Moments of Transcendence: Inspirational Readings for Rosh Hashanah, edited by Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins, Jason Aronson Publisher.
This anthology of religious inspiration for Rosh Hashanah brings together thoughtful and pertinent selections from some of the world’s most eminent thinkers, poets, theologians and philosophers, both Jewish and non-Jewish, recent and ancient.
The author is a rabbi, an educator and a book critic. He writes that the collection is designed to renew the meaning of such High Holy Day themes as sin, repentance, personal and social change, spiritual growth, commitment to high ideals, and deepening our capacity to love and appreciate the diversity of life.
The selections that follow are typical of the many hundreds that make this volume both valuable and necessary.
• The secular new year can be compared to a watch that tells the time. Rosh Hashanah can be compared to an alarm clock that not only tells time but also awakens one from slumber and bestirs one to responsibility. The shofar is physically nothing more than a ram’s horn, but for the Jew it is a spiritual alarm.
– Rabbi Saul I. Teplitz in Life Is for Living
• Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because there then prevailed among the people these three heinous sins: idolatry, unchastity and bloodshed.
Why then was the Second Temple destroyed? Were not people then meticulous in their devotion to the Torah, to the mitzvot and to deeds of kindness? True; nevertheless the Second Temple was destroyed because people harboured baseless hatreds toward one another. From this we learn that baseless hatred is accounted as heinous as the three sins: idolatry, unchastity and bloodshed together.
– Talmud, Yoma 9b
• A man went to his physician to complain about his heart. The physician told him to stretch out his hand so that he might feel his pulse. “But doctor,” said the patient, “it is my heart I am complaining about.” “I know,” said the physician, “but from your hand and its pulse I can tell you about your heart.” The soundness of a Jew’s heart can be judged from his hand. When the pulse of tzedakah does not beat strongly in the life of the Jew, it indicates a weakening of his total Jewish commitment.
– Author unknown
• During the year to come: may you enjoy good health and happiness, may peace reign over our country and throughout the world, may you have a kiss from your beloved, a smile from a child, a warm, cozy house with the aroma of good food baking in the oven, wise governors and merciful tax collectors, companionship of good friends and helpful neighbours. May you enjoy the fruits of your labours, celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, may the sun shine on your face, may you see a rainbow, may the Sabbath Queen enter your home with the teachings of the Torah, may you enjoy giving charity with a free hand, may you have an umbrella whenever it rains, may this year be happy, healthy, and prosperous for you and your loved ones.
– Author unknown
• The wife of the rabbi of Ropchitz said to him, ”Your prayer was lengthy today. Have you succeeded in bringing it about that the rich should be more generous in their gifts to the poor?” The rabbi replied, “Half of my prayer I have accomplished. The poor are unwilling to accept them.”
– Author unknown
• As we usher in the new year, it is my sincerest wish that you may have:
Enough happiness to keep you sweet,
Enough trials to keep you strong,
Enough hope to keep you happy,
Enough failure to keep you humble,
Enough success to keep you eager,
Enough friends to give you comfort,
Enough wealth to meet your needs,
Enough enthusiasm to look forward,
Enough faith to banish depression,
Enough determination to make each day better than yesterday.
And let us all say: Amen!