Monthly Archives: September 2012

L’Shanah Tovah

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Rosh HaShanah is Jewish New Year.  It falls once a year during the month of Tishrei and occurs ten days before Yom Kippur.  Together, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are known as the Yamim Nora’im, which means the Days of Awe in Hebrew.  In English they are often referred to as the High Holy Days.

The Meaning of Rosh HaShanah

Rosh HaShanah literally means “Head of the Year” in Hebrew.  It falls in the month of Tishrei, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar.  The reason for this is because the Hebrew calendar begins with the month of Nissan (when it’s believed the Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt) but the month of Tishrei is believed to be the month in which God created the world.  Hence, another way to think about Rosh HaShanah is as the birthday of the world.

Rosh HaShanah is observed on the first two days of Tishrei.  Jewish tradition teaches that during the High Holy Days God decides who will live and who will die during the coming year.  As a result, during Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur (and in the days leading up to them) Jews embark upon the serious task of examining their lives and repenting for any wrongs they have committed during the previous year.  This process of repentance is called teshuvah.  Jews are encouraged to make amends with anyone they have wronged and to make plans for improving during the coming year.  In this way, Rosh HaShanah is all about making peace in the community and striving to be a better person.

Even though the theme of Rosh HaShanah is life and death, it is a holiday filled with hope for the New Year.  Jews believe that God is compassionate and just, and that God will accept their prayers for forgiveness.

 

L’shana tovah tikatev v’etahetem

May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

Rosh HaShanah

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Rosh HaShanah is the day on which God created Man, Adam, God’s final and most precious creation.  Each Rosh HaShanah, the birthday of Mankind, we proclaim God as our one and true King.  We then reaffirm our desire to serve him every moment of our lives.  At this same time, God reviews the status of his creation and determines if he or she merits another year in this world.

On the first night of Rosh HaShanah, after prayer services, a special greeting is used, which is only said on this night “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.” On Rosh HaShanah, everyone is judged by God based on his or her actions during the previous year.  The resulting judgment is inscribed by God and a person’s future is determined for the following year.  Though that judgment is inscribed, it is not yet sealed and can still be changed at least for another ten days.  God waits until Yom Kippur to seal the book for the year.

How can a person change their judgment for the better?  “Repentance, Prayer, and Charity can remove the bad decree.” God looks especially at three areas during the time between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, the Ten Days of Repentance.  By doing teshuvah with true regret for the past and commitment for the future, a person can erase his misdeeds and hence improve his judgment before it is sealed on Yom Kippur.  Similarly, by praying with greater concentration before God, and by giving charity with the proper spirit, one can also upgrade one’s status.

Defending Deveny

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Yet another well written blog by Gladly

Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear

The stereotyping of atheists as ‘militant’ has now become so common it’s even used as a perjorative by atheists against other atheists.

“No, I don’t believe the state should fund religious schools,” I said at a recent meeting of the Sunshine Coast Atheists.

“Oh, so you’re a militant atheist, then?” responded one of our more elderly members as I sat before him with my fluffy blonde hair and blingy earrings, sipping mildly on a glass of white wine.

Militant? Moi?

As my friend Warren Bonett notes in The Australian Book of Atheism (Bonnett, ed. 2010, p. 328), think of a religious militant and you’ll most likely picture someone wielding a gun. Think of a militant atheist and you’re likely to conjure up an image of Richard Dawkins with a bit of colour in his cheeks.

Yet, Dawkins’ critics routinely accuse him of being ‘militant’, ‘shrill’ and ‘strident’. Anyone who has…

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