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Chana and Rosh Hashana

Thursday, 17 September, 2020 - 10:16 am

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Did you know that my name appears during the service of Rosh Hashana?

As in every Shabbat and Holiday, after reading the Parashah from the Five Books of Moses, we read the Haftarah, an excerpt from the Prophets that is connected to the content of the Parashah. On Rosh Hashana, we read about Hanna.

Chana was married for many years, but she did not have children. On Rosh Hashana, she went with her husband to the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and started to pray silently, begging G-d to give her children. The High Priest Eli, who saw her praying, thought she was drunk and reprimanded her. Chana answered that she was not drunk, but that she was praying with all her heart. Eli recognized it and blessed her. The child who was born the next year became the prophet Shmuel (Samuel), an important personality in Jewish history.

But things are not that simple. We need to remember that Eli was not a regular person. He was a High Priest and his blessings were powerful. How could he confuse Hanna’s wholehearted prayer with the behavior of a drunk person?

Rosh Hashana is the day where we crown again G-d as our King. It is a great and significant day. Yet, the Rosh Hashana prayers include requests for our personal needs: health, material affairs etc. How is it possible to focus on such selfish concerns on such an important and spiritual day?  

This was Eli’s reprimand to Chana. A drunk person thinks that the whole world revolves around him… He thinks that everything about him and he does not care about others. When Eli scolded Chana about her drunkenness, he meant that she was being selfish. A woman of such spiritual stature (Chana was a prophetess) should focus on spiritual matters on this important day, not on her personal needs…

Chana explained to him that she was not drunk. Her request for children was not only a personal wish, but that she wanted to raise these children as Jews who will serve G-d.  

This is the message that appears again and again in this blog. Judaism does not require us to abandon the material world and deal only with spiritual matters. We need to use all what is found in the world, but with the correct intentions and with the purpose of serving G-d.

Let us think about it this Rosh Hashana. Let us dedicate time for prayer, introspection, and a wholehearted conversation with G-d, in our own words. We will crown Him as our King and decide to please Him with our actions this coming year. We will ask Him for all that we need and want in order to be able to serve Him with ease and joy.

Shana Tova Umetuka and Shabbat Shalom,

Hanna

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