Liberal Arts Blog — The Jewish High Holidays — A Magic Number, a Special Word, and a Great Debate

Liberal Arts Blog — Tuesday is the Joy of Literature, Language, Religion, and Culture Day

Today’s Topic: The Jewish High Holidays — A Magic Number, a Special Word, and a Great Debate

If you are new to this blog you should know that I believe that all religions are the same at their core and that by delving into any one them will reveal deep truths relevant to all humans at all times. This week I was thrilled to learn a few new things about the Jewish High Holidays from my friend Michael Danto. Thank you, Michael. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

THE MAGIC OF THE NUMBER 18 — THE MEANING OF LIFE, AND A FAMOUS TOAST

1. “In Hebrew, each letter has a numerical value. The number 10 is the letter Yud. The number 8 is the letter Het. Het-Yud spells the word Chai (חי), usually pronounced like the English word “hi” or “high,” which is a word and symbol that means “life.”

2. In fact, a common Jewish toast “L’Chaim!,” which means, “To Life!” is often said at celebrations in anticipation of all the good things to come.”

3. “Judaism is a religion that emphasizes the importance of life and the hope that supports it. As a result, 18 is a popular number that represents good luck. At weddings, bar mitzvahs, and when making honorary donations, Jews often give gifts of money in multiples of 18, symbolically giving the recipient the gift of “life” or luck.

NB: In the Pirkei Avot (part of the Talmud), 18 is given as the “appropriate age to get married.” The “Shemonehy Esrei” (also known as the “Amidah”) is the “center of any Jewish religious service and means “eighteen.” Randomly, Catch-22 was originally Catch-18. So how many Jewish Holidays are there? Michael said there are 18 but I looked in vain for a website to get confirmation. His math was 10 + 7 +1. The 10 days of repentance, the seven days of Sukkoth, and one day of Simchat Torah. Did I get that right? Enlightenment? Please.

SIMCHA — THE MITZVAH (COMMANDMENT) OF GLADNESS

1. The day of Simchat Torah, “Rejoice in the Law”, marks the completion and beginning of the annual cycle of reading the Torah.”

2. “A popular teaching by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov a 19th-century Chassidic Rabbi, is “Mitzvah Gedolah Le’hiyot Besimcha Tamid,” it is a great mitzvah (commandment) to always be in a state of happiness. When a person is happy one is much more capable of serving God and going about one’s daily activities than when depressed or upset.”

3. Have you ever danced with the Torah? “In Chabad Hasidic thought, the traditional dancing with the Torah allows the Jew to act as the “feet” of the Torah, taking the Torah where it wishes to go, as feet transport the head. This is thought as an act of submission to the will of God as expressed in the dictates of the Torah. It is an act that causes the Jew to inherently and naturally observe the Jewish faith. And just as the head benefits from the mobility of the feet, so does the Torah become exalted by the commitment of the Jew.

THE GREATEST JEW: MOSES OR ABRAHAM? OR NEITHER…..

1. Moses gave Jews the Torah. Top that, Abraham!

2. Abraham gave the world Monotheism! No Abraham, no Moses!

3. Abraham was the “Father of the Nation!”

NB: Moses was the savior who led the Jews out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea! In the last link below, Listverse ranks Moses as #2 most influential Jew of all time, with Abraham as #3. Number 1 is Jesus. Thoughts? Who is missing? How about Karl Marx?

https://www.jccmilwaukee.org/judaism-101/chai-and-the-number-18/

High Holy Days — Wikipedia

18 (number) — Wikipedia

Simchat Torah — Wikipedia

Simcha — Wikipedia

https://www.tampabay.com/archive/1994/07/30/moses-tops-jesus-in-one-ranking/

Top 10 Most Influential Jews in History — Listverse

QUOTE OF THE MONTH:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

ATTACHMENTS BELOW:

#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).

#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

YOUR TURN

Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to words, language, literature, religion, culture. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to Words, Language, Literature (eg. quotes, poetry, vocabulary) that you have not yet shared.

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.

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Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.