Rosh Hashanah I

Finding Faith

Finding Faith

This past July, during a visit with my mother in Maryland, we happened upon the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, on the Eastern Shore.  Established just a few years ago, the Park has a wonderful visitors’ center, with a great exhibit about Tubman’s life and the activity of the Underground Railroad in Maryland and Virginia.

Active Hope

Rosh Hashanah is traditionally understood as the day that God sits in judgment over all of creation.  The great medieval scholar Maimonides, in his code of Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah, writes that this “judgment” takes the form of a scale, weighing human transgressions against good deeds.  For each person, if our positive deeds outweigh our negative ones, then we come out on the side of merit.  Conversely, if the bad outweighs the good, then we are considered among the wicked.  And, Maimonides goes on, the same applies to an entire country, and the collect

Asking for Fear

Last year, I cut out of the paper a graphic op-ed called “100 Years of Fears,” by Phillip Niemeyer.  In it, he puts a little graphic and a heading for the major cultural fear of each year.  Here are a few of what he includes:

The Unetaneh Tokef: Jewish Koan

The Unetaneh Tokef: Jewish Koan

A little earlier this morning, as we recited some of the liturgy unique to the High Holydays, we chanted a prayer-poem—a piyyut—called the Unetaneh Tokef. It’s a complex and challenging piece of liturgy, containing themes that echo throughout these Days of Awe.

God & Metaphor

God & Metaphor

Rabbi Toba Spitzer

Rosh Hashanah 5773

 

 

Thirty-One Flavors

Rabbi Toba Spitzer

There are moments, bits of conversation, that can stay with us for a long time, interactions that still echo years later. A few sentences that a friend and I said to each other nearly 20 years ago has remained with me ever since. As I prepared this talk I realized that in some ways my life of the past 10 years has been a partial answer to a conversation that was never finished.

Unetaneh Tokef: The Spiritual Challenge of This Moment

Rabbi Toba Spitzer

It hasn’t been the easiest thing, to come up with words that match the enormity of what we have experienced this week. Sometimes it has felt that silence, or tears, or shouts of pain, are the only appropriate response. And I imagine many of us feel overwhelmed with words and images—from the TV, the radio, the newspaper.

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