Directions: Preheat oven to 375. Grease an 8"x 4" loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients besides the zucchini. (The batter will appear stiff.) Add the shredded zucchini and mix well to combine. Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Apple Pear Crumble This delicious crumble makes a delightful side dish or dessert. The crumbles are so good, you’ll want to eat them all year!

Ingredients: Crumble: • 2 cups potato starch • 1 cup sugar • 1 egg • ¾ cup oil • ½ cup ground nuts Filling: • 4 Cortland apples • 4 pears • ¼ cup sugar • 1 tsp. cinannom

Directions: Mix crumb ingredients together by hand. Thinly slice apples and pears in the food processor. Mix in the sugar and cinnamon. Pour half the crumb mixture into a 9 x 13” pan. Lay the apple-pear mixture on top of the crumbs and cover with the remaining crumbs, Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours, or until the filling starts to bubble through the top crumbs.

Tip: This crumble looks beautiful when prepared in an oven-to-table dish.

Souls in the Rain BY YOSEF Y. JACOBSON

If G-d is "perfect," as Judaism says, what prompted Him to create the universe? What void was He seeking to fill? The answer provided in Jewish Mysticism is that G-d desired marriage. Marriage necessitates the existence of someone distinct from yourself with whom to share your life, a union of husband and wife. G-d chose humanity as His bride. What a marriage this has been--a roller coaster of romance, affection, quarrels and estrangement. In every generation, many counselors advocated a divorce while others proclaimed the Groom dead. Yet, the relationship has endured because both partners intrinsically know that they belong together. When all veils are removed, man manifestly yearns for union with G-d. According to the Kabbalah, the High Holiday season is the annual experience of the cosmic matrimony between G-d and humanity. The five key spiritual moments of the season parallel the basic phases of a conventional courtship and union. The holidays invite us to journey through this process again and rejuvenate the relationship.

The Bride Commits

On the morning of Rosh Hashanah, a piercing sound rises from the Earth: the cry of the shofar. It is a simple cry, expressing man's yearning to connect with the Divine. We have decided. Our answer is yes.

The Wedding

The wedding day arrives: Yom Kippur. A day described in the Kabbalah as "the time of oneness" in which cosmic bride and groom forge a bond for eternity. In the Jewish tradition, bride and groom fast on their wedding day. On the day we unite with G-d, we abstain from food or drink as well. The Talmud teaches that upon marriage, all the sins of the groom and bride are forgiven.

The Hebrew month of Elul precedes the High Holidays. This month is described in Chassidic teachings as a time when "the King goes out to the field to meet with His people, greeting them with kindness and tenderness, displaying a joyous face to all." We, in turn, "open our hearts to G-d." This time provides us with an opportunity to get to know G-d.

That's why this day is called Yom Kippur, "the day of atonement."

The Groom Proposes

The marriage ceremony begins with the stirring melody of Kol Nidre, in which we remove the power from vows and addictions that tie us down. During these profound moments, we attempt to free ourselves from compulsive behavior and negative habits and let go of resentment, animosity, anger, fear and envy.

All of existence was brought into being for the sake of this proposed marriage. If we refuse Him, then it was all in vain. The entire cosmos awaits our decision.

The Celebration

When the bride and groom exit their private room, the party begins. From Yom Kippur we leap into the seven-day festival of Sukkot, described in the Torah as "the time of our Joy." These days are filled with feasting and ecstatic happiness, celebrating the union between G-d and His people.


The wedding feast is over. The guests and relatives have returned home. In a consummation of the relationship, bride and groom experience intimacy for the first time, their lives melded together as a husband and wife. Hence, following the seven days of Sukkot, we reach the zenith of the High Holiday season: Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, described in the Kabbalah as the "time of intimacy with the Divine." During these two charged days the joy reaches its peak, as G-d and His people merge into a seamless whole. A Divine seed is planted in each of our hearts.

The Courtship

The world goes haywire, says Master Kabbalist Rabbi Issac Luriah. "During the night of Rosh Hashanah," he writes, "the consciousness animating the universe becomes frail and weak." The great Jewish mystics would, in fact, feel physically weak during the night of Rosh Hashanah.

called because as the sun of Yom Kippur sets, the gates of heaven close--with us inside. During Ne'ilah, every soul is alone with G-d.

The traditional Jewish marriage ceremony culminates with the bride and groom entering a secluded room (cheder yichud in Hebrew) to spend time alone with each other. Yom Kippur culminates with the Ne'ilah, or closure prayer, so

That's why we recite special prayers for rain on the festival of Shemini Atzeret. What is rain? In the midst of intimacy between heaven and earth, procreative drops from heaven are absorbed, fertilized and nurtured by mother-earth, which in time will give birth to its botanical children.

The Ordinary Month

The honeymoon comes to an end and the excitement begins to fade. Now the marriage becomes about caring for each other and demonstrating trust and loyalty as we work through the daily grind of life. Out of the twelve months in the Jewish calendar, the only one lacking a single festive day immediately follows the High Holiday season. The Hebrew month of Cheshvan is the time to build a genuine relationship with our marriage Partner in our everyday lives. This is the time to discover the joy born out of a continous relationship with G-d.

To reach the author or to subscribe to Rabbi Jacobson's weekly essays by e-mail, please e-mail


“IT ALWAYS SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE, UNTIL IT’S DONE.” I came across this fabulous quote yesterday from Nelson Mandela. And it got me thinking about what we mean when we say something is impossible.

1. Write it down. Writing down your dreams and

Impossible is often code for: • because I might fail. • • accomplish the task. • • this. • • • succeeded!

feelings. And then look back and see the progress

what you can and cannot do. Are they truly else (probably)?

substance to your dreams and helps facilitate the goal-setting process. Spend time each day writing

2. Shift your thinking.

3. Surround yourself with supportive people. If

surrounding yourself with people who tell you that doable. Set realistic time lines. We often think something is impossible when we really mean that

make slow and steady progress along the way.

How to do the impossible. thinking "anything is possible":

5. Failure is part of the process. failure is the best thing that can happen to you.

to get more in touch with your dreams and goals. And allows you to see where your goals need a little tweaking.

It is all possible. remind yourself of all the impossible things you

• • embraced it (happily) • • • • • • • •

Emily Levenson is a Certified Holistic Health Coach in Pittsburgh, PA. You can find her online at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter via @emilylevenson.


For many, it might be second nature to put in an

early order for a kosher Lulav and Etrog kit. For others, it’s a bit out of the ordinary to see friends and family members standing in a small hut (the ‘Sukkah’) shaking a bunch of branches and a strange looking lemon for seven days. Nevertheless, no matter where you’re from or how you observe, the four kinds coming together for a little shake is a symbol of one very important thing: unity. How you ask? Well, let’s back up to our little story. If you are the person ordering the Lulav and Etrog, how much different are you from your Jewish neighbor who might have never completed this mitzvah or so much as stepped into a Sukkah on Sukkot? Is your neighbor any less Jewish? Are you different or are you very much the same? This is what we learn from Lulav. What are the four kinds? A palm branch (lulav), two willows (aravot), a minimum of three myrtles (hadassim) and one citron (etrog). But really, what are the four kinds and why are they so important to our story? In truth, the four kinds symbolize the four different types of Jews, each with a different degree of Torah knowledge and personal observance. On the holiday of Sukkot, we take these four kinds – for our ancestors, our family, our neighbors, and ourselves – and shake them together in all directions in a show of solidarity. Bringing them together represents our unity as a nation despite our external differences. If you’re reading this, then it means you’ve made it at least half way down the page and you’re still interested – that’s good. Because now I’m going to ask you what

does the Lulav and Etrog mean to you? Maybe it is just a few branches and an odd little fruit that sit in the corner of your Sukkah. Perhaps you’ve only seen pictures of a Lulav and Etrog. Maybe you’ve never gone one single Sukkot without a Lulav and Etrog in your lifetime. Whatever the case, Lulav and Etrog can mean so many different things to many of us, but one thing holds true, it means one thing to all of us: we are all the same in that we are all one with G-d. On Sukkot, at a baseball game, at work, in the swimming pool. That one thing will never change and we have good old Lulav and Etrog to thank for reminding us of that one complex, and yet so simple fact. So next Sukkot, step back from your Sukkah table and take a look around. Young and old, quiet and chatty, simple and learned; whoever your guests are, may you enjoy your Sukkot – your Lulav and Etrog – and feel comfortable in knowing that in that moment, and every day, you all exist as one. We are all part of one big family doing the best we can with our time here on earth. As you shake and do the mitzvah of Lulav this year, take it in and feel the magic around you. Who knows, you might even want to invite your neighbor over? Angela Goldstein is a fundraising professional with over 10 years of experience and currently works for a national health organization based in NYC. She is a mother of two with an overall love for writing.

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2013 High Holiday Magazine  
2013 High Holiday Magazine