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Fasting on Yom Kippur is not as obvious as one might think. Nowhere does the Torah explicitly command it. Instead, the verses teach us to “afflict ourselves” without defining the nature of this “affliction.”
We do know that Yom Kippur is about atonement and forgiveness. So how does “afflicting” ourselves through fasting relate to teshuva ? Many assume that fasting is a form of...
The Tu B'Shevat seder is a celebration of our relationship with nature and with fruit trees in particular, and a time for reflection. Today, as we celebrate together, let us envision ourselves as partners in shaping, cultivating, and healing the natural world. The Tu B'Shevat Seder is split into four sections, each reflecting the seasons and symbolizing different aspects of the trees and our own lives. Each section is...
The World of Asiyah - Fruits and nuts with a hard outside and an edible inside
[Pour a glass of white wine, say the blessing, and drink half or more.]
Although seemingly inedible from the outside, each of the foods eaten at the level of Asiyah, when peeled or shelled, hold gifts that transcend their outward appearance. Like winter, where everything lays dormant and hidden, these...
The quintessential Rosh Hashanah treat is apples and honey. Take a sweet, crisp, apple and dip it in some honey. Before eating we say a mini-blessing, hoping that the year to come will be tova umetukah, good and sweet!
Pick up a slice of apple, dip it in honey, and say:
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha'olam borei pri ha-eitz.
We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the...
Over the course of our Yom Kippur prayers, we recite the Al Chet over and over again.
V’al kulam, Elo’ah s’lichot, s’lach lanu, m’chal lanu, kaper-lanu.
“For the ways in which we have fallen short, oh God, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement,” we say. We take collective responsibility for our communal shortcomings, even for the ways in which we may not have failed...
The World of Yetzirah (Formation) - Fruits with pits at their center
[Add a few drops of red wine and fill the rest with white. Drink half or more.]
We now drink our second cup of wine. Just as each new stream begins with a trickle, each flower with a single bud, just a few drops of color transform the hue of our wine. Although we discard the pits of these fruits, they are the...
The Rosh Hashanah Seder finds its earliest written source in a peculiar menu whose symbolic significance is not revealed...and your dinner menu can include many of these items that can draw on our earliest history and connect us to our hopes and dreams for our present and our future.
"For a good omen on Rosh HaShanah one should make it a habit to eat squash [like pumpkin], legumes [like string beans], kartei...
Reprinted fromThe Jewish Religion: A Companion, published by Oxford University Press.
Kiddush is the sanctification of the Sabbath.
On Friday night, when the Sabbath begins, the Kiddush ceremony is carried out before sitting down to the Sabbath meal. A cup of wine is filled and held in the hand by the person presiding, usually but not necessarily the father of the house, and the benediction over...
The World of Beriah (Creation) - Fruits that are entirely edible
[Refill the glass so that there is now half red and half white wine. Drink half or more.]
We drink our third cup of wine. We now have half a cup of red wine and half a cup of white - even though the trees will be full and green and their flowers will blossom; so much more is to come.
These fruits can remind...
Candlelight is very different than the harsh lights of our homes and offices. We begin Shabbat bathed in their sweet, gentle glow.
Candles are lit a minimum of 18 minutes before sundown on Friday evening.
Light at least two candles (some add an additional candle for each child.)
Draw in the light by waving your hands toward your eyes three times.
Recite the blessing, while covering your eyes...