In the days and weeks before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur the prayer services reflect our spiritual preparations. Foremost amongst these liturgical additions are the prayer services of Selichot. These prayers aid us in our process of introspection and self-examination, which should precede Rosh Hashana. Selichot are also part of the morning services for the days before Rosh Hashana and for the days in between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
The Jewish New Year is meant as a day for new beginnings. A day when every aspect of our lives should be examined under the microscope of honesty. We take charge of our lives and we stop being controlled by the inertia of the calendar. Every assumption is questioned and every priority weighed. A day when we are judged by G-d and it should also be a day when we judge ourselves. The purpose of this day is repentance and spiritual acceptance of G-d as the ultimate power and the Torah as the source of His word.
The focal point of Rosh Hashana ritual is the Shofar. Of the many reasons given for this mitzvah, is the idea that sounding the Shofar awakens us from spiritual slumber. The Shofar is sounded 100 times during services with three different types of sounds, each reminiscent of a different kind of human crying. The cathartic impact of honest self-evaluation is thereby embodied in the sounding of the Shofar. As a service to those who cannot attend services on Rosh Hashana, anyone who would like to hear Shofar in their home should contact the Shul with their request. If you know of anyone who may benefit from this service, please let us know.
BLESSING OF THE CHILDREN
On the evening of Kol Nidre, before we leave for the Synagogue, parents should bless their children using the following text, "May G-d make you like Ephraim and Menasheh, May it be the will of our Father in Heaven that He place in your heart the love and fear of Him, that your face reflect reverence of Him, that you will desire Torah and Mitzvot, that your eyes see into the distance and your mouth speak wisdom and your heart harbour the fear of G-d, that your hands engage in good deeds and your feet run to perform G-d's will. May He grant you some day, righteous sons and daughters who will engage in Torah and Mitzvot all their days. May He prepare you for sustenance, which will be honourable and easy and plentiful, granted to you by His gracious hand, so that you will not have to rely on the goodness of flesh and blood and may you always have enough so that you will be free to devote your time to His service. And may you be inscribed, my child, for a good and long life together with all the righteous of Israel. Amen." (Chaye Adam- Rabbi Abraham Dunzig of Vilna)
The Sabbath between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the Sabbath of Repentance. This title is drawn from the Haftora of the day.
This ritual which takes place on Rosh Hashana, consisting of symbolically casting our sins into a body of water, is a plea to G-d to forgive us and to "cast into the depths of the sea all their sins." An additional focus of Tashlich is the Binding of Isaac. On their way to Mt. Moriah, Abraham and Isaac were confronted by a flood which they chose to ignore in their desire to fulfil G-d's commandment. By praying at the waters edge, we recall the merit of the Patriarchs and imply our wish to emulate their righteousness.