Why Do All Past Presidents Take Out Their Sifrei Torah and Walk Around the Sanctuary at Kol Nidrei? Originally published September 21-22, 2018.
During Kol Nidrei we traditionally hold at least two Sifrei Torah, Torah scrolls. Many congregations have transformed this into conferring the honor of holding Sifrei Torah to the distinguished and respected members of the community. It is a blessing to have many scrolls, and that is displayed by honoring individuals with holding them. The scrolls […]
What Is This Book Called a “Mahzor”? Originally published September 14-15, 2018.
On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we set aside our prayer books - our siddurim - and pray with mahzorim instead. Why does this book have a different name? Actually, there are mahzorim for each festival as well as for the High Holy Days. We wrote about the oldest and most comprehensive mahzor, the Mahzor […]
What Are "Selihot"? Originally Published September 7-8, 2018.
We have been hearing this word for a week now. Selihot (סְלִיחוֹת) generically are communal penitential prayers for forgiveness. We say them on fast days, and we say them beginning after the end of the Shabbat which is the week before Rosh Hashanah, or when Rosh Hashanah begins on a Sunday night or a Monday […]
What Does “Tokhehah” Mean? Originally published August 31-September 1, 2018
This week’s portion is Parashat Ki Tavo, which includes the Tokhehah (תּוֹכֵחָה), generally known as the verses of rebuke and warning, which will be chanted sotto voce, in subdued voice. Hebrew words are always constructed around a root, usually comprising three letters, with various vowels, prefixes, and suffixes appended. Some call these lines the verses […]