Sabbath Round-Up October 1 2011

I’ve been collecting odds and ends for my Sabbath Round-Up. They’re more ends than odds, for which I am grateful.

A belated Rosh Hashanah to everyone.

It always seemed more fitting to have the new year begin as the summer ends. On January 1st, I just want to hunker down and read seed catalogues, but in September things cool off to a humane level; the air is warm and still and the world seems benign. The rains are gentle, without a hint of the ice to come. Even the weeds are dying back as the Michaelmas daisies are coming into bloom.

From Chabad, a little background on Rosh Hashanah:

In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, “Head of the Year,” and as its name indicates, it is the beginning of the Jewish year. The anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, it is the birthday of mankind, highlighting the special relationship between G-d and humanity.

The primary theme of the day is our acceptance of G-d as our King. The Kabbalists teach that the renewal of G-d’s desire for the world, and thus the continued existence of the universe, is dependent upon this. We accept G-d as our King, and G-d is aroused, once again, with the desire to continue creating the world for one more year.

Seems to me like one of these years, His ‘desire’ to continue for one more year – while we get no wiser than we ever were – might wane a bit. The trains could run more slowly. The uncertainty would be plainer to see. Not that I’d blame Him.

The lesson on the New Year continues:

The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn. The shofar is sounded on both days of Rosh Hashanah (unless the first day of the holiday falls on Shabbat, in which case we only sound the shofar on the second day). The sounding of the shofar represents, among other things, the trumpet blast of a people’s coronation of their king. The cry of the shofar is also a call to repentance; for Rosh Hashanah is also the anniversary of man’s first sin and his repentance thereof, and serves as the first of the “Ten Days of Repentance” which will culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Altogether, we listen to 100 shofar blasts over the course of the Rosh Hashanah service.

Now that’s more like it. The wake-up call that announces the gladness of the new year is also a call to repent, a call for metanoia. This year, Yom Kippur falls on October 6th through the 7th, twenty-six hours:

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year–the day on which we are closest to G-d and to the quintessence of our own souls. It is the Day of Atonement–”For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G-d” (Leviticus 16:30).

Rosh Hashanah is a feast of sweetness, of the taste of the gathered fruits of the season. Yom Kippur is for purification, but that will come after.

Meanwhile as Carl in Jerusalem said, and I chime in belatedly:

We bless one another with the words Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim, “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

A sweet year.

To observe the day, he had this plaintive song, Chamol al Maasecha (Have mercy on your creations) from the Mussaf service on Rosh HaShanna:

It is often the case that Christian feasts are borrowed or paralleled to the Jewish calendar. I grew up observing St. Michael the Archangel’s Feast Day, (always on September 29th), and as it came so near to the start of school, it made me think of this as a “kind-of” new year. Sequestered in my little Catholic ghetto amid the many miles of Southern Baptists, it didn’t occur to me that there was a connection out there to a real new year.

In old Britain, the Michaelmas term of school began around his feast day, and some courts still adhere to that system, though Michael the Archangel has been rubbed out of the picture.

The wiki on Michaelmas is now the archive for this disappeared bit of Western culture:

Michaelmas, the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel (also the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the Feast of the Archangels, or the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels) is a day in the Western Christian calendar which occurs on 29 September. Because it falls near the equinox, it is associated in the northern hemisphere with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days.


During the Middle Ages, Michaelmas was celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation, but this tradition was abolished in the 18th century. Lutheran Christians consider it a principal feast of Christ, and the Lutheran Confessor, Philip Melanchthon, wrote a hymn for the day that is still sung in Lutheran Churches: “Lord God to Thee We Give.” It was also one of the English, Welsh and Irish quarter days when accounts had to be settled. On manors, it was the day when a reeve was elected from the peasants. Traditional meal for the day includes goose (a “stubble-goose”, i.e. one prepared around harvest time) and a special cake called a St Michael’s bannock. On the Isle of Skye, Scotland, a procession was held.

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Meanwhile, back in the real world, Bill Roggio sent around this “amazing” story – I believe that’s what he called it. It sure is surprising. Makes you realize things aren’t always as monolithic as they’re portrayed:

Foreign Arabs clamor to join Mossad, IDF

by Ryan Jones

Beneath the revitalized layer of exaggerated hatred for Israel spreading over the Middle East dwell thousands of Arabs who are willing to help and even love the Jewish state.

Thanks to the “Arab Spring” revolutions in surrounding nations, a growing number of Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, Iraqis, etc are realizing just how good and decent Israel is compared to their own totalitarian societies, despite the fact that many were raised from childhood to view Israelis as blood-thirsty monsters.

Acting on that realization, and desirous of fleeing new regimes that may actually be worse than the previous rulers, thousands of foreign Arabs have sent requests to Israeli government agencies requesting asylum, visas to visit and even offering to serve the Israeli army and Mossad.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper that it is receiving requests even from “members of Arab parliaments, members of political movements and other important political figures.”

Many of the letters arriving demonstrate that those Arabs not content to simply be spoon-fed a diet of anti-Israel propaganda have come to understand the reality of the Jewish state.

“You are the only country [in the region] that respects personal freedom,” wrote Dawoud, a computer technician from Iraq seeking political asylum in Israel.

“The people of Israel are the strongest and most cultured in the region,” wrote another young man from Iran who wants to move to the Jewish state with his whole family.

Houmam from Iraq wrote in to ask for a loan for treatment for his sick father, noting that “I know you [Israelis] love to help others.”


The phenomenon is yet further evidence that while it may be far from perfect, Israel is recognized even by many Arabs as the most decent nation in the region, and certainly not deserving of being singled out as some kind of pariah.

It is also reminiscent of the Arab immigration to the British Mandate area from 1922-1947 as a result of the prosperity being created by the growing Jewish community. British records show that during those years the Arab population in the area increased by 120 percent, far outpacing the community’s rate of natural growth.

So this phenomenon has a precedent. We didn’t hear much about the one from 1922 to 1947, and we won’t hear much about this one, as fearful Arabs seek refuge. The problem will be, as always, separating the genuine from the infiltrators.

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And so ends the second installment of our Sabbath Round-Up.

For the purposes of full disclosure, I did say the Mossad was paying me for these installments. However, I forgot to add that all payments come in the form of gefilte fish. Each week, my weight in gefilte fish is delivered to our door. I’m trying hard to lose enough poundage so the payments will drop accordingly. If I stick to the Mossad Diet (as it is affectionately known around here) I’m sure that will happen quickly enough.

Meanwhile, here in Virginia our Michaelmas daisies are in full bloom. So full that I shall have to get rid of some before we are over-run with these lovely pink asters.

Belatedly to all, but no less sweet for that, Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim.