Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What are you Reading this High Holiday?

This time of year I see a lot of buzz about new reading material for the Yamim Noraim, the High Holy Days (also known as the Playoffs of Prayer). Koren Publishers have come out with a new Mahzor authored by Chief Rabbi Dr. Lord Jonathan Sacks.

This is a very interesting trend, in my humble opinion. Consider that Rav Soloveitchik had a machzor published in his name by the OU in 2006 with his insights (for those who don't know Rav Solveitchik zt"l died in 1993).

What is driving this urge for so many people to have supplementary reading material for the extended service? The Center for the Jewish Future will surely be publishing its "Rosh Hashana-to-Go" series as will a message from chancellor of JTS and updated information from the Union for Reform Judaism.

Are people SO bored during the davening on the Yamim Noraim that there is a need to distribute new and current inspirational material? Is it wrong to bring The New Yorker to shul for an interesting read? I think that a lot of the specialized publications reflect that most people do not sincerely connect with the tefilla experience while it is actually happening. In many synagogues the most popular parts of the service are either the sofar blasts, the classic tunes, and the rabbi's sermon. What would it take to get people to learn to focus on the tefilla with some passion?

One final comment to slightly contradict my message today: One of the best preparatory books that I have read is Preparing Your Heart for the High Holy Days (1996) by Olitzky, Sabath, and Wolpe. It is a "guided jorunal' that gives some practical and thoughtful tips to getting spiritually ready to stand and daven before our creator. The key positive aspect of this book is that it is meant to be read before the actual holiday - and is not intended to be a two day reading to lift you up.

What are you reading this Elul season?

No comments:

Post a Comment