Sedra of the Week: Rosh Hashanah

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Sedra of the Week: Rosh Hashanah

Rabbi Jonny Roodyn looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah for the Jewish New Year

Rabbi Jonny Roodyn

This Rosh Hashanah will be… well let’s just say different.

Our synagogues will look different, feel different and sound different. The familiar is out the window with Covid requirements and social distancing the order of the day.

Who would have ever imagined that chazzanim could be dangerous? Or something as innocent as a shofar being treated with as much suspicion as a loaded weapon?

 Yet the spreading of aerosols is a serious concern and we must all take necessary precautions, including refraining from communal singing. 

However, in the middle of this muddle, our Yamim Noraim help us chart a path; they are a compass in a topsy-turvy world. 

On Rosh Hashanah, we read of Hannah, the barren woman, whose heartfelt plea for a son was uttered in silence. The Talmud takes her prayer as the prototype for our own, hence the central and most crucial part of the service, the Amidah, is uttered in silent devotion. 

Rosh Hashanah is a day to dream, to yearn for a perfect world and to challenge ourselves to identify and play a part with the national mission of the Jewish people of leading by example as a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. 

There are times when we can sing this out loud and there are times too, as the Chasidic Masters used to say, “keep the fire within”. This year is one such time. 

Whether you choose to go to synagogue, or to pray at home, let your voice join the rest of the Jewish people in muted, yet fervent devotion to striving for a world where evil, pain and bloodshed is a thing of the past and all of humanity is united in devotion to the universal truths that Judaism has been proclaiming since its inception. 

And when we do that, we may just be able to discern God’s very own kol demama daka, still small voice.

  •   Rabbi Jonny Roodyn is education director of Jewish Futures and serves Finchley Federation Synagogue 


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