A few Rosh Hashana (5779) links

Sunday evening our associate rabbi gave a sermon (video link) on how we use words to include or exclude. Readers of this journal will recognize the talmudic tale she includes. (So will lots of other people; it's kind of famous.) It's easy for discourses on this topic to be pat bordering on dismissive of real human complexities, but this talk was more nuanced. When she posts a text copy I'll add a link, but for now all I have is a video (~20 minutes).

In the limited and judgmental environments around us, it no longer feels safe to share complex and nuanced thought processes, because disagreements become fodder for personal attacks and expulsion from groups with which we might otherwise align. Growth, which often involves changes and shifts in our opinions and ideas, is treated as inconsistency and flip-flopping. We hone our defenses instead, becoming jaded, snarky, and cynical, to protect ourselves from a society that seems to want to chew us up and spit us out. We wield our words with more force and more violence than most of us would ever inflict physically outside of armed combat.

Monday morning our senior rabbi spoke about pachad, deep fear (video link, ~21 minutes; text). I'm not going to try to summarize it.

I chanted torah on the second day. I didn't realize it was being streamed/recorded until somebody told me on Shabbat. Since it was, I'll share video evidence for anybody who wants to know what I'm talking about when I talk about chanting torah. (That's high-holy-day trop or cantillation, which is different from how we chant on Shabbat.) I decided fairly late to do my own translation from the scroll; by default my rabbi would have read it out of the book. It's not a hard translation, but word order is different between Hebrew and English, which is why there are some brief pauses in places you might not expect just knowing the English. (Also, I never really did settle on a good English word for rakiah; I've heard several.)

On the text for the torah reading: the Reform movement has long read the Akeidah (the binding of Isaac) on the first day of Rosh Hashana, and didn't always observe a second day. When my congregation started doing the second day, instead of moving the Akeidah they chose to read creation, because Rosh Hashana is also the birthday of the world. So that's why you're hearing B'reishit there.