Is Yom Kippur More Festive; Rosch haSchanah More Awesome?

October 2, 2014

EnglishRosh haShanah is usually thought of as a festive, celebratory day, while Yom Kippur is the day of prayer and aweful, awesome judgment, the day of repentance, prayer and spirituality.

But is it perhaps the opposite way around? Could Yom Kippur be actually more festive than Rosh haShanah, and Rosh haShanah be more aweful and awe inspiring? These themes are explored in the following sermon from 5768 (2007) that gave my German book Ein reissendes lärmendes Wildwasser its name. Read the rest of this entry »

Holiday Art

April 4, 2011

The image left is on the 1892 edition of the Rödelheim Machsor, the well known German Jewish holiday prayerbook. It seems to represent the holidays, and I can make out most items. In the center are the Tablets of the Law, for the holiday of Shavu’ot. At the bottom, we find an incense burner in front of a shofar, representing Yom Kippur and Rosh haShana, respectively. The shofar doubles as a stringed instrument, representing the Levitical chants in the Temple. Left, above the shofar, is part of a trumpet, again evoking the Levitical musical performances during the Temple service. To the right and left are myrtle and date palm branches, two of the four species held during the Sukkot services.

However, I am mystified by the other four symbols. On top is the sun, which I am not sure what it is doing here; is it an allusion to Pessach, which always falls out in the early spring? Is it actually a radiating matza, rather than a sun? Immediately to the right of the Tablets of the Law is a structure that could be a building with lots of windows, a box for sorting little items like nails, spices, or whatever, or it could be a book with a very peculiar cover; I don’t know. On the immediate upper left of the Tablets is a kind of tube, which I cannot make sense of, either. Finally, on the left side, there seems to be a kind of chain or arc connecting the trumpet, the shofar or the myrtle branch to the sun, which I can’t interpret, either. Do you have a suggestion? If so, please leave a comment.