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HIGH HOLY DAYS RESOURCES


After selecting a file from the list of documents below, the file will open in Adobe Acrobat format (but only if the Acrobat Reader is installed on your computer's hard drive). The Acrobat Reader is available free from the Adobe web site. To save the file on your hard drive in the Acrobat pdf format, select the Save (floppy disk) icon from the Acrobat tool bar or Save As from the File menu. Several of the files listed on this page are also available as audio (MP3) divrei Torah by clicking here.

Abraham's Faithful Binding of Isaac—Suggests that the Akedah offers insights into thinking about our unanswered High Holy Days questions, that Abraham was struggling with the questions of his yetzer ha-ra, which he "beat to pieces," so that he didn't use his unanswered questions to abandon his faith in God. (3 pp.) [HIGH HOLY DAYS, ROSH HASHANAH 2]

Atonement and Moral Spiritual Rebirth—Acknowledges the deaths of Nadav and Avihu as the consequence of introducing personal desires into the religious life of the nation, in contrast to subordinating their will to the Torah, leading to moral and, ultimately, physical death; the modern-day counterpart of personalizing communal worship that takes the form of wholesale rejection of the Torah as authoritative, preferring instead momentary sensual satisfactions; the symptoms and consequences of alienation from the Torah vision and path of our high moral spiritual calling; and the process and power of atonement to achieve both moral and spiritual rebirth by inculcating in ourselves the habit of continuous confession. (2 pp) [HIGH HOLY DAYS]

Ending Our Estrangement from God—Recognizes that misconceptions about Jewish ideas of sin are widespread among Jews, often reflecting non-Jewish concepts; the Jewish view of sin; desensitization to sin in modern life; and the value of engaging others in our process of reflection to avoid sin. (3 pp. ) [HIGH HOLY DAYS]

Finding the Holy in High Holy Days—Notes that most Jews regret their wrongdoing and want to do better, that the High Holy Days are designed to help us nurture that which is alive and life-giving within us, and that to have an experience of awe during High Holy Days requires a significant commitment; and offers suggestions on preparing for the High Holy Days, including the emotional and spiritual "posture" most conducive to finding holiness and the hope and joy that accompany it. (2 pp.) [HIGH HOLY DAYS]

God Remembered Channah [Readers' Theatre]—Readers' theatre script for adult presentation of the Haftarah reading (1 Samuel 1:1-2:10) for the first day of Rosh Hashanah. (5 pp.) [ROSH HASHANAH]

God Remembered Channah Introductory Devar Torah—Devar Torah to introduce the God Remembered Channah readers' theatre. (4 pp.) [ROSH HASHANAH]

Isaiah on Spiritual Development—Looks at Isaiah's prophecy (57:14-58:14) as a teaching on how to achieve spirituality; that one day of atonement doesn't suffice; the need to free ourselves from the prison of preoccupation with sensual satisfactions; the rewards if we choose the derech Adonai; and particular ways in which we can invigorate our congregational community. (2 pp.) [YOM KIPPUR]

Jewish Survival and Success—Recognizes the Barchu as a ritual of solidarity, a supplement to solitary efforts to foster kindness and uphold justice; the news of the last year that suggests the high costs of promoting kindness and justice; how the seeming irrelevance of Judaism and congregational life to those ends can change in an instant, becoming indispensable for our survival and success as Jews; and the purpose of the High Holy Days, not to exclusively find personal happiness through teshuvah, but to ensure our survival and success as a community and a people. (2 pp.) [YOM KIPPUR]

Let Them Know—Considers the challenge of forgiving someone who has harmed or wronged us; the connection between holiness and how we treat our neighbor; the necessity to reprove and avoid hatred, revenge, and grudge-holding—reflecting our commonality as children of God; and the particulars of how, under the circumstances, we are "to love one's neighbor as oneself." (3 pp.) [KEDOSHIM]

Let's Look for a Way Out together—Proposes that High Holy Days may be used productively to search for and act out the highest and best parts of ourselves, the fears that keep us from teshuvah, the basis in hope and faith to overcome our fears, and the value of acting with others in a congregational community. (2 pp.) [HIGH HOLY DAYS]

The Miracle of Yom Kippur—Recognizes that the greatest pain of our wrongdoing for us is the subsequent spiritual alienation we experience, which incrementally destroys our capacity for love, joy, and contentment; the tendency to reify the deadliest parts of ourselves as unchangeable; the redemptive functions of the Temple olah, chatat, and mincha offerings and their prayer substitutes; and the role our prayer offerings play in the miracle of Yom Kippur. (2 pp.) [YOM KIPPUR]

The New Moon of All New Moons—Explores why Avraham planted a tree in b'eir shavah, how he teaches us a new name of God, how this name was related to his hopes for the future, and what the new moon teaches us about the future. (2 pp.) [ROSH HASHANAH]

The Second Day of Rosh Hashanah—Proposes spiritual purposes for the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the necessity of suffering in one's life to take those purposes seriously, the character of spiritual suffering experienced by contemporary American Jews, their estrangement from their spiritual inheritance, and the relevance of the second day's prophetic reading. (2 pp.) [ROSH HASHANAH]

Shared Responsibility for Teshuvah—Points out Moses' concern for the future moral spiritual well being of the people, his extending the covenant beyond those present at Moab, how Jews yet unborn could be obligated in the covenant, Moses' goal to make Israelites responsible for one another, the view of our commentators that teshuvah requires not only personal virtue but communal leadership, and that every Jew is responsible for the teshuvah of others within appropriate arenas of authority. (2 pp.) [NITZAVIM]

A Tale of Two Goats—Describes the paths of the two goats, that they symbolize a single personality, and that they represent our possible destinies, from which we can choose by exercising our unique moral free will. (2 pp.) [YOM KIPPUR]

Tashlich—Service for Rosh Hashanah includes background on tradition of casting bread crumbs or pocket lint on a moving body of water, and community-building kavannot. (10 pp.) [ROSH HASHANAH]

Training Our Children for Life—Contrasts the life-affirming character of Yom Kippur with unwittingly training our children to kil;, reviews the writing of a retired Lt. Col., a former Army Ranger and now a psychologist, outlining how children are trained to kill by video games and other violent media; exhorts parents to engage in self-examination regarding their role in the exposure of children to these learning experiences; and suggests steps to avoid complicity in such learning. (2 pp.) [YOM KIPPUR]

Yomim Nora'im—Awe or Fear of God—Highlights the sound of the shofar as a call to spiritual yoveil; the difficulty of responding, given daily pressures and the search for sensory pleasures to assuage them; the importance of yirat Adonai and the choice we have between fear and awe of God; the role of teshuvah, and the necessity for hitvadah to find the intellectual, emotional, and physical intimacy that accompanies living in awe of God. (1 p.) [HIGH HOLY DAYS]


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Updated: 10/5/16