Rosh Hashanah 5767

Copyright 2011 Neal Joseph Loevinger

Torah Portion: Rosh Hashana

L’shanah Tovah U’Metukah- a good and sweet New Year to all the old and
new followers of this roaming electronic commentary!

This week’s Torah commentary is not the regular Shabbat reading, of
course, but the special readings for Rosh Hashana, the New Year; you
may remember the main characters of these texts as Avraham and Sarah,
Yitzhak and Yishmael, Hagar, the ram on the mountain, the angels who
arrive just in time (both days), and even Avimelech and Phicol, who
are Avraham’s lieutenants and business partners, as it were. Glancing
over the texts of the two Torah readings (and never mind the haftarot,
or prophetic texts) it becomes astounding to consider the number of
different relationships described, including:

unmarried father-unmarried mother (of the same child)
master- son of the servant
brother in law-sister in law

Of course, there is one overarching Presence inherent in all these
different kinds of human relationships- that is the Presence of the
Merciful One, who gives us the inner capability to overcome our
conflicts, fears, and resentments. The Torah readings on Rosh Hashana
describe families in turmoil, people in desparate pain, relationships
in need of healing, and also the possibility of new insight, renewed
vision, and a fresh start. Perhaps by naming so many different kinds
of relationships in the texts of our Torah readings, the rabbis who
chose them are suggesting that we, too, do a comprehensive inventory
of all our connections- to people, to the Earth, to God- in order to
bring a renewed committment to integrity, compassion and generosity to
all our interactions.

That process of moral inventory and renewed committment is the essence
of t’shuvah, or “return,” which is itself a primary liturgical and
theological theme of the Days of Awe. My hope and prayer for each of
you is that you find inspiration in the continued study of Torah, and
from that study flows inspiration for continual growth, passion for
life, spiritual vision, and deep wellsprings of love. A sweet and
healthy New Year to all, and thank you for the privilege of letting me
share in the study of Torah with each of you.

L’Shanah Tovah,


PS- as usual, the first link is to the text of the Torah portion and
haftarah, plus a nice message from Dr. Arnold Eisen, the incoming
Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

This link is to more learning about Rosh Hashana than you can shake an
apple at:

Finally, here’s the “Shabbat Table Talk” for families, on the Rosh
Hashanah readings:

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