The Touro Libraries research guides provide High Holiday resources, not only in the library guide known as parasha ha-shavua (the weekly torah reading) and Hagim (festivals), but also through additional guides on various topics, including links to online resources for archival research and education. In 2020, Rosh Hashanah falls on evening of September 18th.
The High Holidays within the context of all the Jewish holidays in the organization of the Jewish calendar are represented throughout Touro College Library Guide resources.
For example, one sketch raises the question of whether the symbolic foods eaten on Rosh Hashanah is merely symbolic for the rational contemplation vs. theurgic supernatural mystical act championed by the Hasidim, which the Rambam as a deontological ethicist might warn risks being a form of delusional theurgic magic.
A second link examines the metaphor of the book on the High Holidays particularly in the Unetanneh Tokef (a Hebrew prayer by Rabbi Amram of Mainz) sung in the synagogues, that states to the effect, “On Rosh Hashanah it is written, on Yom Kippur sealed and implies based on a Talmudic text, on hoshanah rabbah the angels deliver the blueprint to Hashem’s heavenly Temple archive” and the importance of the reverence and cherishing of text in general in general for Judaism.
A third link explores both in Powerpoint form related to the guide on the Jewish arts as the last slides are fine art representations of this event in Genesis 22, and a written sketch of the akedat yitchak known as the “Binding of Isaac” which is chanted on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, raises the question of Providence (hashgahah pratit) vs. free will (behira) and G-d’s foreknowledge (yediah) and is the topic of midrashim found in the Cairo Geniza.
A fourth link of a Powerpoint considers the afternoon reading known as maftir yonah on the day of Yom Kippur, from the perspective of Biblical archeology excavations of ancient Ninevah, cartography, and close textual analysis, among other topics. Ethics is a theme of the book of Jonah in that the Ninevites must repent. On Yom Kippur, we repent our ethical failings in the communal Al chet prayer where one gives a din ve-heshbon (accounting) before the heavenly court in business ethics and in general Jewish ethics, ethical monotheism that Avraham revealed when he left Ur of Chaldea. Up until today in online ethics by applying the laws of forbidden gossip (Hilchot issurei loshon ha-ra) by the Chofetz Chaim and applied in case law to social media.
The fifth set of resources relate to the book of Koheleth chanted on the festival of Sukkot, which raises the important question of the nature of time in all its dimensions. One link shows that striving to dwell poetically in time is the essence of being in the sukkah, whose construction requires that the roof (sakh) allow one to see the stars causing wonder, expressed in King David’s Psalm eight. Other links examine Koheleth themes in the afterlife, and further ideas of Nachmanides knowledge of shemitah ha-olamot.
This post was contributed by David Levy, Chief Librarian, Lander College for Women