THE THOUGHTS OF ONE MAN
TRYING TO AWAKEN
WHILE HELPING OTHERS TO AWAKEN
BY ASKING THIS QUESTION:
"WHAT IS YOUR SOUL TRYING TO TELL YOU?"

01 October 2014

The Rosh Hashanah Seder: A Night of Renewal


This seder was celebrated immediately after Shabbat Shuvah. For this reason, the holiday kiddush, the kindling of the Shabbat lights, etc., were omitted.

On Rosh Hashanah, the sound of the shofar summons us to turn inward so we can reach outward, so we can repair (where necessary) and strengthen (when possible) our relationships with other people. In the days leading up to the formal inauguration of the Jewish New Year 5775, I found myself thinking of our brothers and sisters who self-identify as Jews even though their connection to Am Yisra’el, that is, the worldwide Jewish community, grows more tenuous with every passing year.

The Torah Has Seventy Faces, Shivim Panim L’Torah!

This exegetical principle serves to remind us that there isn’t one way to be Jewish, one way to go about doing something considered to be Jewish. In truth, for every Jew, there is a Judaism! 

Sixty-two percent of American Jews, for instance, define their brand of Judaism in terms of ancestry and culture rather than religious belief, and thirty percent prefer to keep their distance from brick-and-mortar Judaism, that is, remain unaffiliated.

The greatest merit of the synagogue, despite its imperfections, is that it serves as a place where the ancient voices of our tradition can be heard and celebrated. The Bet HaMikdash isn’t the only place where this occurs but the primary one. As the paradigms shift, and we move from
bimah to shulchan just as we moved from mizbeach to bimah, many of the synagogues and temples are emptying out.

What will become of our unsynagogued brothers and sisters? How long can they sustain themselves on lighting Chanukah candles and trekking to their grandparents’ place for Passover? What will become of them? Indeed, what will become of us?
There’s more to the New Year than apples ‘n’ honey over breakfast cereal, isn’t there?

These questions helped to give rise to the Rosh Hashanah Seder: A Night of Renewal. This short work, through the medium of the ancient Rosh Hashanah seder, brought the celebration of Rosh Hashanah to those who wouldn’t be going to the synagogue for the High Holy Days.

From the onset, the Seder reminded participants that observance of the New Year hinges on return, on return to their true selves. The radiance of Adam and Eve, who were created on Rosh Hashanah, helped them to focus on the Light they carry within themselves—“Adam’s heel outshone the globe of the sun”—and on their responsibility to be in right relation to others so that that Light can shine unencumbered and unobstructed, thereby renewing the world.

The Seder stressed the necessity of repentance—such an old-fashioned word—particularly, restitution, that is, righting the wrongs committed against others to the fullest extent possible, and introduced participants to the Four Rs, which are in continuous motion at Rosh Hashanah: Remembrance, Repentance, Return, and Renewal.  

Said Rabbi Abaye, “[One] should regularly eat pumpkins, fenugreek, leeks, beets, and dates on New Year’s Day.”

Alongside the familiar apple, date, and pomegranate, new foods—based on English words puns—were added to facilitate the process of introspection.

Take the food CAULiflower, for example.
What does Charles Williams Jr. have to do with Rosh Hashanah?

In 1877, the first residential telephone line in the world was installed. Charles Williams Jr., who lived in Somerville and worked in Boston, was given two telephone numbers—1 and 2—which connected his home and office.

In the decades since, the lines and numbers have proliferated. With the rise of social media, the old fashioned phone CALL seems to becoming rarer and rarer. Danielle Steele, the best-selling novelist in the world, once said, “I need context, nuance and the warmth and tone that can only come from a human voice.”

May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that we eat CAULiflower, we remember from time to time to CALL one another so we can hear the voice of God on the other end of the line. 


Lastly, mindful of the teaching that the world was created in the month of Tishrei, the Seder invited participants to enter into a life partnership with the earth by making the Vow to the Earth, which countless people made at the very end of the People’s Climate March in New York City, before the art installation Birth Canal to the Future:

I (Your Full Name), do take Planet Earth, source of all which sustains me, as my life partner from this moment forth. At this time of public outcry, I offer my solemn vow to consider You with every step I take upon You. I may not be perfect, but strive to find that place where my gifts meet Your dire need for respect. Forgive my shadows + blindspots. I hold this now as a sacred task: to bring us all into Harmony. To use less, enjoy more + co-create with sustainability. Beautiful Earth, I promise to respond, love, respect + cherish You, so long as I shall live.

Participants concluded the Rosh Hashanah Seder: A Night of Renewal in these words: 

We continue the journey that began with the sounding of the Great Shofar! The foods we have eaten helped us to remember the work that we must undertake and complete in order to progress on the spiritual path. Remembrance leads to Repentance, Repentance leads to Return, Return leads to Renewal, Renewal leads to Life, and Life leads to Light! 

Happy New Year!  Shanah Tovah!

The Rosh Hashanah Seder

Leader: Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572), the Ari (lion), the Father of Kabbalah, reminds us that the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, which means “Head of the Year,” has everything to do with return, so much so that it could be called the Return of the Year.

“Every year, on Rosh Hashanah,” he taught, “everything returns to its very beginning. Creation is renewed. All that was created in the beginning comes into being again. Thus each Rosh Hashanah the world is re-created.” 1


All: Return leads to renewal. Rosh Hashanah is an invitation to return, to return to ourselves. If we return to our true selves, our purest selves, we will renew our selves, the world, and all of creation.

Reader: What is the meaning of return?

All: There is more than one answer to this question. The Hebrew word teshuvah (T-SHU-VA) can be translated as return. Return is a process. One return makes another possible. There is a series of returns that lead up to the Great Return.

Reader: What is the meaning of true selves?

All: Once again, there is more than one answer to this question. Some would say that the one’s true self is the most authentic version of oneself. Kabbalists would go further, however.

Leader: Every single thing, animate and inanimate, kabbalists would say, contains a Drop of Light that is in the process of returning to the Ocean of Light. They refer to the Drop as Ohr Memale (OR MEM-A-LE), the Ocean as Ohr Ein Sof (OR AYN SOF), and the Return as Kelot Ha’nefesh (C-LOT HA-NE-FESH). 

Reader: If Return leads to Renewal, what leads to Return?

All: Repentance. According to the Talmud, the Divine brought repentance into existence before creation itself.2

Reader: In rabbinic thought, Complete Repentance or Teshuvah Gemurah (T-SHU-VA  G-MU-RA) consists of five elements, including restitution, which is key. Repentance is also a process. One repentance leads to another. Repentance clears the path for Return. 

All: From the Jewish perspective, if we’ve harmed another person, the Divine doesn’t want to hear from us unless we’ve gone to that person to right the wrong. We are expected to walk the walk instead of talk the talk. The Talmud reminds us that “the Day of Atonement,” that is, Yom Kippur, “atones for sins against God, not for sins against [human beings], unless the injured party has been appeased.” 3

Leader: The power of righting the wrong to the fullest extent possible cannot be underestimated. It is karma-busting par excellence. The concept of karma exists in Kabbalah. The maxim What goes around comes around, for instance, is known as Hok Ha’gemul (HOC HA-GE-MUL).

“Every year, on Rosh Hashanah,” the Ari taught, “everything returns to its very beginning.” So, let us go back to the beginning. To help us step into the Time Before Time, I invite you to hold up to your ear the shell of the Australian Trumpet—Syrinx Aruanus. Rosh Hashanah, incidentally, is also known as Yom Teruah (YOM T-RU-A), the Feast of Trumpets.


Participants pass around a large shell so they can take turns holding it up to their ears. They can make short comments while the shell is being passed, but they must remain silent while someone is pressing to his or her ear.

Leader: In this Silence Beyond Silence something extraordinary occurred. 

Reader: “E-LO-HEEM said, ‘Let there be light;’ and there was light. E-LO-HEEM saw that the light was good, and E-LO-HEEM separated the light from the darkness. E-LO-HEEM called the light Day, and the darkness…Night.”  (Genesis / B-RAY-SHEET 1:3-5) 

Leader: And as the story goes, E-LO-HEEM went on to create over a period of six days.

Reader: On the sixth day, “E-LO-HEEM said, ‘Let us make man [woman] in our image, after our likeness…. And E-LO-HEEM created man [woman] in His [Her] image, in the image of E-LO-HEEM He [She] created him [her]; male and female He [She] created them.”  (Genesis / B-RAY-SHEET 1:26-27). 

Reader: According to the spiritual teachers who came before us, on Rosh Hashanah, that is, the First of Tishrei (TEESH-RAY), in the fourth hour, the Divine breathed a soul into Adam (A-DAM); in the fifth hour, Adam stood on his feet; and in the seventh hour, the Divine created Eve (CHA-VA). 4 

All: Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of Adam and Eve, the birthday of humankind. Rosh Hashanah is our birthday!

Leader: “E-LO-HEEM said, ‘Let us make man [woman] in our image, after our likeness.”
In our image: B-TZAL-MAY-NU. After our likeness: CEED-MU-TAY-NU.
Participants chant B-TZAL-MAY-NU  CEED-MU-TAY-NU four times.

Reader: It is said that “Adam possessed a body of Light, which shone from one end of the world to the other. This Light was identical with the primordial Light that was created on the first day. So bright was this Light that Adam’s heel outshone the globe of the sun; how much more so the brightness of his face.” 5 

As participants say the following text, the Leader should encourage them to make eye contact with each another, especially when they exclaim, “You were radiant!” Repeating the text three or four times not only communicates a powerful truth but provides levity.

All: Adam was radiant! Eve was radiant! I was radiant! You were radiant! We were all radiant! 

Participants chant B-TZAL-MAY-NU  CEED-MU-TAY-NU four more times.

Leader: The Days of Awe or YA-MEEM  NO-RA-EEM, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, give us an opportunity to return, to rediscover this radiance.

Reader: According to the Talmud, “on Rosh Hashanah, three books are opened—one with the names of the completely righteous, one with the names of the completely wicked, one with the names of those who are neither completely righteous nor completely wicked. The completely righteous: their verdict—life—is written down and sealed at once. The completely wicked: their verdict—death—is written down and sealed at once. Those neither completely righteous nor completely wicked: their verdict is suspended between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. If they are deemed to deserve it [by resolving to repent], they are inscribed for life; if [they fail to repent] and are therefore deemed not to deserve life, they are inscribed for death.” 6 

Reader: What is meant by Life? And what is meant by Death?

All: Perhaps Life and Death, in this context, refer to spiritual states: Life to being Awake or Aware and Death to being Asleep or Unaware. 

Leader: According to Rabbi Isaac, “Four things cancel the doom of a man [or woman], namely, charity, supplication, change of name, and change of conduct.”7 

Reader: And what of the Rosh Hashanah Seder? Does it cancel the doom of a man or woman? 

All: The Rosh Hashanah Seder helps us to focus on change of conduct. It helps us to remember, to remember the work that we must do to be in right relation to ourselves, to the universe, that is, one another, and to the Divine. This work must be undertaken and successfully completed if doom is to be canceled or spiritual death kept at bay. 

All: At Rosh Hashanah, four Rs are in continuous motion: Remembrance, Repentance, Return, and Renewal. 

Reader: And what of the foods at the Rosh Hashanah Seder? 

Reader: Said Rabbi Abaye (d. 339 C.E.), “[One] should regularly eat pumpkins, fenugreek, leeks, beets, and dates on New Year’s Day.”8 His words gave rise to the first New Year’s Seder, which originated among the Jews of the Middle East, Portugal, and Spain. One version of this ancient text (taken from the Artscroll Machzor for Rosh Hashanah by Mesorah Publications) is embedded in this Rosh Hashanah Seder: A Night of Renewal. 

Leader: Let us continue the journey that began with the sounding of the shofar! 

All: Let us continue the journey! May the foods we eat enable us to remember the work that we must undertake and complete in order to progress on the spiritual path, which leads to Light. Remembrance leads to Repentance, Repentance leads to Return, Return leads to Renewal, Renewal leads to Life, and Life leads to Light!

Kindling the Light(s)

Note: Though it isn’t Rosh Hashanah or Shabbat, Light can be kindled to honor the seder and the ongoing spiritual work that it facilitates. 

One or more participants kindle the light(s).

All: May this Light / these Lights whisper the Truth that One Bright, Pure, White Light looks the eyes of the many.

Let us, then, proclaim:

“Blessed is the Light within each person. BA-RUCH    HA-OR    BA-A-DAM.”   



Giving Thanks for This moment

Leader: Let us gives thanks for this moment:

All: BA-RUCH    A-TA   YAH   E-LO-HAY-NU    RU-ACH    HA-O-LAM,  SHE-HE-CHE-YA-NU V-CEE-Y-MA-NU    V-HEE-GEE-A-NU   LA-Z-MAN   HA-ZE.

Blessed are You, Yah, our Power, Breath of All, Who has kept us alive and has sustained us and has brought us to this season.



Giving Thanks for the Bread

Reader: According to some, the One Round Bread / One Round Challah (CHA-LA) represents the crown of the Divine, the King, the Queen. Notice that the bread is surrounded by flowers. The Ring of Flowers represents our crown and reminds us of our divinity. “E-LO-HEEM said, ‘Let us make man [woman] in our image, after our likeness.” And according to others, the One Round Bread / One Round Challah (CHA-LA) reflects Oneness, the seamless Oneness of All.

All: May this One Round Bread / One Round Challah (CHA-LA) whisper the truth that we are ALL in it together, and whatever we do to others, we do to ourselves.

BA-RUCH    A-TA   YAH   E-LO-HAY-NU    RU-ACH    HA-O-LAM,  HA-MO-TZEE 

LE-CHEM   MEEN  HA-A-RETZ.

Blessed are You, Yah, our Power, Breath of All, Who brings forth bread from the Earth.

Participants, especially if they haven’t done so yet, dip a piece of bread in honey.

All: I am you, and you are me. We are them, and they are us. As we help the Truth of Oneness dispel the Falsehood of Separateness, may life become sweeter for every being the face of the earth. Everyone eats the bread / challah that was dipped in honey.



The Foods on the Rosh Hashanah Seder Plate

All: Chai (CHY), the Hebrew word for Life, has a numerical value of 18. Our Rosh Hashanah Seder Plate contains 18 foods, which are arranged in the shape of the Neolithic (New Stone Age) spiral, which, among other things, symbolizes rebirth.

Leader: In the Rosh Hashanah Seder, we’re asked to do two things at once: set an intention (for ourselves, one another, and / or the world) and eat. In a very real sense, the foods of the seder function as intentions and the eating of those foods as the fulfillment of those intentions. In other words, food is prayer and eating is praying. Before we eat, however, the ancient text of the seder calls on us to look to the Divine and speak aloud the words, Yehi Ratzon (Y-HEE  RA-TZON), May it be Your will.

Let us prepare ourselves for the seder.

Participants chant Yehi Ratzon (Y-HEE  RA-TZON) two to four times, each time stretching out the word Yehi.

Y-HEE, -EE, -EE, -EE, -EE, (pause) -EE, -EE, -EE, -EE, -EE  RA-TZON.





Note that the word Traditional identifies the ancient text of the seder. 



Apple (Traditional) 

Say the blessing over the apple (TA-PU-ACH), dip the apple in honey (D-VASH), pray aloud, and then eat.

All: BA-RUCH   A-TA   A-DO-NY   E-LO-HAY-NU   ME-LECH
HA-O-LAM   BO-RAY   P-REE  HA-AYTZ.

Blessed are You, Yah, our Power, Source of All, Who creates the fruit of the tree.

Y-HEE   RA-TZON   MEE-L-FA-NE-CHA   A-DO-NY   E-LO-HAY-NU   VAY-LO-HAY
A-VO-TAY-NU  SHE-T-CHA-DAYSH   A-LAY-NU   SHA-NA   TO-VA   UM-TU-CA.

May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that You renew the year for us so that it is good and sweet.


WATERmellon

Reader: On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Jews read the story of Hagar (HA-GAR) and her son Ishmael (EESH-MA-AYL) who were literally dying of thirst in the wilderness of Beer Sheba (B-AYR  SHA-VA) until “[The Divine] opened her eyes and she saw a well of WATER.” (Genesis / B-RAY-SHEET 21:19) 

All: May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that as we eat WATERmelon, we let go of the past, mindful of the adage, “It’s WATER under the bridge,” and open our eyes so that we can see the sources of life-giving WATER, the sources of blessing, all around us.


PEAR

Reader: “Too much self-centered attitude, you see,” says the Dalai Lama, “brings, you see, isolation. Result: loneliness, fear, anger. The extreme self-centered attitude is the source of suffering.”9 In short, we need one another. There are needs of ours that only another person can satisfy. He or she may emerge as the collaborator, the friend, the lover, or the spouse for whom we have longed and prayed. Blessed be the PAIR. In Kabbalah, for example, spiritual friendship, that is, a PAIR of spiritual friends or hitkashrut (HEET-CASH-RUT), who bring out one another’s best qualities, is especially celebrated. 

All: May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that as we eat PEAR, we become one of a PAIR.


BLUEberry

Reader: The BLUEs or depression can be fleeting or long-lasting. Sometimes the source is known, other times unknown. It is estimated that 6.7% of American adults experience the often debilitating effects of major depression.10 

All: May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that as we eat BLUEberry, we remember that we are bigger than our afflictions and diagnoses and summon the strength to successfully manage or eliminate them.


CANTaloupe

Reader: The word CAN’T is necessary for self-preservation. Saying I CAN’T or I cannot enables each of us to draw or establish necessary boundaries. 

All: May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that as we eat CANTaloupe, our ability to say I CAN’T as well as our ability to discern under what circumstances to say I CAN’T increases.


APricot

Reader: As of September 2014, there were 1,300,000 APps available in the iPhone APp Store. 11 

All: May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that as we eat APricot, we choose APps and other technologies that help rather than hinder our efforts to understand and connect to ourselves and each other.


Date (Traditional)

All: TA-MAR, Hebrew for date, is related to SHE-YEE-TA-MU, which means “perished.”

Y-HEE   RA-TZON   MEE-L-FA-NE-CHA   A-DO-NY   E-LO-HAY-NU   VAY-LO-HAY
A-VO-TAY-NU  SHE-YEE-TA-MU   SO-N-NAY-NU.

May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that those who hate us perish.



BANana

Reader: What habitual thoughts, words, and behaviors must be BANished from our lives? What group behaviors must be BANished from the face of the earth so that the Messianic Age—which peoples from various faith traditions await—can come upon us? 

All: May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that as we eat BANana, we clearly see the steps that we must take to remove these internal and external life-takers from our midst.


Pomegranate (Traditional)

All: REE-MON, Hebrew for pomegranate, is explicitly mentioned in this prayer.

Y-HEE   RA-TZON   MEE-L-FA-NE-CHA   A-DO-NY   E-LO-HAY-NU   VAY-LO-HAY
A-VO-TAY-NU   SHE-NAR-BE   Z-CHU-YOT   C-REE-MON.

May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that we have as many merits as a pomegranate has seeds.
At this point in the seder, between the fruits and the vegetables, participants may want to freshen their drinks and / or stretch a bit.


TURNip

Reader: Rosh Hashanah has everything to do with T-SHU-VA, which means, among other things, “turning.” Once again, we can engage in the work of TURNing. If we so choose, each of us can TURN away from thoughts, words, and behaviors that inevitably take us away from our higher ourselves, and each of us can TURN toward those whom we have harmed, hurt, and wronged and say, “I am sorry, let me repair what I have broken.” In addition, we can turn toward those pursuits that we have put off over and over again, which will enable us to emerge as more authentic versions of ourselves. 

All: May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that as we eat TURNip, we turn away from Darkness and toward Light.


Cabbage (Traditional)

All: C-RUV, Hebrew for cabbage, is related to SHE-YEE-CAR-TU, which means “destroyed.”

Y-HEE   RA-TZON   MEE-L-FA-NE-CHA   A-DO-NY   E-LO-HAY-NU   VAY-LO-HAY
A-VO-TAY-NU  SHE-YEE-CAR-TU   SO-N-AY-NU.

May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that those who hate us be destroyed.



Beet (Traditional)

All: SE-LEC, Hebrew for beet, is related to SHE-YEES-TAL-CU, which means “removed.”

Y-HEE   RA-TZON   MEE-L-FA-NE-CHA   A-DO-NY   E-LO-HAY-NU   VAY-LO-HAY
A-VO-TAY-NU  SHE-YEES-TAL-CU   O-Y-VAY-NU.

May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that our enemies be removed.



CAULiflower

Reader: What does Charles Williams Jr. have to do with Rosh Hashanah?

In 1877, the first residential telephone line in the world was installed. Charles Williams Jr., who lived in Somerville and worked in Boston, was given two telephone numbers—1 and 2—which connected his home and office.12

In the decades since, the lines and numbers have proliferated. With the rise of social media, the old fashioned phone CALL seems to becoming rarer and rarer. Danielle Steele, the best-selling novelist in the world, once said, “I need context, nuance and the warmth and tone that can only come from a human voice.”13

May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that we eat CAULiflower, we remember from time to time to CALL one another so we can hear the voice of God on the other end of the line.



PEPpers 

Reader: We’re exhausted! According to the National Sleep Foundation, 25% percent of us get between 6 and 7 hours of sleep each night and 14% less than 6.14 Nevertheless, on so little energy we’re expected to do so much. 

All: May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that as we eat PEPper, we have enough PEP to finish everything before us so we can sleep more than 8 hours.


MAIZE

Reader: Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation that’s so confusing and complicated we feel as though we’re trapped in a MAZE, which can be very scary. The ancient Mayans believed MAIZE to be the source of humankind, and to this day, their descendants address an ear of corn as “Your Grace.” 15 

All: May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that as we eat MAIZE, we become evermore conscious of our indwelling divinity in which fear cannot dwell.


Carrot (Traditional)                                                                                               (GE-ZER) 

All: In this prayer, the Hebrew word SHE-YEER-BU means “increased.” At this point, it is customary to eat any food that conveys the notion of abundance. MEH-REN, Yiddish for carrot, also means “to increase.” RU-B-YA, Aramaic for fenugreek, implies “increase.”

Y-HEE   RA-TZON   MEE-L-FA-NE-CHA   A-DO-NY   E-LO-HAY-NU   VAY-LO-HAY
A-VO-TAY-NU  SHE-YEER-BU   Z-CHU-YO-TAY-NU.

May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that our merits be increased.



Squash (Traditional)

All: CA-RA, Aramaic for squash, is related SHE-YEE-CA-RA, which means “torn asunder.”

Y-HEE   RA-TZON   MEE-L-FA-NE-CHA   A-DO-NY   E-LO-HAY-NU   VAY-LO-HAY
A-VO-TAY-NU  SHE-YEE-CA-RA   RO-A   G-ZAR   DEE-NAY-NU   V-YEE-CAR-U
L-FA-NE-CHA   Z-CHU-YO-TAY-NU.

May it be Your Will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that the bad part of the decree of our sentence be torn asunder and our merits be proclaimed before You.



Leader: We have one more ritual food to eat together, but before we do, I would like to point out the obvious: Everything we ate, everything we took into our bodies, came from the earth. Our bodies came from the earth, and in the fullness of time, they will return to the earth.

Rosh Hashanah calls on us to initiate a “change of conduct,” to take the steps required to ensure that we are in right relation to ourselves, to the universe, which includes Planet Earth, and to the Divine.

At the very end of the People’s Climate March, I visited the installation Birth Canal to the Future where marchers were given an opportunity to be in harmony with their natural surroundings. They were invited to enter into a life partnership with the earth by making the Vow to the Earth.

Let’s each of us embrace the earth.
 

Together, participants read the vow below.  

Entering into a Partnership with the Earth

All: I (Your Full Name), do take Planet Earth, source of all which sustains me, as my life partner from this moment forth. At this time of public outcry, I offer my solemn vow to consider You with every step I take upon You. I may not be perfect, but strive to find that place where my gifts meet Your dire need for respect. Forgive my shadows + blindspots. I hold this now as a sacred task: to bring us all into Harmony. To use less, enjoy more + co-create with sustainability. Beautiful Earth, I promise to respond, love, respect + cherish You, so long as I shall live.16

Leader: Let us continue.


Fish (Traditional)

Candy or Swedish Fish can be used in place of the head of a fish or sheep, which various versions stipulate.

All: DA-GEEM, Hebrew plural for fish, is explicitly mentioned in this prayer.

Y-HEE   RA-TZON   MEE-L-FA-NE-CHA   A-DO-NY   E-LO-HAY-NU   VAY-LO-HAY
A-VO-TAY-NU  SHE-NEEF-RE   V-NEER-BE   C-DA-GEEM.

May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that we be fruitful and multiply like fish.

As a head: L-ROSH. And not as a tail: V-LO   L-ZA-NAV.

Y-HEE   RA-TZON   MEE-L-FA-NE-CHA   A-DO-NY   E-LO-HAY-NU   VAY-LO-HAY
A-VO-TAY-NU  SHE-NEE-YE   L-ROSH   V-LO   L-ZA-NAV.

May it be Your will, Yah, our Power, and the Power of our ancestors, that we be as a head and not as a tail.


Concluding the Seder

Leader: Let us conclude the Rosh Hashanah Seder: A Night of Renewal.

All: We conclude this Rosh Hashanah Seder, but we continue the journey that began with the sounding of the Great Shofar! The foods we have eaten helped us to remember the work that we must undertake and complete in order to progress on the spiritual path. Remembrance leads to Repentance, Repentance leads to Return, Return leads to Renewal, Renewal leads to Life, and Life leads to Light!  Happy New Year!  SHA-NA  TO-VA!




Blessings 
(As needed.)

Washing the Hands


All: May what prevents us from being our true selves—thereby preventing us from being in right relation to ourselves, to others, and the to the Divine—be washed away.

BA-RUCH    A-TA   YAH   E-LO-HAY-NU    RU-ACH    HA-O-LAM,   A-SHER  CEE-D-SHANU B-MEETZ-VO-TAV,   V-TZEE-VA-NU   AL  N-TEE-LAT   YA-DA-YEEM.

Blessed are You, Yah, our Power, Breath of All, Who sanctifies us with commandments and commands us regarding the washing of the hands.



The Fruit of the Tree

All: BA-RUCH   A-TA   A-DO-NY   E-LO-HAY-NU   ME-LECH  HA-O-LAM  
BO-RAY   P-REE  HA-AYTZ.

Blessed are You, Yah, our Power, Source of All, Who creates the fruit of the tree.



The Fruit of the Ground

All: BA-RUCH   A-TA   YAH,  E-LO-HAY-NU   RU-ACH  HA-O-LAM 
BO-RAY  P-REE  HA-A-DA-MA.

Blessed are You, Yah, our Power, Source of All, Who creates the fruit of the ground.




Giving Thanks / Saying Grace


All: PO-TAY-ACH   ET   YA-DE-CHA,  U-MAS-BEE-A   L-CHOL  CHY  RA-TZON.

BA-RUCH   ATA   YAH,  HA-ZAN   ET  HA-COL.

“You open Your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16 ‘RSV’). Blessed are You, Yah, Who nourishes all.

We are thankful, above all, for the opportunity to return to ourselves, to repair that which is broken, so that we can return to You and glisten like snow.


Pronunciation Key

A  as in A piece of fruit
AY  as in The DAY after tomorrow
E  as in LET me do it
EE  as in MEET me there at noon
Y  as in BY the seaside
O  as in OH no not again
U  as in Follow the RULE
TZ  as in The BERLITZ foreign language series
CH  as in The composer BACH
CH  makes a slight gargle-like sound.



Notes

1 Howard Schwartz, Tree of Souls (Oxford University Press, 2004), 292. Schwartz created this text based on Sefer Netivot ha-Shalom, quoting a teaching attributed to the Ari; Likutei Moharan 1:2.

2 Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 39b.

3 Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 8:9.

4 Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 38b; VaYikrah Rabah beginning Parshah 29 ‘on Emor.’

5 Howard Schwartz, Tree of Souls (Oxford University Press, 2004), 130. Schwartz created this composite text based on Bava Batra 58a and Sanhedrin 38b; Leviticus Rabbah 20:2; Genesis Rabbah 8:9-10, 11:2, 12:6, 20:11. Deuteronomy Rabbah 11:3; Numbers Rabbah 13:12; Song of Songs Rabbah 30:3; Midrash ha-Gadol 126-130; Midrash Mishlei 31; Pesikta de-Rav Kahana 4:4, 12:1, 26:3: Pesikta Rabbati 14:10; Zohar 1:142b; Kedushat Shabbat 5, p. 13b.

6 Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 16b.

7 Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 16b.

8 Babylonian Talmud, Horayoth 12a. Fenugreek—fenyəˌgrēk—is “a white-flowered herbaceous plant of the pea family, with aromatic seeds that are used for flavoring, especially ground and used in curry powder.” Jews of the Middle East are known as Mizrachim [MEEZ-RA-CHEEM] and Jews of Portugal and Spain as Sephardim [S-FA-RA-DEEM].)

9 “Mental Illness Facts and Numbers,” NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness. nami.org. (accessed September 20, 2014).

10 “Dali Lama,” Brainy Quote. 
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/loneliness.html. (accessed September 20, 2014).

11 Sam Costello, “How Many Apps Are in the iPhone App Store?,” about technology.
http://ipod.about.com/od/iphonesoftwareterms/qt/apps-in-app-store.htm. (accessed September 20, 2014).

12 Atlas Obscura. 
http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-site-of-the-world-s-first-residential-telephone-line. (accessed September 20, 2014).


13 “Danielle Steele,” Brainy Quote.  
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/human_voice.html.(accessed September 20, 2014).

14 Jones, Maggie, “How Little Sleep Can You Get Away With?” New York Times, April 15, 2011, Magazine. 

15 Eric J. Thompson, “The Meaning of Maize for the Maya,” in The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics eds. Gilbert M. Joseph and Timothy J. Henderson (Duke University Press, 2009), 86. 

16 I encountered people making the Vow to the Earth: Commitment Ceremony for the People’s Climate March at the very end of the People’s Climate March (21 September 2014), in front of the art installation Birth Canal to the Future created by Sarah Levine, also known as Salix Roots. Devin Kyle Irby, also known as Eco Lake, informed me that the text of the vow was co-authored by a working group that gathered in Sporatorium and May Day spaces.