SCOOP ON WHAT’S CRACKING IN THE SYNAGOGUE
5 THINGS TO DAYDREAM ABOUT during the High Holidays
1 G-d doesn't carry an Android or an iPhone, but He’s always on call. Even though he has billions of callers, He never puts you on hold. He doesn't have a Facebook profile, but if you turn to Him, He’ll be your loyal friend. He doesn't have a Twitter account, yet millions follow Him. Talk to Him when you want, He’s got Instant Message. You don’t need Bing to search for Him, and you don’t use Google translate when talking to Him. He connects to those who don’t even know what the Internet is.
2 Why is a car's
large and the
REARVIEW MIRROR so small?
Because our PAST is not as important as our FUTURE. So, look ahead and move on.
3 G-d doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need to test us. He knows us better than we know ourselves - He created us! G-d gives us challenges so we can discover on our own what weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re truly capable of.
4 G-dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s forgiveness is absolute. He knows your weaknesses, understands why you sinned, and is simply waiting for your sincere apology.
5 P.U.S.H. Pray Until Something Happens
ROSH HASHANAH FAQ 14
Are prayers supposed to be personal? If so, why do we use a generic prayer book AKA a Machzor? Although the prayer books were compiled to help us come close to G-d, remember that the content of our prayers is less significant than the experience itself—an opportunity to connect with G‑d. Why do we pray with a minyan? As Jews, we generally commune with G‑d communally. Oneness below is the best way to get the attention of the Oneness Above. Are there any sins too grave to be forgiven for? You can always return to G-d, because there's a part of you that never strayed. Coming to the Torah is like coming home—it is quite simply where you belong.
Ben: Today’s just not my day. I came late to school, didn’t sleep well last night, and I’m really not in the mood of praying today. Rabbi: Well if that’s the way you’re feeling, then how about explain what you just told me to G-d? An hour later... Ben: That was the most meaningful and honest prayer time I ever had. Thanks for the advice!
SHEMA The Shema is our essence. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s our Jewish heartbeat that never stops ticking, no matter how faint. You can never take the Shema out of a Jew.
*Page numbers correspond to the Machzor for Rosh Hashanah - English Annotated Edition published by Kehot.
AMIDAH The Amidah is the central part of the service, and is said every day of the year. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s divided into three sections:
praise, petition, and thanksgiving.
PR A I S E : The first three blessings recognize the glory of G-d.
THANKSGIVING: PET IT I O N :
This is the time when we mention all of our personal needs and requests.
Having concluded our requests, we close the Amidah with gratitude to G-d for everything He has and will give us.
The Amidah is recited silently, a practice instituted by a biblical woman named Chana, who silently beseeched G-d for a child. Chanaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s prayers were answered on Rosh Hashanah and we read her story in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Haftorah portion, with hopes that our prayers will be answered just like hers were. 21
Lâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;KAIL ORECH DIN Were you ever accused of something you didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do? Did you ever do something wrong and not get caught? Unlike our imperfect judicial systems here on earth, G-d is the ultimate witness who knows our deepest thoughts and motives. We have no reason to fear that we will be misjudged. 22
AVINU MALKEINU There was once a teacher who taught his own son in his class. The teacher had high expectations for his class and even higher standards for his son.
One day, after returning home late from a teachers’ meeting, the teacher found his son crying in his bedroom... This is what we try to accomplish by saying Avinu Malkeinu. We turn to G-d and say, “You are our King and make moral demands, but sometimes we fall short. We ask you as our Father to show compassion and love toward us which will allow us to fix our failings and have energy to grow and move forward.” 24
My teacher gives us too much work. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s way too challenging!
Well, why donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t you tell your Dad to have a word with your teacher? Maybe he can explain the situation to him, and they can figure out what to do to help you.
SHOFAR The sounding of the shofar is a cry, and not limited to any words or specific prayers. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re calling out to our Father in heaven from a place much deeper than words. The sound of the shofar shakes us out of our spiritual slumber, helps us reconnect to our source, and recommit to our divine mission in this world.
U’NESSANE TOKEF An innocent Jew was given a life sentence in prison by a feudal baron. The baron told him, “I will grant you one day of freedom a year during which you can return to your family. I don’t care which day you choose. But remember, you have only one day.”
What day of the year would you choose? This prisoner, not being able to make up his mind, wrote a letter to his Rabbi, the Radbaz, asking for his advice. The Radbaz answered, “Whatever it is, grab the opportunity now! Every day is precious. Choose today!” This prayer teaches us not to wait; every moment should be valued. In one instant we can change the future! 28
V’CHOL MA’AMINIM A Yeshiva student once complained to the Rebbe about how horribly he felt at not being able to master the Talmud as fast and as thoroughly as his peers. The Rebbe showed him 2 cups of water. The smaller one was filled to the top and the other one was filled halfway. The Rebbe explained that G-d gives each and every one of us a cup. He doesn’t measure how much water we have acquired in our cups, rather, He judges us by how much we filled it—if we maximized our personal potential! This prayer describes how G-d is the ultimate Judge since He apportions life to all beings and knows all our capabilities.
Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t compare your cup or your abilities with othersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Just focus on being the best YOU that you can be! 31
BIRCHAT KOHANIM If you were able to buy the iPhone 7 online a year before its induction to the market, what method of shipping would you choose? Overnight, ground, or a sketchy but free shipping company that takes 3 weeks to send out the package?
Today, we just ordered a cartful of blessings. So as we conclude the prayers for the day and get ready for checkout, it is customary for the Kohanim to bless us to expedite the process. This is because the soul of the Kohen is compared to a powerful river whose waters cannot be stemmed. Any obstacles placed in the riverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s path are swept away by the surging waters. 32
YOM KIPPUR FAQ 34
Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the purpose of fasting on Yom Kippur? How can we become more spiritual with a growling stomach? Fasting makes us feel vulnerable and helps us realize that the body is merely a needy and temporary home for the soul, our true identity. On Yom Kippur we are reminded that care for our body is not an end to itself but so that it can serve as a vehicle of goodness, to achieve the mission that our souls were sent to this world to fulfill.
What is so special about Yom Kippur? Yom Kippur is translated as “The Day of Atonement” which can be broken up into the words “at one ment”. Yom Kippur is a day in which we are so one with G-d, that past sins become insignificant. All G-d wants is to be one with us, and essentially all we want is to be one with G-d. Therefore, the actual day of Yom Kippur atones for many basic sins.
Can one be too far from returning to G-d? What happens when we sin? Our connection to G-d is compared to a rope made of 613 strands, corresponding to the 613 mitzvot. At times we neglect some strands and weaken our rope. Sometimes we tug our rope so far away from G-d that it actually rips! But when we fix the connection and tie the 2 ropes back together, not only does the rope become stronger, but the two ends of the rope are now closer together than ever before!
KOL NIDREI If you were on a committee to set up a universal prayer for the holiest day of the year, what would you choose to implement? The “opening ceremony” of the holiest day of the year is ushered in with the universal prayer of Kol Nidrei which annuls all the promises we’ve made throughout the year. According to Kabbalah, by releasing our vows we are asking G‑d to reciprocate and release His vows of judgement and grant us a year of happiness and redemption.
*Page numbers correspond to the Machzor for Yom Kippur - English Annotated Edition published by Kehot.
KI HINEI KACHOMER Have you ever felt super confident about an idea? You plan out all the details, everything seems to fall into place, and then something happens causing it all to fall through? Yet when things donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t happen according to our plans, we are forced to realize that we are not in control. Ultimately, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a G-d above Who is in charge of every detail of our lives. This special prayer emphasizes how we are but a lump of clay in the hands of the sculptor, an anchor in the hands of a sailor, molten silver in the possession of a silversmith. By showing G-d we understand how small we truly are, we create space for Him to enter our lives and shape a great future for us. 40
SHEMA KOLEINU Forgiveness makes no sense. If someone wronged you, on what merit should they be forgiven? But yet the concept of forgiveness is not far-fetched. Every so often, we forgive and are forgiven. Forgiveness happens when we realize that our connection toward the person who hurt us is much stronger and deeper than the act that separated us. G-d says, yes you hurt our relationship, but weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re so much deeper than that, our relationship is so much more profound.
SHEMA “Shema” means to listen. Whose attention are we trying to get? Who needs to listen up? At first it may seem that we are calling upon G-d; but this is illogical as His attention is always upon us.
After all, we know teachers only try to get the attention of the daydreamers, texters and those occupied with other activities. In the crazy and hectic world we live in, we are continuously bombarded with hundreds of differing thoughts, perceptions and images. The Shema is a moment of intense concentration when we call out to our soul “Listen, it’s not about us or the world around us; G-d is one!” 44
y, w He
irl? ,g up ? t’s o? ha oo l lo He
IMRU LELOKIM Does realizing G‑d’s greatness foster your love for Him or push you further away? G‑d is all-powerful, with all of existence at His disposal. He looked at creation in its entirety, put it all aside, and chose you. And He says, “I want to be close to you and build a relationship together.”
This powerful man chose you, you, out of 300 million or so American citizens, to be his buddy. You canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t help but love the president!
The President was wondering if he could take you out to lunch today, and perhaps follow that with a spin in his private plane.
L’KAIL ORECH DIN What is the real meaning behind life’s struggles? Our soul can never be tainted or stained. Only our exterior, our garments, can get soiled. Just like we have different types of clothing that allow us to express ourselves, the soul expresses itself through thoughts, speech and action. Sometimes we stain our soul’s garments - we think, talk and act in a way that is below the high caliber of our soul. If we’re lucky, Hashem will then ‘throw us in the washing machine’ by sending us a difficult challenge that, when we overcome it, we become purified. 48
A shirt wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get clean just sitting there. You have to put it in a washing machine that uses soap, strong heat and rubs the garment to its core so it comes out sparkling.
SHEMA KOLEINU “Restore the days of our youth.” As G-d’s only child, our essential bond with Him can never be broken, no matter what we do or how far we roam. On Yom Kippur, this bond is revealed, removing all obstacles that stood in the way of G-d’s love toward us.
After the terrible accident, the years of aggravation and tears of disappointment they had shed due to Zackâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s behavior simply disappeared. Despite everything, he is their child and now they sit at his bedside, clutching his hands. 51
AL CHAIT “Talk is cheap, action is priceless.” The bottom line is that we actually have to change!
MODIM Can we appreciate G-dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s presence when life is good, or must we wait for G-d to send us a wakeup call?
Uâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;NESSANE TOKEF Man: Rabbi, I am a sinner. I would like to return, to do teshuvah! Rabbi: So why donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t you do teshuvah? Man: But Rabbi, I do not know how! Rabbi: How did you know to sin? Man: I acted, and then I realized that I had sinned. Rabbi: Well, the same applies to teshuvah. Repent and the rest will follow of its own accord! 56
V’CHOL MAMINIM This prayer is titled “And all who believe.” What if we don’t believe? The very fact that we are here is proof that G‑d believes in us. He knows that we are not perfect, is well aware of our failings and knows the mistakes we have made. And yet, in the morning after our sleep, He returns our soul to us and gives us another chance, because He trusts us. Start your day with a prayer, if not out of your faith in G‑d, then at least out of G‑d’s faith in you.
AVODAH Once a year, the holiest time, space, and soul converge. On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, the holiest place on earth was entered by the person with the holiest soul, where he would pray on behalf of all his Jewish brethren and secure their atonement. Every Jewish person is a potential temple for Gâ&#x20AC;&#x2018;d, and every individual is the High Priest in his or her personal temple. When we allow G-d into our lives, and fill our days with activities that He appreciates, we are building a temple for Him. 60
BIRCHAT KOHANIM The Kohanim bless their brethren with a power inherited from their ancestor Aaron. The name Aaron ( )אהרןshares the same letters as the word nir’eh ()נראה, “seen.” This is an allusion to the special quality of Birchat Kohanim—its positive results are always visible and palpable.
- MINCHA -
THE STORY OF JONAH pg.
We, like Jonah, delude ourselves into thinking that our journey to this earth has somehow taken us out of range of our relationship with G‑d. But no; the soul does not escape G‑d by coming down to this earth. To the contrary, it is an agent of G‑d, charged with perfecting an imperfect world. Like Jonah, our souls sometimes fall asleep; we become numb. Sooner or later, the smooth sailing—the false lure of material satisfaction—is interrupted. G-d produces a storm to shake our soul from its complacency. The ship’s captain wakes up Jonah and begs him to call out to G-d. This represents our inner voice that calls out to us, Why are you here? Jonah answers: “I am a Hebrew, and I revere the G‑d of Israel!” On Yom Kippur we proclaim: “G‑d is here on earth too, and I am His messenger. My life has a purpose!”
NEILAH The last prayer of Yom Kippur, just as the sun is setting, is called “Neilah,” meaning “the locking” (of the supernal heavenly gates). At this point, there are no formalities or extra frills. It’s just us and G-d. During Neilah, every person is “locked in,” alone with G-d. Every person has his or her time to be together with Him.
It’s just you and Him. Tap into it and you’ll feel it. 66
13 ATTRIBUTES OF MERCY Imagine if your parents were to give you a secret password that would grant you automatic forgiveness? Shortly after the revelation at Sinai, the Jews in the desert betrayed G-d with the sin of the Golden Calf. When Moses implored G-d for forgiveness, G-d taught him these 13 attributes. Moses used this special prayer password and G-d eventually forgave the Jewish nation on Yom Kippur. At the culmination of this auspicious day of forgiveness, we mention this secret password 8 times. 68
379 SHEMA, BARUCH SHAIM AND HASHEM HU The highest point of Yom Kippur is when we pronounce, in unison, three verses proclaiming G-d as our G-d. It is written that when we recite these verses, every Jew should have the intention of giving up his or her soul for the sanctification of G-d’s name, and this intention will be considered as if we have indeed withstood the test to sanctify the Divine Name. The shofar is then sounded, one long sound, and the Neilah service ends with one final prayer:
“Next year may we be in Jerusalem!” 70
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