September 10, 2007

L'Shanah Tovah, Happy New Year: On this day, the world was conceived.

Traditional holiday fruit, a pomegranate pregnant with seeds

Hayom harat olam.
On this day, the world was conceived.

These words conclude the first and most central idea in the Rosh Hashanah Jewish festival prayer service that begins this Wednesday evening of the year 5768 in the Jewish calendar.

. . . throughout this day and the ten days of return and renewal that it introduces, we remind ourselves . . . that the universe is a cause for wonder, for acknowledgment, for worshipful thanks, and for responsibility. . .

. . . Birth always inspires us with awe and wonder. . . But today we are to reflect not on the birth of a single child, not on the mystery of our own existence, not even just on the existence of whole species of life, but rather on the conception and the birth of the entire universe.

— From the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)

A call to profound awareness.
What responses are possible?
The ruminations, thoughts, and introspections — the responses drive the cheshbon nefesh, accounting of the soul work I have already begun this High Holy Day period.

About the pomegranate.
On the second night of Rosh Hashanah, we eat a new seasonal fruit that we have not yet tasted. Why a pomegranate? The pomegranate, one of the Seven Species, or fruits and grains that the Hebrew Bible (Deuteronomy 8:8) lists as special products of the Land of Israel, is considered "pregnant" with 613 seeds. The Bible mentions 613 mitzvot, commandments of good deeds to perform, and so we want our mitzvot in the coming year to be legion.

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littlepurplecow said...

I enjoyed reading about the High Holy Day period via the link you included in your post.

The text on that site mentions the importance of accountability in the Book of Life. You and I have talked about the Christian belief of a life after death. Do all members of the Jewish faith believe that a human life ceases to exist upon death?

Rurality said...

One of the most symbolic fruits, I think! I believe I've read that before, about the number of seeds representing the number of commandments... but I really love the idea of wanting the upcoming year's good deeds to be as numerous! :)

Next year I will try to post in advance if we are selected again for the Yellow Daisy festival! :)

Tamar Orvell said...

Stephanie – I love your question, which requires a lifetime of learning to answer! For now, I refer you to a couple of links (and what’s a link list without a YouTube video?) for rich discussions on Olam Ha-Ba: The Afterlife. (Judaism 101) (Life After Death-a Jewish View of Olam Habah JewU)

Aware that Jews (like any faith community or religious or spiritual identity) represent a broad spectrum of behaviors and beliefs, I list some points about traditional Jewish thought (versus Reform and Reconstructionist denominations, as examples), from Judaism 101.

>> . . . because Judaism is primarily focused on life here and now rather than on the afterlife, Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife, and leaves much room for personal opinion.

>> The Torah emphasizes immediate, concrete, physical rewards and punishments rather than abstract future ones. . . . Later portions of the Tanakh [Hebrew Scriptures] speak more clearly of life after death and the World to Come.

>> Judaism is not focused on the question of how to get into heaven. Judaism is focused on life and how to live it.

>> The predominant view of Judaism is that the righteous of all nations have a share in Olam Ha-Ba.

QUASAR9 said...

Possibly my favourite fruit
Can't get enough