Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Some Questions To Get You In The Rosh Hashanah Mood!

From the always interesting Ohr Semayach, Ask The Rabbi:

Dear Rabbi,

I understand that Rosh Hashana is the day of judgment, and Yom Kippur is the day of repentance and forgivness. Shouldn't Yom Kippur be first? Wouldn't we be better off doing Teshuva (repentance) before Rosh Hashana, and go into Rosh Hashana to be judged, already having been forgiven?

And:

Dear Rabbi,

As I understand it, the reason for celebrating Rosh Hashana and other holidays for two days in the Diaspora was that, given the slow pace of communication in days gone by, it was necessary to be certain that the holiday was celebrated on the correct day. But given the instantaneous communications of the present, what is the reason for continuing this practice instead of conforming the celebration to that done in Israel?

And the answers are here and here.

I found the second question especially interesting. I had always assumed that we celebrated two days of Rosh Hashanah out of respect for the olden days when getting the word out about the sighting of the moon was time consuming. But, the Rabbi offers a novel suggestion: even in this day and age, it's possible to have trouble knowing the correct dates for the holidays. Having multiple days of Rosh Hashanah isn't just a nod to the ancients, but a practical maneuver to make Judaism as robust as possible. It's tweaks like that, that allow decentralized religion to thrive after thousands of years.

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