Teachings: Rosh Hashannah

Teshuvah: Must We Always Forgive?

Jews take collective responsibility for the moral targets that get missed in life. At least ten days before Rosh HaShannah prayers called Selihot are added where, having empathy for ourselves as only human, we admit personal and collective ownership of the full range of problematic human behaviors:

We are guilty (spiritually desolate and distant from our higher selves)

We have betrayed (our loved ones, the community, the planet)

Where's the Joy?

Dear Reb Shohama, It’s been such a difficult month, remembering 9/11, worrying about impending war, and sitting through Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur, focusing on everyone’s sins. I want a religion that teaches me how to be happy. Can I find that in Judaism? Sincerely, Andy


Dear Andy, It has been a difficult month with all that has been happening in the world. And you are right, Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur are the most serious of our holidays.

Teshuvah: Can We Invite God in Again? Hashpa’ah After the Shoah (Holocaust)

The First Steps in Teshuva: A Process of Deep Return/Rebalancing/Centering
by Carola de Vries Robles --from "Can We Invite God in Again?  Hashpa’ah After the Holocaust",  Seeking & Soaring: Jewish Approaches to Spiritual Direction (2009: Reclaiming Judaism Press)

I developed a centering exercise which has basic steps that can be reformulated or modulated for different circumstances. Certain “steps” need more practice, yet all the steps together keep the Shekhinah alive. Here are the steps:

What Is Mussar?

Rabbi Mendel of Satanov created a new approach to the practice called Heshbon HaNefesh, “Accounting of the Soul.” He encouraged keeping a journal on how you are doing in cultivating the following 18 attributes within yourself, and I would add, your students, children and grandchildren. After the list, are several ways to work with these concepts in your life. These are the core concepts of Mussar, one of many inspiring approaches to Jewish living.

1. Equanimity - מְנוּחַת הַנֶפֶשׁ.  Attaining skillful ability to live in balance.

2. Tolerance - סַבְלָנוּת. Growing pains lead to knowing gains, listen with an open mind.

3. Orderliness - סֵדֶר. Allocating time for living fully with integrity, including showing up on time.

4. Decisiveness - חָרִיצוּת. Acting promptly when your reasoning is sure and kindness is intelligently incorporated in necessary action.

Tashlich, Including a New Games and Environmental Lens

Teaching Tashlich through a New Games and Environmental Lens
by Rabbi Dr. Goldie Milgram; Photo Credit: "Magenetic Waves" (c) 2016 Barry Bub

What Is Tashlikh? How Do I Do Tashlich?

Tashlikh is the practice of standing before a body of water and tossing some fish food to represent the remaining sticky points within your persona that get in the way of your having/creating a good year. This is a gestalt type of experience, where you let go of clinging behaviors, memories and experiences. Good ritual facilitates desired change. The symbolism is like that of the scapegoat, you put into the crumbs what about yourself most needs to change, drop it into the water for the fish to transform. Water is the symbol for overflowing loving-kindness in Judaism, and is a powerful ritual tool for assisting in desired transformations.

Book Review, Return: Daily Inspiration for the Days of Awe

This review by Rabbi Goldie Milgram was first published in the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.

Rosh Hashanah 2013: Good Luck, Bad Luck

also posted at www.yourshulbythesea.org under Learning: Sermons

Our history is very complex- the good and the bad are intertwined, and as we read in our second day Rosh Hashanah Haftorah by the prophet Jeremiah, (Ch 31) God loves us even in the dark times and promises that things will get better.

This past Spring I heard a folk song written and sung by Joe Crookston that captured my attention. It felt like I had heard the story before.