Symbols and Myths in Jewish Tradition: The High Holidays
Religion speaks of the point of meeting between God and human beings. Since God is infinite and we are finite, we need a language to speak of that which can not be spoken. We must distinguish between language which “tells” and symbolic language which “shows”. By stirring associations from within and propelling us toward the incomprehensible, symbolic language shows us the way. Surprisingly, few are aware of the symbolic language that Jewish tradition employs to lead us toward God. In these shiurim we will explore together stories and rituals in the Torah connected with the Yamim Noraim such as Akeidat Yitzhak and the ritual of the scapegoat can be understood as projections of God’s “mind”, so to speak We will discuss the fundamental assumption of Chasidut and Torat haNistar that we are all created in God’s image, each of us a letter in the Sefer Torah and as such we are vehicles for God’s revelation in the world. God shines through us. My goal is to convey deeper dimensions of the Torah where Divine and human processes are expressed through the stories and rituals. I believe that this is religiously meaningful in that it ultimately brings together the human and the Divine and frames our Avodat HaShem in a new light.
Symbols and Myths in Jewish Tradition: The High Holidays: Lesson 1
Rosh HaShannah- A study in circular time: We will introduce the distinction between linear and circular time. On Rosh HaShannah we are transported to the primordial moment of creation. The midrash says that God created worlds and destroyed them prior to the creation of our world. What does this mean in terms of how we experience ourselves and our relationship with God on Rosh HaShannah?
Symbols and Myths in Jewish Tradition: The High Holidays: Lesson 2
Symbols and Myths in Jewish Tradition: The High Holidays: Lesson 3
Today the World Was Conceived-The Symbolism of Teki’at Shofar-The sounding of the shofar reenacts the act of creation. We will explore how the mitzvah does this and the suprising meaning behind the dispute over whether the commandment is sounding the shofar (teki’a) or listening to the sound (shmi’a).
Symbols and Myths in Jewish Tradition: The High Holidays: Lesson 4
The Symbolism of the Scapegoat: The midrash states that the two goats which Yaakov brought to his father in order to deceive him and acquire the blessing foreshadow the two goats of Yom HaKippurim. What connection do Yaakov and Eisav have with avodat Yom HaKippurim? The answer to this question casts the struggle between the two brothers in cosmic proportions and opens up a deeper understanding of what the entire period of the high holidays is about.
Symbols and Myths in Jewish Tradition: The High Holidays: Lesson 5
The Mitzvah to Eat on Erev Yom HaKippurim-In this, our final session, we will discover the symbolism behind eating on erev Yom HaKippurim. We will discuss both classical sources (the Rambam and Shaarei Tshuvah) as well as the Zohar and R.Zadok Hakohen of Lublin. It all goes back to the Garden of Eden(of course).