Jews with Views – Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Edition 5784
Which part of the Yamim Nora’im tefillot do you find the most meaningful?
BY SHAYNA GOLDBERG
In every Amidah of Rosh Hashanah, we pray מְלוֹךְ עַל כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ בִּכְבוֹדֶךָ. We ask Hashem to “reign over the entire universe in Your glory” and to “reveal Yourself in the majestic grandeur of Your strength over all the dwellers of Your inhabited world.”
These words powerfully capture for me the essence of the Yamim Nora’im. These are not only days of personal judgment when individuals introspect, repent and yearn to be deserving of another year of life. It is also a time to recognize Hashem’s kingship and beg Him to reign over not only the Jewish people but the entire universe. “Let everything that has been made know that You are its Maker.” We yearn for absolute clarity of purpose, for an understanding of both our personal and collective roles in life, and for direction for ourselves and for others. A world where “everything with a life’s breath in its nostrils will proclaim that G-d of Israel is King and His Kingship rules over everything” will be a world of order and justice, a world filled with peace, meaningful interactions and experiences and a joint desire to fulfill G-d’s vision in its entirety.
Shayna Goldberg is the author of the book “What Do You Really Want? Trust and Fear at Life’s Crossroads and in Everyday Living” (Maggid, 2021), an editor for Deracheha, a website on women and mitzvot, and a mashgicha ruchanit for the SKA Beit Midrash for Women (Migdal Oz).
BY ISAAC BARCHICHAT
For me, the tefillah that stands out among all others is the Kol Nidrei prayer. This is the moment when each Jew throughout the world, religious or not religious, Zionist or not Zionist, for or against the current judicial reform, takes a moment to retrospect and reflect upon their purpose in this world.
This is a unique moment in the Jewish calendar, when young children come with their parents to shul and meet with their elders to pray all together for a year full of life and success.
In France, as in many other communities, the privilege to chant the Kol Nidrei is often given not to the chazan but to the oldest or wisest person in the congregation, creating a de facto connection between the different generations within the community. This is when we hope and pray that the chosen shaliach delivers our prayers to Hashem and convinces Him to positively accept our prayers. This is the most beautiful moment, when Jews throughout France pray together, united as one, with great hope for the future of our community.
Isaac Barchichat is a Yeshiva University graduate, Deputy Mayor in the Paris region, an activity community leader, director of a youth movement, married to Batya and a father of four. Isaac has been recently appointed Director of Mizrachi France.
BY REBBETZIN LEAT MILLUNCHICK
As a mum of 5, tefillah has changed for me over the years.
There were years when I was in shul from the beginning of davening until the end, or simply able to daven at home without any disturbances. Later on there were days where my husband would catch an early shacharit and he would take over with the kids so I could daven at shul. More recently, we were blessed with twins and the pregnancy was very hard, so at this point in my life simply fasting on Yom Kippur was a challenge, and tefillah became secondary. As women, our relationship with tefillah can change depending on our circumstances, which is not a bad thing. It gives us a chance to stop and appreciate our blessings, and then, when life slows down again, we can reconnect to Hashem through tefillah more often.
The Yamim Nora’im are so packed with tefillot, that for me, whatever I manage to get through is a triumph. But the tefillah I connect with the most is Ne’ilah. By that point, the kids are sleeping, and I can take my time, alone, to daven and connect with Hashem and think seriously about the year gone by, what we achieved as a family, and what we want to achieve in the coming year. I think of the areas in which we’ve succeeded, and the struggles we have gone through. Davening at home, in the environment where we are making our lives flourish, allows me to connect to Hashem and be truly grateful and have the most meaningful tefillah.
Rebbetzin Leat Millunchick is a graduate of the Susi Bradfield Leadership Course at LSJS, Machon Puah and the Eden Centre. Previously, Leat was the head of informal education at Hasmonean High School. Leat is an accomplished doula and childbirth educator, and is passionate about nurturing healthy and sustainable family life. Leat is a graduate of Mizrachi’s Shalhevet program and currently serves as Rebbetzin at Belmont shul in London, UK.
BY RABBI BEN ZION ALGAZI
The tefillot of the Yamim Nora’im are a unique, once in a year opportunity.
As Chazal say, we begin with the concept of “Open for me like the opening of a needle, and I will open for you like the width of the heichal,” and ends with the shutting of Ne’ilah. The message is that there is a one-off opening and closing, and a unique opportunity that has to be grabbed. One who approaches the tefillot with this mentality has a completely different approach – these are not just any tefillot, but a unique opportunity that we don’t want to miss.
If a poor person knows that there is a potential donor available to meet at one specific time, they will do whatever they can to be as prepared and present as possible for that time – and it is with that mindset that we need to approach the tefillot of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a special time where we can pray for everything, on a personal and national level.
Rabbi Ben Zion Algazi is the Founder and Author of Tzurba M’Rabanan, a learning program with tens of thousands of learners around the world, and the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hesder Ramat Gan.
BY NEDIVA BUECHLER
For me, as clichéd as it may be, the most meaningful tefillah during the Yamim Nora’im has always been U’netaneh Tokef. It is the only one that has been guaranteed to make me take stock, to remind me of the overwhelming and all-encompassing power of Hashem, and causes me to come as close as is personally possible to fully appreciating how things are completely outside of our control as humans. It makes me think of the people who have been lost, and the people I am afraid to lose in the future. It encompasses how much things can change in one short year, and how often we take that time for granted. It is the only tefillah that has ever brought me to tears, and on occasion, to my knees. It simultaneously terrifies me and makes me feel hopeful, it reminds me of my insignificance and my importance. It causes me to beg for what I hope the future will bring, and reminds me that the outcomes will be determined by a combination of my choices and how said choices are viewed in a Divine context. Am I good enough? Can I ever be? I guess we’ll find out.
Nediva Buechler works as the Menahelet at Midreshet Amudim in Yerushalayim. She participated in Mizrachi’s Shalhevet and Lapidot programs, as well as Matan’s Eshkolot Educators program, and is passionate about infertility education. She has a background in graphic design, education, and tour guiding, and currently lives in Sha’alvim with her husband and son.