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Jewish Calendar

The Days of Awe

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur - the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement - are the culmination of a month long period of self-evaluation and renewal of our relationship with G-d.

Learning through fear
by Jonathan Rosenblum

On Rosh Hashana, we beseeched God, "Instill Your fear upon all Your works, and Your dread upon all that You have created. . ."

But has He not already done that, less than a week before Rosh Hashana, just as He did last year on the eve of Rosh Hashana when our world collapsed around us?

Surely after the fire from the heavens directed at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we are not in need of any more fear.

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The festival of booths-for seven days we sleep in a homemade booth under the stars to remind ourselves that G-d is the ultimate protector.

Succot--the time of our rejoicing
by Jonathan Rosenblum

There is a mitzva of rejoicing on each of the three pilgrimage festivals of the Jewish calendar. We are encouraged to have festive meals, with meat and wine, and husbands are enjoined to buy their wives new clothing or jewelry for the holiday.

Yet of the three festivals only Succot is specifically known as zman simhateinu - the time of our rejoicing.

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The festival of lights is a celebration of the victory of the Macabees and the rededication of the Jewish Temple. The holiday also commemorates the miracle of oil that burned for eight days.

Chanukah parallels
by Jonathan Rosenblum

Most Jews today pursue an assimilationist agenda, including a hostility to serious Jewish education, that posits that Jews are best served by a society in which they are as unidentifiable as possible. It is an agenda leading directly to the Jewish graveyard, just as it would have if their historical predecessors had succeeded.

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Tu B'Shvat

This is the holiday when Jews honor the land of Israel by eating of the seven types of fruits for which the land of Israel is praised and blessed (wheat, barley, grapes, figs pomegranates, olives and dates - Deuteronomy 8:8-9) It is commonly referred to as the "new year" for trees since many of the halachic calculations of orlah, shmitta and tithes are begun on this day.

Partners in Creation
by Jonathan Rosenblum

Yesterday was Tu Bishvat, which marks the "New Year" for tithing fruit trees, and which is traditionally celebrated by eating the fruits of the Land of Israel.

Tu Bishvat provides an opportunity to examine our Sages' understanding of the general purpose of life.

Fruits are man's soul food. In the original plan of Creation, fruit was to be the exclusive food for mankind. Every time a person eats of the fruit tree, says the Vilna Gaon, he absorbs a power that lies in the potential within the fruit and is capable of being realized by man.

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Purim is the holiday of hidden miracles when we celebrate the victory of Queen Esther who through a dramatic plot saves the Jews from the evil Haman. On this holiday we dress up in costumes, drink wine and eat a festive meal, read the Megillah, and give gifts to our friends and the poor.

Purim Lessons
by Jonathan Rosenblum

Perhaps none of the canonical texts so speak to the situation of the modern Jew as Megillat Esther. G-d is not mentioned once in the text. No miracles take place. G-d's presence has to be discerned in the remarkable concatenation of events rather than in the suspension of the laws of nature.

Every year we discover uncanny parallels between the ancient text and our present situation of G-d's hiddenness.

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Passover is the celebration of the Jewish people's redemption from Egypt. At festive "seder" meals, Jews retell the story of the Exodus and eat matza for seven days to relive the experience of slavery and the Exodus.

A time to ask
by Jonathan Rosenblum

Tomorrow night's Seder is the highlight of the year as far as the transmission of enduring Jewish values from one generation to another: "And you shall say to your son on that day . . ."

Our goal is to bring each participant in the Seder to a recognition of the magnitude of what G-d did for us when He redeemed us from Egypt. Thus the more we tell of the going out from Egypt the more praiseworthy, for there is no limit to gratitude.

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The commemoration of the day the Torah was given to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai.

Shavuot and the Limits of Self
by Jonathan Rosenblum

At first glance, the low-key nature of the holiday is hard to comprehend, for the day marks the defining moment in world history: the revelation at Sinai. But at another level, the nature of Shavuot conveys a subtle message about the manner in which Torah is received...

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The Three Weeks and Tisha B'Av

Tisha B'Av is a major fast day when Jews mourn the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 686 B.C.E.

Why we love to hate
by Jonathan Rosenblum

Nearly 2,000 years ago this Tisha B'Av, the Temple was destroyed and the Jewish people sent into Exile as a consequence of sinat chinam - a hatred of others not for anything particular they have done to us, but because their very existence impinges on our own.

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