Ask The Rabbi

For the week ending 7 September 2002 / 1 Tishri 5763

Rosh Hashana

The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Awe-Full Marriage

Amy wrote:

Dear Rabbi,
Why are marriages not encouraged during the Days of Awe between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur?

Dear Amy,

While there is no prohibition against marrying between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, it is customary to refrain from doing so. Because these are days of judgment, we want to direct our primary energies towards repentance: Reflecting on our performance during the past year, and taking steps to improve.

Once, before Yom Kippur, the famed Rabbi Yitzchak Blazer saw one of his students buying an etrog, one of the four species needed for the Succot festival occurring shortly after Yom Kippur.

"Repentance you have achieved already?"

Rabbi Blazer asked him. His point was that, unless you have attained perfection of character, you should direct your primary focus towards repentance during these days, and leave other matters for after Yom Kippur.

Rosh Hashana In A Schnapps Glass

David from Pittsburgh, PA wrote:

Dear Rabbi,
Could you email me a brief description of Rosh Hashana? I would like to use it for my web page.

Dear David,

The first day of Tishrei is called "a day of shofar blasting" (Numbers 29:1). Our oral tradition tells us that this day marks the anniversary of the creation of the world. Hence it is the day when, every year, G-d "takes stock" of Creation, judging our actions. Thus, we call it Rosh Hashana, the "Head" of the Year; for just as the head directs the body, so too, G-d's judgment on Rosh Hashana directs the events of the coming year.

Rosh Hashana is a two-day festival which we honor and enjoy with special (new) clothing and festive meals. There is a prohibition against certain types of work. We light holiday candles and recite kiddush over wine. We eat sweet apples dipped in honey, in prayer that we merit a good, sweet year. The highlight of the daily prayer service is the sounding of the shofar, the ram's horn.

For more, see Ohr Somayach Interactive, our web site, particularly the following:http://www.ohr.edu/special/roshhash. There's lot's there. Feel free to link your site to as many articles and features as you like.

Ring Around the Shofar

Jeffery Gold from Stamford, CT wrote:

Dear Rabbi,
There is a practice I have seen in many synagogues during the High Holidays for children to come up to the bimah for the blowing of the shofar. Where does this come from?

Dear Jeffrey Gold,

It is an expansion of the custom to bring the children to the synagogue in order to educate them in the practicing of mitzvos. They come closer so they can more easily see and hear the shofar. However, if this practice causes a disturbance it should be abolished.

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